Cordillera Huayhuash

One of the Great Alpine Hikes of the World

Trip Level

This trip is rated a Level 6 (Very Strenuous) according to our trip grading system. It is expected that each participant be in excellent health and physical condition.

Average Hiking Day
• 5-7 hours
• 2,000-2,500 feet gain/loss
• Altitudes range from 10,000 to 15,000 feet, but there are several passes over 15,000 feet to cross and one pass of 16,600 feet

Challenge Days
• Day 10: approximately 5.5 hours at elevations up to 16,600 feet
• Day 13: approximately 7 hours, 2,400 feet gain/loss

How Tough is This Trip?
You need to be able to hike on uneven surfaces on mountain trails at high elevations. You must feel comfortable and confident on your feet for up to 8 hours a day, with recent experience hiking at least 8 miles in a day (preferably at high altitude).

Terrain

Trail conditions can be primitive, and there is much up-and-down hiking (often 2,000- to 3,000-foot gain or loss in elevation per day). An average day’s walk is seven or eight hours. With rest stops and photo stops, few people walk faster than one mile an hour in a mountainous region. Some hiking days are shorter than others, and some days are more difficult than others due to altitude gain and loss.

Weather

Being so close to the equator, Peru has only two seasons: a dry season from April to October, and a wet season from December to March. Altitude is the main factor controlling the climate. In the mountains, you’ll encounter sunny days with daytime temperatures ranging between 65°F and 70°F, dropping to the 40s and lower at night. The sun is very strong at high altitude and it can often be warm enough to hike in shorts and a t-shirt. However, it can also get extremely cold; if you’re familiar with mountain weather, you know how suddenly it can get cold even in the daytime if the sun slips behind a cloud. Nighttime is always cold and temperatures can drop to below freezing. Be prepared with warm layers for cold nights. Rain should not be a problem on our trek, but always keep in mind that mountain weather is unpredictable and sudden storms can occur, especially on high mountain passes. The best preparation for the changeable climate of the high Andes is to dress in layers. Lima lies in a coastal desert where rainfall is rare and temperatures are usually warm (70s and 80s).

Accommodations

Accommodations on the trail are in sturdy mountain-style tents. Camp amenities include a dining tent with a table and chairs (with backs), meals prepared by our trained staff, and a toilet tent. Our camp crew takes care of all camp chores, including bringing a basin of warm washing water, and tea or coffee to your tent each morning. Most members bring their own sleeping bag, but we can arrange for you to rent one if you prefer.

Cuisine

On trekking days, breakfast is normally a light meal of pancakes, oatmeal, eggs, or something similar, along with tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. Lunch is served picnic-style in a scenic spot along the trail, perhaps chicken salad, potato salad, guacamole salad, or macaroni salad, along with fruit, cheese, bread, and chocolate bars for extra energy. At camp, we have late afternoon tea (or coffee or cocoa) and snacks such as popcorn, cookies, or crackers, which hit the spot after a long day on the trail. Dinner, served to us in a dining tent with a table and chairs, is delicious hot soup followed by a substantial main course and a dessert. Please let us know of any dietary needs and we will accommodate as best as possible.

A TYPICAL TREKKING DAY

On a typical trekking day, wake-up is around 7:00 am, when a cup of hot tea or coffee and a basin of warm washing water are brought to your tent by one of the camp crew. After packing up our duffels and having breakfast, we set off on the trail while the crew strikes camp and the porters shoulder their loads. The crew passes us by midmorning to get ahead and prepare our lunch. We typically walk for three or four hours in the morning, then stop for a leisurely lunch of an hour or more at a scenic spot on the trail. After lunch, we walk for another three hours or so until we reach our next night’s camp. The porters and crew pass us in mid-afternoon and usually have camp set up by the time we arrive. At camp, we have late afternoon tea (or coffee or cocoa) and snacks. Before dinner in the dining tent, there’s free time to read or relax. Temperatures drop quickly as the sun drops behind the peaks, and it can get very cold at night, so have a few extra layers of clothing ready. It gets dark fairly early (around 6:30 pm). After dinner, we can chat away the evening in the dining tent or read by flashlight until bedtime.

For the most part, you can hike at your own speed. There is always a guide in the lead, usually the Trip Leader or the camp manager, who supervises the crew, and a “sweeper” who trails behind the slowest hiker to ensure that no one becomes lost on the trail. Most groups tend to spread out over the trail, taking photos, stopping to rest, and enjoying the scenery. We ask you not to hike ahead of the leader because trails are often not well-marked. If you feel breathless during a long ascent or wobbly during a long descent, by all means, stop until you feel restored.

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.