Peru: Stunning Cordillera Huayhuash Photo Trek – 13 days

In this world, there are a few places that stand Head and Shoulders above others – even with the outstanding choices people already know about in other ranges across the world..

The Cordillera Huayhuash in Central Peru (just south of the Cordillera Blanca) is one of those places that will leave you breathless, not only due to the altitude but because the scenery is so grand, so imposing, so…unbelieveably raw and beautiful!  This is powerful nature in all its splendor.

If the Lord of the Rings wasn’t filmed in New Zealand (which it rightly deserves), it could have been filmed here. Every day on the trek is another example of nature’s power to create beauty with a rugged exterior and alluring features. The peaks are tall, they are steep, they are covered with a layer of frosting made of hanging glaciers and the alpine lakes at their feet are a rainbow of complimentary puddles of colors….blues, green, grey, brown. Just amazing.

The Cordillera Huayhuash, situated to the south of the more popular Cordillera Blanca in central Peru, stands as a remote and formidable range, characterized by its snowcapped peaks. Among these giants are Yerupaja, Jirishanca, Siula Grande, Sarapo, and Rasac, each offering some of the continent’s most challenging and perilous alpine routes. Climbing endeavors in this region are known for their commitment, difficulty, and the presence of numerous inherent risks.

With limited options for accessible, easy-to-moderate climbs in the area, most travelers to Peru tend to focus on the comparatively hospitable peaks closer to Huaraz in the Cordillera Blanca. However, there’s a growing trend of climbers and trekkers heading to the Huayhuash, drawn by the allure of world-class trekking and climbing opportunities in a remote and relatively untouched landscape.

The Cordillera Huayhuash stretches approximately 30 kilometers from north to south, featuring seven peaks exceeding an altitude of 6,000 meters. Among these, Yerupajá stands out as the second-highest peak in Peru, soaring to an impressive 6,617 meters (21,709 feet). Additionally, Siula Grande, reaching 6,344 meters in height, gained fame through mountaineer Joe Simpson’s gripping account in his book “Touching the Void.”

In contrast to its neighboring Cordillera Blanca, the Huayhuash range boasts narrower valleys and higher mountain passes. It encompasses numerous lesser peaks, often shrouded in ice, as well as several passes exceeding 5,000 meters in elevation. Remarkably, one must venture quite a distance further away from the central range to encounter terrain lower than 3,000 meters, even in the valleys. This expansive area is often considered part of the Cordillera Huayhuash.

The region is sparsely populated, with small settlements typically situated below 4,000 meters, while the snowline begins at approximately 4,800 meters. The closest villages are Chiquián, located at 3,400 meters, and Cajatambo, at 3,375 meters. Some mining activities occur in the vicinity, particularly to the north of the mountains, where an unpaved road ascends to heights as great as 4,750 meters.  In 2002, recognizing its ecological importance, the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture designated the Huayhuash mountain range as a “reserved zone.” This protective measure prohibits certain economic activities, including any future mining endeavors, to safeguard this pristine natural environment.

Trekking in the Cordillera Huayhuash typically occurs during the dry winter months, from May to September.  Most of the trekking and camping experiences take place above the 4,000-meter tree line, offering a rugged and mountainous landscape with sweeping vistas over expansive areas. The region is celebrated for its breathtaking glacial lakes, adding to its natural allure. Additionally, there are hot springs, notably at the Viconga Campsite.  Throughout the region, you’ll encounter several stunning lakes, including Solteracoha (or Solterococha), Siula, Jahuacocha, Carhuacocha, and Sarapococha, each adding to the breathtaking natural beauty of the region.  While trekking, it’s common to encounter a diverse range of wildlife, including the giant conebill, the tit-like dacnis, the torrent duck, the elusive Andean mountain cat, the taruca (a type of deer), the majestic Andean condor, the peregrine falcon, and the impressive giant coot, among others.  Found in abundance are the domesticated llamas and alpacas, that are owned by the locals and are an integral part of their income source.

The Cordillera Huayhuash region is a sanctuary for high-elevation Andean grasslands interspersed with pockets of forest. Within this unique ecosystem, you’ll encounter native tree species like the Andean alder and various trees belonging to the Polylepis genus.  This rich biodiversity contributes to the region’s ecological significance and provides ample opportunities for nature enthusiasts and photographers to observe and capture these remarkable creatures in their natural habitat.

