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Top 5 Cordillera Blanca Trekking and Hiking Trails

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The Cordillera Blanca is Peru’s premier hiking, trekking and climbing destination with majestic remote mountains and turquoise transparent lakes. There are many options for trekking the Cordillera Blanca trails. These trails are of varying lengths and suitable for trekkers of all levels – from moderate one-day hikes to gruelling week-long treks.

In no particular order, here are five of the best Cordillera Blanca treks:

Map of the best cordillera blanca trekking trails
At a glance: Locations of the five best Cordillera Blanca treks

#1. Santa Cruz Trek

Punta Union Pass
Cordillera Blanca mountain range as seen from Punta Union Pass

The Santa Cruz trek is the most popular of all the Cordillera Blanca trekking trails and one of the best treks in Peru. The trails are well marked, and not very challenging. This means that most people who wish to attempt the trek are able to complete it. The Santa Cruz trek offers stunning vistas and beautiful mountain scenery and is an ideal choice for trekkers who don’t want to tackle a difficult trail, but still have an amazing trekking experience!

Highlights

  • See some of the highest mountains in Peru, including Huascarán (6,768 m) 
  • Extremely beautiful scenery
  • Safe and well-marked trails due to its popularity
  • Easy access from Huaraz

Lowlight

  • The trail attracts a large number of trekkers
Trek Facts
Trek difficulty: Moderate
Trek duration: 4 days
Remoteness: Remote
Maximum Altitude: 4,750 m when crossing the Punta Union Pass
Accommodation Type: Camping
Best Season: May - September
Start / End Locations: Huaraz / Cashapampa – Vaquería / Huaraz
Permits Required: Yes, to enter the Huascarán National Park
Fitness Level Required: Moderate

#2 Laguna 69 Day Hike

Laguna 69 is the most beautiful lake in the Huascaran National Park
The calming turquoise waters of Laguna 69 is the final destination of the day hike

The Laguna 69 day hike is popularly undertaken as an acclimatisation trek or by hikers who don’t have sufficient time to attempt a longer trek. The final section of the day hike is quite hard to conquer but since it is only a one-day hike, most hikers can manage to do it. The sublime Laguna 69 lake (4,600 m) at the end of the day hike is ample reward for the hard work and effort.

Highlights

  • Laguna 69. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the Huascarán National Park.
  • Good acclimatisation hike in preparation for longer, higher-altitude treks
  • Popular and easy to complete in one day

Lowlights

  • Tough final ascent to the lake (some may argue this is a highlight)
  • The trail attracts a large number of hikers
Trek Facts
Trek Difficulty: Moderate – difficult
Trek Duration: 1 day
Remoteness: Not remote. Uninhabited mountain trails but the trailhead is only a three-hour drive from Huaraz
Maximum Altitude: 4,600 m at Laguna 69
Best Season: May - October
Start / End Locations: Huaraz / Cebollapampa – Cebollapampa / Huaraz
Permits Required: Yes, to enter the Huascarán National Park
Fitness Level Required: Moderate

#3 Alpamayo Base Camp Trek

Mount Alpamayo
Alpamayo mountain is hailed as one of the most beautiful mountains in the world

The Alpamayo Base Camp trek is a challenging trek and not without a certain level of danger, as the trail is remote and as you need to take altitude into account. For trekkers seeking a more remote and adventurous trek, the Alpamayo Base Camp trek is a perfect choice to test their levels of fitness and endurance. The undoubted highlight is the chance to see the near perfect conical peak of Alpamayo, a mountain that has been described as ‘the most beautiful mountain in the world’.

Highlights

  • Chance to see two highest mountains in Peru – Alpamayo (5,947 m) and Huascarán (6,768 m)
  • Secluded trekking trail with few other trekkers
  • Challenging trek and an opportunity to test yourself
  • Remote and rarely visited area

Lowlights

  • Involves a certain level of danger due to its remoteness and altitude.
  • No facilities along the route
Trek Facts
Trek Difficulty: Hard
Trek Duration: 6-7 days
Remoteness: Very remote
Maximum Altitude: 4,850 m while crossing Paso Osoruri Pass (also known as Cullicocha)
Accommodation Type: Camping but no official campsites
Best Season: May - September
Start / End Locations: Huaraz / Vasqeria – Hualcayan / Huaraz
Permits Required: Yes, to enter the Huascarán National Park
Fitness Level Required: Good. Acclimatisation is essential. Professional trekking guide is recommended.

#4 Laguna Churup Day Hike

The Laguna Churup day hike is another popular hike that works well as an acclimatisation hike before attempting other difficult Cordillera Blanca trekking trails. It is a fairly challenging but rewarding hike in its own right. With its clear, deep blue water and peaceful surroundings, Laguna Churup (4,450 m) makes for a worthy objective at the end of this hike. It is a pleasant spot to relax before returning.

Highlights

  • Visiting Laguna Churup with views of Churup Mountain in the distance
  • Good acclimatisation hike
  • Can be done independently due to well marked trails
  • Fantastic views of Huaraz as you hike upwards

Lowlights

  • Hard to find transport back to Huaraz when hiking it independently
  • Some steep uphill and downhill sections (may be a highlight for some)
Trek Facts
Trek Difficulty: Moderate – difficult
Trek Duration: 1 day
Remoteness: Not remote
Maximum altitude: 4,450 m at Laguna Churup
Accommodation type: None
Best Season: May - September
Start / End Locations: Huaraz / Pitec –  Pitec / Huaraz
Permits required: Yes, to enter the Huascarán National Park
Fitness Level Required: Moderate

#5 Quilcayhuanca – Cojup Trek

Huascaran National Park
Trekkers walking in the trails of Huascaran National Park

The Quilcayhuanca – Cojup trek is great as a short but tough option with beautiful, rugged mountain scenery. If the number of trekkers in the Santa Cruz trek bothers you then this trek is a great alternative. It is easy to travel from Huaraz where the trailhead is only a short car journey away. Please beware that it is a challenging trek suitable for trekkers in good physical shape. However, the chance of trekking a less commonly visited Cordillera Blanca trail and the opportunity to see several mountains over 6,000 m over a period of 3 days can be unforgettable.

Highlights

  • Good chance of seeing condors
  • Exquisite sceneries covering mountains and lakes
  • Short duration and good for those with time constraints
  • Remote trail with few other trekkers
  • Breath-taking views from the Huapi Pass (5,100 m)

Lowlights

  • No campsites or facilities on the trail
Trek Facts
Trek Difficulty: Hard
Trek Duration: 3 days
Remoteness: Remote
Maximum Altitude: 5,100 m at the Huapi Pass
Accommodation Type: Camping but no official campsites
Best Season: April - September
Start / End Locations: Huaraz / Pitec – Cojup / Huaraz
Permits Required: Yes, to enter the Huascarán National Park
Fitness Level Required: Excellent

The Cordillera Blanca mountain range is a natural hiking and trekking playground – any trekking and hiking lover will inevitably love this place. The Cordillera Blanca trekking trails are a showcase of Peru’s natural beauty and offer some of the best treks in Peru that should not be missed. It is also worth saying, however, that many of the above trails are very remote and therefore it is recommended to bring a professional guide with you.

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