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Laguna Churup: A Perfect Day Hike

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The Cordillera Blanca trekking and hiking trails in Peru are a playground for all trekking lovers. Some of Peru’s iconic treks and challenging technical climbs can be found in the Cordillera Blanca region. However, Cordillera Blanca has a number of attractive day hikes as well, of which the Laguna Churup hike is one of the most popular.

Laguna Churup - Highlights and Lowlights

Highlights

  • Easy to organise from Huaraz
  • Great views of Huaraz town from the trail
  • Laguna Churup itself with views of Mt Churup in the distance
  • Good acclimatisation hike
  • Possible to do independently or with a guide. We advise to bring a guide, if you’re not an experienced hiker.

Lowlights

  • If hiking independently, it is harder to find transport back to Huaraz from Pitec
  • The final rock wall section is difficult (this may be a “pro point” for some people).
Laguna Churup day hike map
Overview map of the Laguna Churup Day Hike

Laguna Churup - Hike Facts

Trek Difficulty: Medium to difficult. Most of the hike is a moderately strenuous ascent with a total gain of over 500 metres.
Trek Duration: 1 day. After the 40-minute transfer to Pitec, it takes about 5-6 hours to complete the hike.
Remoteness:  There are no significant settlements along the hiking trail but Pitec is easy to reach from Huaraz.
Starting and Maximum Altitudes: 3,850 m (at Pitec) and 4,450 m (at Laguna Churup)
Best Season: May – September. This corresponds with the dry season and is also the coldest time of year. It is possible to attempt this hike at any time of the year but outside of the dry season, rain is more likely and slippery paths and wet conditions make the hike less enjoyable. January to March are the wettest months.
Start and End locations: Huaraz and Pitec
Permits Required:

The hike is located in the Huascarán National Park and participants are required to obtain a permit. Technically, you are not allowed to enter the park without booking through an official local tour agency and the tour agency should take care of the permit for you. You will stop at the checkpoint on the way into the park to register. It is still possible to attempt the trail with no guide. Permits booked can be acquired at the Park Office in Huaraz.

Physical Fitness:

A fairly good level of fitness is required – the hike involves a moderately strenuous walk of around three hours at high altitude with a particularly tough final section to reach the lake. Following this, it is a further three hours to descend back to the starting point.

Laguna Churup - Hiking Itinerary

The hike starts from Huaraz. From Huaraz, you will be transported to Pitec (a small collection of buildings rather than a real village), which takes around 40 minutes. If you are hiking independently, it is easy to arrive in Pitec by public transport. From Pitec, it takes around 3 hours along an established hiking trail to reach the lake. The final and most daunting section involves ascending a 9 metre rock wall using ropes that have been fixed there for the purpose. Having overcome this last hurdle, Laguna Churup, one of the most beautiful lakes in the Cordillera Blanca, is finally revealed.

After stopping for lunch and photos, hikers return to Pitec along the same trail. From there, they must take transport back to Huaraz. 

Laguna Churup lies in the Huascaran National Park
Laguna Churup day hike gives you an opportunity to come face to face with Huascaran (shown above), the highest mountain in Peru
Punta Union Pass
Cordillera Blanca mountain range as seen from Punta Union Pass in Santa Cruz trek

Alternative Day Hikes and Treks

There is only one way to reach Laguna Churup and there are no alternative routes available. One of the most popular alternatives is the one-day hike up to Laguna 69. Laguna 69 is another contender for the most beautiful lake in the Cordillera Blanca range. This is a hike of similar duration and difficulty, also with a particularly stunning lake as its objective. Many people do both day-hikes as preparation for longer treks. For those who don’t want to undertake such a strenuous hike, day trips are available from Huaraz to see the twin Llanganuco lakes, which can include walking around their shores if desired.

For those with more time and looking for something a little more adventurous than a simple one-day hike, the most popular multi-day trek in the Cordillera Blanca range is the Santa Cruz trek. This trek is of moderate difficulty and also easy to organise from Huaraz. The highest point on this trek is 4,750m at the Punta Unión Pass, only a little higher than Laguna Churup. Other highlights of the trek include views of Huascarán, the highest mountain in the country.

Laguna 69 day hiking trail lies in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range
Laguna 69 hiking trail offers exquisite views of snowcapped mountains in the Cordillera Blanca

Laguna Churup day-hike is one of the most popular and rewarding day hikes available out of Huaraz, but also in Peru. The lake at the end makes for a worthy objective and the final section adds a little extra adventure and excitement, making hikers ‘earn’ the sublime views and peaceful setting offered at the end. This is an ideal hike for those short on time; those preparing for a longer and demanding trek, and for those who find themselves in Huaraz with only a day to spare. Laguna Churup is a worthy day hike in Peru that shouldn’t be missed.

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