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Huayhuash Circuit: the Best High Altitude Trek in Peru?

19th September 2018

Discover the Cordillera Huayhuash, where you’ll find some of the most spectacular mountain sceneries on earth; learn all you need to know before embarking on this amazing experience.
What and where

Located in the Peruvian Andes just south of the Cordillera Blanca, the Cordillera Huayhuash is only 30 km long from North to South, and is home to seven peaks over 6,000m (19,690ft). Among its most famed mountains are Jirishanca, Sarapo, Siula Grande (famous due to Touching the Void) and the Peru’s second highest summit, Yerupajá.

The Huayhuash Circuit offers a uniquely close-up experience with striking views of towering mountains in all directions, as well as seemingly countless glacial lakes. This high altitude trekking circuit can be completed in as little as five days, with standard expeditions taking between 9 and 18 days. Whichever way is undertaken, this is truly a captivating, as well as challenging, high altitude trek. Here you will experience a real “wild West” atmosphere, with the sensation of remoteness deepening with the more days you spend on the circuit. For more detailed information, visit this expeditions page.  

Best season to go

The best time to travel to the Huayhuash is between April and September, when the sunny days and cool nights make the whole experience much more enjoyable. High season is between June and August, and you can expect to jump into other hikers at this time of year. 

Start /finish point

The most recommended starting point is Huaraz, where if in need, you can buy last minute supplies including maps and some (varying quality) outdoor gear. Llamac and Caraz are also a choice for a few hikers, but there is very minimal infrastructure in these towns. Most hikers start with a camp at Quarterlhuain, and then hike the loop clockwise.

Fitness-level and experience required

This is a very challenging trek, maybe one of the most difficult in Perú. This is true both because of its length and its extremely high altitude. We recommend that only hikers with previous experience and strong physical conditions undertake it. For the best preparation possible, consider training ahead of your adventure and always save time for acclimatization. Those who are unsure about how to properly plan and execute a high altitude trek, should absolutely go with a guide. You might find this article helpful too: A Guide to Prepping Your Adventurous Vacation.

Altitude sickness

As mentioned, the highest point of the circuit above 4,850 meters; meaning acclimatisation is essential. Recognizing early symptoms of altitude sickness is important for both prevention and treatment. If you start experiencing nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches and/or dizziness, tell your guide or a teammate immediately, take a break and/or descend to a lower altitude to recover. In extreme cases altitude sickness can be deadly and so it is critical that you learn about it before heading up high.  

If you are looking for an amazing multi-day trekking expedition that will take you above the clouds, the Huayhuash Circuit may be just what you’re after; It’s a challenging experience for anyone, along with a fantastic feeling of remoteness.
The opportunity to experience wild landscapes, huge snowy mountains and crystal clear blue lakes, really make this the expedition of a lifetime!


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