Tour Length
13 Days
12 Nights
Start / End City
Arrival: Lima, Peru
Departure: Lima, Peru
Best Season

May to September

Group Size Limit

10 Guests


bus and van


Hotels, hostel and tent camping

Challenge Level

Level 4 – Challenging


  • Lima, Peru, capital of Peru and port city and the center of gastronomic excellence in Peru
  • Meet and greet in Lima upon arrival and first-class bus service from Lima to Huaraz and back
  • The Center of the Andes Mountains – the world’s largest concentration and tallest tropical mountains with eternal snow and ice-covered summits
  • Very remote region of the Andes Mountains, south of Huaraz, with very few foreigners
  • Huaraz – the capital of Peruvian mountaineering, next to Huascaran National Park
  • Unique flora and fauna of the central Andes; condors, peregrine falcons, puma, Andean fox
  • Private vehicle and professional driver who knows the region intimately
  • Stunning and breathtaking landscapes of the formidable Cordillera Huayhuash
  • While trekking we use the best camp locations for easier access to iconic viewpoints
  • Transport of all personal and group gear and food via burros, llamas, horses, or porters
  • Certified bi-lingual guides with first-aid training


Our tour prices are based on a tiered pricing modelMore guests = lower price, per person.  That means the prices go down on a per-person basis as more people book onto a specific tour departure.  All prices are in U$ Dollars.

Contact us for guidance on a quote for your group or private trip.

Lowest Price7-10 travelers$ 3,750
Average Price4-6 travelers$ 4,495
Optimum Price2-3 travelers$ 5,345
Highest Price1 solo traveler$ 6,795
  • Single Supplement Fees are quoted per tour.  Contact us for details.
  • Deposit: $ 700.00/per person (non-refundable administrative fee, included in the final price).
  • International airfare is NOT included in price.
  • For airline tickets, please contact Geo Travel at 210-225-7903

Daily Itinerary

Tall desert mountains rise along the coast of the northern Atacama desert in Chile.

Day 1: Arrival in Lima, Peru – City Tour


Upon arrival to Lima, you will pass immigration and customs and be met by our representative in Lima. They will take care of your luggage and have a private vehicle to take you directly to your hotel.  Depending on your arrival time, you may participate in a gastronomy tour of Lima in order to get acquainted with the fantastic Peruvian cuisine (not included). Overnight at Hotel Second Home (4*) in the neighborhood of Barranco, the artists district of Lima.

Hotel: Second Home (4*)

Meals included: none


Day 2: Lima – Huaraz


After breakfast, you will be picked-up at 9 AM for a private shuttle service that will go overland to Huaraz, arriving around 5 PM. Upon arrival in Huaraz (3,052m/10,010′) you will check-in to San Sebastian Hotel and settle in. It’s very likely you will feel the altitude once you get to the highlands so we highly recommend drinking water constantly in order to help your body acclimatize properly. We highly recommend drinking mate de coca (coca tea) as it works wonders. Rest and water are key as well as some mild activity and eating lightly so your body has time to adjust to the altitude. Dinner on your own. Overnight at San Sebastian Hotel.

Hotel: San Sebastian (3*)

Meals included:  B


Day 3: Huaraz – Cordillera Negra – Huaraz


Today we have an orientation meeting to dial in all the details of the upcoming trip and answer any questions.  If you need anything you may have left behind, today is the day to get it in Huaraz.  Lunch on your own in Huaraz.  As we continue the acclimatization period, we will head out on a 4-hour excursion to the Cordillera Negra, to Puka Ventana, across the valley from the Cordillera Blanca.  Here you will have stunning views of the region.  The views to the east can be quite a spectacular show at sunset and sunrise.  Depending on how you are feeling with the altitude we may do the sunrise trip or a sunset trip instead as the setting sun will illuminate the Cordillera Blanca with warm light and the show could be a photographers dream-come-true. We hope the weather will cooperate and we will adjust accordingly in any case. Dinner as a group in Huaraz.  Overnight at Hotel San Sebastian.

