Experience the extraordinary beauty of Peru's Cordillera Blanca on this high-altitude trek for experienced hikers. The stunning Cordillera Blanca is the highest tropical mountain range in the world, a glacial wilderness of translucent turquoise lakes, hidden waterfalls, and dazzling pinnacles. Hike through Huascarán National Park, with more than 40 peaks over 19,000 feet high linked by isolated valleys. Drink in stunning vistas of the sharply ridged peaks, including the remarkable "perfect" pyramid of Alpamayo. Challenging? Yes, but a fantastic, bucket-list triumph for those who choose to undertake it.
Feast your eyes on breathtaking mountain scenery that rivals the Himalaya in scale
Cross seven mountain passes and camp at altitudes of 12,000 to 14,800 feet
Take in majestic mountain views at Huascarán National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Arrive at Lima airport early (we recommend arriving in Lima the day before) and meet an MT Sobek representative who will assist you with your connecting flight to the Costa del Sol airport in Huaraz around 6am. Transfer to your hotel and meet up with your group for a welcome dinner.
Take in the breathtaking scenery of the Cordillera Blanca as you travel into the mountains by bus. Begin your first acclimatization hike with a walk to Laguna Huillcacocha, aka Willcacocha (12,221') and continuing on to Lake Ararcocha (12,116'). Climb to 12,565' for breakthaking views of the Cordillera Blanca, the Santa River basin, and the city of Huaraz. Descend towards the villages of Purucuta and Quetscapu, then meet your bus for the drive back to Huaraz. Lunch en route and experience what is probably one of the best panorama views of the Cordillera Blanca range.
Depart by bus, stopping in the charming town of Carhuaz for a visit to the local market. Visit Campo Santo, site of the single worst natural disaster in the Andes. Today, it's a peaceful cemetery, with spectacular views of Huascarán, flower-filled gardens, and monuments honoring the dead. Enter Huascarán National Park, stop for a box lunch, then cross a pass of about 15,580' with a stunning panorama of the northern Cordillera Blanca. From the pass, hike downhill to camp at Vaqueria (12,136') - a short and easy warm-up for the next nine days.
Begin your trek in earnest with an all-day hike down Quebrada Vaqueria (10,824'), passing near Colcabamba, then up the Tuctu Valley, passing small settlements and farmland. Camp at Tuctu Pampa (13,500'), with views of Taulliraju and Rinrijirca looming at the head of the valley and the massive wall of Chacraraju's east peak - all over 19,000 feet.
Continue up the Huaripampa Valley on pre-Inca trails, with views of Contrahierbas behind us. Cross Pucaraju Pass (15,252'). If it's clear, take in beautiful views of Piramide, Paron, Chacraraju, and Huascarán. Continue on to Laguna Huecrococha, a lake situated at about 13,000', and camp nearby.
Hike up to the village of Tingopampa, crossing the Tupatupa, a grassy pass at 14,380', and camp at Jancapampa (11,600'), one of the most beautiful valleys on the trek, situated below the Pucajirca massif. In the afternoon and evening, we'll likely enjoy the company of curious children of Tingopampa in camp who might come to visit before getting a good night's sleep in our lowest-altitude camp.
From Jancapampa, climb with ever-changing views of the immense glaciers of the east face of Pucajirca (19,844'). Continue climbing steeply through woods, across grassy meadows, and over glacially polished cliffs while enjoying an array of spectacular wildflowers. Make a steep ascent to the narrow Yanajanca pass (15,088'), then head downhill toward the small settlement of Huilca. Camp just below the pass at 14,000' with spectacular views of Pucajirca.
Continue up Quebrada Tayapampa with beautiful views of the northeast face of Alpamayo (19,455') and the three peaks of Pucajirca in the distance. Ascend over a grassy pass, crossing a ridge, and camp at Moyobamba at 14,700'.
Hike over Caracara Pass (15,800'), enjoying fantastic views of Alpamayo's cirque, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the Cordillera Blanca stretching southwards. After lunch, hike up to the moraine - about two hours roundtrip - and enjoy stunning views of Alpamayo's famed classic pyramid shape and the turquoise green lake below the peak. Camp at Jancarurish Valley at 14,000' and take in dazzling views of Alpamayo as the sun sets and rises.
Begin a long ascent with about 50 vueltas (switchbacks) to arrive at Jatun Viento Pass (15,252'). Descend to camp at 14,800', our highest campsite, and a well-deserved rest.
Hike 1.5 hours to our last and highest pass, Toro Pishtanan (15,908'). Descend to Cuillicocha Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in this area of the Andes, with its blue-green waters and view of the three peaks of the Santa Cruz Mountains in the background. Enjoy views of the Cordillera Negra, the snowless mountain range running parallel with the Cordillera Blanca to the west. Continue to Huischca (13,100') and camp near a modern aqueduct that has replaced an old Inca one.
Continue downhill to the ruins of Hualacayan and meet your van for the ride back to Huaraz. As you leave the mountains behind, see farmers working small plots of land overlooking the Huaylas Valley and the Cordillera Negra. After checking into the hotel in Huaraz, meet your group for a final farewell dinner in Huaraz.
Fly to Lima to catch your homebound flight. Most U.S.-bound flights depart in the evening, so a day room is reserved at Wyndham Costa del Sol to rest before meeting your international flights.
MT Sobek has been designing pioneering trekking adventures in the Andes since 1969. We scouted the Cordillera Blanca in 1988.
This Ultimate Challenge adventure has been carefully designed to test your mettle in one of South America's most breathtaking mountain ranges.
We work with expert local guiding teams who have over 40 years' experience leading groups through the Cordillera Blanca.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Hardcore, high-elevation hiking that rewards you with seldom-seen views of staggering mountain peaks.
Comfortable camps with three-person tents and sleeping pads, bookended by stays in the comfortable Andino Club Hotel.
The Cordillera Blanca Mountains are cold in the mornings and evenings, often below 30F. Around noon temperatures reach 70F at 13,123 feet.
This trek is supported! We have pack animals and porters to transport our gear so all you'll need to hike with is a daypack.
Trekking season is April through October, with the best months to go being May through September. You can expect daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s and nightime temperatures in the 30s and 40s.
We will be tent camping in roomy but basic 3-person tents, and will also have a dining tent and a toilet tent set up at each site.
We maximize altitude conditioning in the early part of the trek. However, there are no guarantees that youy will acclimatize. If you show signs of potential acute mountain sickness, you will descend and remain at comfortable altitudes. Our trip leaders always cary Oxygen for emergy use.
Of course! We can run this trip with as little as 2 people. Give us a call to start planning your private adventure today.
Yes, you can rent a sleeping bag. Ask your Adventure Coordinator for details.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
"A wonderful experience with excellent assistance by our guide, cook and porters."
MT Sobek Guest, Trekking the Cordillera Blanca
"Thrilling route, great guides, awesome cooks, supportive donkey drivers with their faithful donkeys, and of course, the beautiful Cordillera Blanca Mountains. It's a trip I will never forget!"
MT Sobek Guest, Trekking the Cordillera