I arrived in Huaraz early one morning after travelling on an overnight bus which had climbed 3,000m while I slept. Such a drastic change from balmy, coastal Lima to mountainous (and rather wet) Huaraz was a bit of a shock to the system; I soon realised I would have to ditch my flip flops and swap them for something a little sturdier.
The city of Huaraz itself suffered greatly during the 20th century; firstly, from a burst reservoir dam which flooded the town in 1941 and later, from the earthquake of 1970 which wiped out much of the city’s colonial architecture as well as a large proportion of its population. As a result, you’ll find that it’s perhaps not the prettiest town you’ll visit in the Andes, but the surrounding natural beauty more than makes up for this.
Huaraz is the perfect base for adventure activities in the mountains of the Cordillera Blanca. With the Huascarán National Park on its doorstep there are many different trekking routes that allow you to explore the region’s extraordinary landscape.
As a relatively inexperienced trekker I decided to stick to day trips but there are plenty of options for the more adventurous, such as the Santa Cruz Trek or, for those in search of a challenge, the 10-day Cordillera Huayhuash Trek. I opted for a 1-day trek to the Llanganuco Lakes which would finish up at Lake 69, a stunning turquoise lagoon surrounded by a mighty snow-capped mountain which comes as a wonderful surprise when it reveals itself from behind the clouds. The heady atmosphere at the lake is heightened not only by the altitude but by the feeling of accomplishment you get from having reached your goal.
This trek is particularly popular because of the incredible mineral-infused turquoise lakes (a colour which hardly seems natural), as well as the variety of scenery that you pass through along the way. From bucolic fields and streams to gravelly, steep mountain inclines to marshy grassland, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled into Tolkien’s world. It’s a tiring day but well worth the effort and a great option for those with limited time in the area or less trekking experience.
The area around Huaraz is truly awe-inspiring and if you have a good level of fitness then you’ll be sure to find something to suit you. From snow-capped mountain peaks to pristine lagoons, a visit to this part of Peru will certainly not disappoint!
Our favourite treks in Huarraz: