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Steve, Katherine, and Norah | profile | all galleries >> Peru 2016: The Huayhuash Circuit >> Huaraz and Acclimatization Hikes tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Huaraz and Acclimatization Hikes

Given that we live at sea level, we needed time to acclimate before setting out on our Huayhuash trek. Chris recommended three days in Huaraz and Iím glad we allowed ourselves this time to acclimate; it certainly helped make our trip more enjoyable. Donít get me wrong - we certainly felt the altitude throughout the duration of our trip (I felt like the Big Bad Wolf with all the huffing and puffing I did), but it was always manageable and we were able to do our intended itinerary without problems*. We did meet people during our trek that did not fare as well and had to change their plans, so Iím glad we took the time to acclimate.

We had a late night arrival in Lima and despite Steveís frugal wish to sleep in the airport overnight, we forked over the money to stay at the hotel airport (very convenient and the accommodations were fine, but you definitely pay for it). We were up early the next morning to fly to Huaraz. We had opted for the flight to save time (a one hour flight versus an eight hour bus ride), which thankfully went smoothly. This is not as inconsequential as you might think. I could write a long essay about LC Peru.** Anyway Ö so we made it to Huaraz - yay! A driver met us at the airport and took us to Hotel Suiza Peruana where we stayed for three nights. The staff was very friendly, the room comfortable, and the location was convenient (short walk to the city center with plenty of banks, restaurants, stores, etc). Chris touched base with us when we arrived and we made plans to meet him for a late lunch at Cafe Andino, which gave us time to get settled and walk around Huaraz for a little bit.

Huaraz is at 3050 m/10,010 ft and we definitely felt the elevation the first day walking around, mainly in the form of light headaches (we were also pretty tired, partly due to our long travel day and little sleep the previous night). We were sure to drink plenty of water, took some Advil, and went to bed early. We woke up the next morning feeling refreshed for our first day hike to Wilcacocha. After breakfast at the hotel we met our driver Hacinto and companion Alan and we were off for the trailhead at Chiwimampa 10 km south of Huaraz.

Wilcacocha is located in the Cordillera Negra and is a common first hike when staying in Huaraz. Itís a shorter hike, 6.4 km/4 mi round trip with ~ 500 m/1640 feet elevation gain, and on average it takes people two hours to reach the lake. The hike winds through small farms on the mountainside and it was interesting to see the various crops and animals, farming methods, and locals in traditional Peruvian clothing. The lake is at 3725 m/12,200 ft and has great views of the Cordillera Blanca. Since it was a modest gain in elevation we could certainly feel the altitude, but it was manageable. We made good time on the hike and had the afternoon to eat at the Josť Olaya food festival and peruse the artisan market.

We were feeling pretty good with one acclimatization hike under our belts and were ready for our second day hike on our third day in Huaraz. Laguna 69 is the most popular day hike in the area, but it's a much longer drive, so we opted for the closer-but-also-pretty Laguna Churup. We again met Alan and Hacinto at our hotel and drove to the Pitec trailhead. The trailhead is about 30km east of Huaraz and took around 1 hr 15 minutes to get there. We drove through some small farming communities and on a well graded dirt road (although often at the edge of some big drop offs). Laguna Churup is located in Huascaran National Park and we paid a small fee at the trailhead. We had a 600 m/1970 ft climb to Laguna Churup and I'm not sure how far it was. One site I found said it was 7 km/4.5 mi round trip and websites list the round trip hiking time between 4-6 hours. All I know is that the trail felt steeper than the day before and we were at a higher elevation (Laguna Churup is at 4450 m/14,600 ft), so we were def
We've arrived!
We've arrived!
Steve, Norah, and Huascaran at the airport
Steve, Norah, and Huascaran at the airport
Hotel Suiza view
Hotel Suiza view
Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas
Norah at Plaza de Armas
Norah at Plaza de Armas
Comfortable pile of dirt
Comfortable pile of dirt
Street dog
Street dog
One of many taxis
One of many taxis
A literal street dog
A literal street dog
Make way for sheep
Make way for sheep
Josť Olaya food festival
Josť Olaya food festival
Josť Olaya food festival
Josť Olaya food festival
This is what $4 gets you
This is what $4 gets you
When in Rome .... (cuy or guinea pig)
When in Rome .... (cuy or guinea pig)
Norah poses with a large agave
Norah poses with a large agave
Wilcacocha sheep
Wilcacocha sheep
Wheat, a common crop on the mountainsides
Wheat, a common crop on the mountainsides
Wilcacocha birds
Wilcacocha birds
Wilcacocha
Wilcacocha
Typical Andean transport
Typical Andean transport
Wilcacocha view
Wilcacocha view
Hikers admire the Cordillera Blanca
Hikers admire the Cordillera Blanca
Norah and a new friend
Norah and a new friend
Descending Wilcacocha
Descending Wilcacocha
Norah tells Buddy he needs to stay home
Norah tells Buddy he needs to stay home
On the trail from Wilcacocha
On the trail from Wilcacocha
Laguna Churup trailhead
Laguna Churup trailhead
On our way
On our way
Slowly making our way up
Slowly making our way up
Steve and Norah on the trail
Steve and Norah on the trail
Sucking breath
Sucking breath
A look at the cliffs ahead
A look at the cliffs ahead
Norah's opinion on the hike and altitude
Norah's opinion on the hike and altitude
A break to admire the view and catch our breath
A break to admire the view and catch our breath
Almost there
Almost there
Last short scramble
Last short scramble
Laguna Churup (4450 m/14600 feet)
Laguna Churup (4450 m/14600 feet)
Laguna Churup
Laguna Churup
Laguna Churup
Laguna Churup
Laguna Churup
Laguna Churup
Family picture at Laguna Churup
Family picture at Laguna Churup
Steve and Alan at Laguna Churup
Steve and Alan at Laguna Churup
Norah works her camera
Norah works her camera
Laguna Churup view from Steve's scramble
Laguna Churup view from Steve's scramble
Mountains in the distance
Mountains in the distance
Good spot for a break
Good spot for a break
Look back at the trail
Look back at the trail
Much easier coming down
Much easier coming down
Norah finds a friend at the trailhead
Norah finds a friend at the trailhead
Our driver Hacinto
Our driver Hacinto