Hotel: San Sebastian (3*)

Meals included: B, D

Lago Llaca in Huascaran NP in the Cordillera Blanca of the centr

Day 4: Huaraz – Laguna Churup – Huaraz


As we continue to acclimatize today we head out to the Cordillera Blanca and hike up to Laguna Churup (4,500m/14,760′) for some spectacular and up-close views of glaciers, alpine lakes, the  moraines and rugged peaks. Lunch en route. We will return in the afternoon to the hotel for more rest and preparation for the upcoming trek. It is very important to drink plenty of water and rest as necessary in order to give your body the time required to acclimatize, as well as to see how you are handling the local flora and fauna in your system. Dinner on your own. Overnight at Hotel San Sebastian Hotel.

Hotel: San Sebastian (3*)

Meals included: B, L


Day 5: Huaraz – Queropalca


We leave early in the AM for the day-long drive (approx. 8 hours) which will head south from Huaraz, then east across the southern end of the Cordillera Blanca, crossing a couple of high passes of 14,000’/4268m & 15,350’/4680m respectively, then dropping into the lower slopes below the Cordillera Huayhuash. We will see the jagged glacier-covered summits of Rondoy (19,255’/5870m) and Ninashanka (18,390’/5607m) at the northern end of the Cordillera Huayhuash and this will set the tone for the rest of the trip. These are spectacular and imposing peaks! We will have lunch at Huanuco Viejo ruins and stretch our legs a bit before continuing onto the town of Queropalca (12,464’/3800m), a typical Andean village where we will spend the night.

Hostel: basic accomodations

Meals included: B,L,D


Day 6: Queropalca – Laguna Carhuacocha


This is our first day of the trek and it’s a slow and gradual climb that is about 5 hours at a calm pace from Queropalca to Laguna Carhuacocha (13,710’/4180m) which is located at the foot of a massive cirque of peaks – some of the most impressive on the trek. This is the first of many up-close and personal interactions with the rock spires of the Huayhuash range which leaves you panting for air. Many of the biggest peaks rise from 17,860’/5446m to over 21,700’/6634m and create a massive wall of impenetrable rock and ice cut by obvious avalanche paths, waterfalls and extensive moraine and talus fields. Below this spectacle of white summits and multi-colored rock lies the mint-green frigid waters of Laguna Carhuacocha surrounded on three sides by the yellow puna grass that covers the rolling hills that creates a spectacle that is crying out to be photographed. We will spend 2 nights here so you will have plenty of time to make stunning images! There are families that live in the valley and we will make sure to meet them and share stories and make images of the locals as they tend to their high-altitude crops and animals like alpacas and sheep – all hardy enough to live here year-round. This is one of the most stunning places on the trek so make sure to maximize your opportunities while here. We will set up camp and settle in before heading out for the sunset light. Dinner and overnight camping.


Meals Included: B,L,D


Day 7: Laguna Carhuacocha – 3 Lakes


The sun lights up the summits of these peaks so an early riser will get the most out of it. Breakfast will be available early enough but if you want to get up before dawn to get the shots, we will have hot drinks for you before the main meals are prepared. As the sun rises the peaks get more illuminated and the photo ops keep coming so there are plenty of nearby vantage points where different perspectives will provide a varied palette of colors, shapes and scenes to fill your frame with. We will break camp today and have a very short trek to the 3 Lakes region a couple of hours up the valley so that we are prepared for the sunset today and the sunrise in the morning. There will be time to relax as well as hike in the area to scout out locations for sunset and to get closer to the peaks that are above our heads and dominate the valley views with their reflections in the three inter-connected alpine lakes. Lunch at camp. This is a stunning location and we will make sure to extract the most out of it. We will choose a perfect location for the sunset before dinner. Dinner and overnight camping.


Meals included: B,L,D


Day 8: 3 Lakes – Carnicero


The early risers should take advantage of sunrise before breakfast. Today could be a long day, due to the altitude gain, so we need to depart soon after breakfast. We will take what we need with us for the remainder of the day as the burros and horses cannot climb up this trail, and will take a different trail to camp (circumnavigating this small ‘hill’ we’re walking up. We will not see them until we reach camp in the late afternoon. Our trail heads directly to the peaks themselves and slowly rises through rolling hills of yellow ichu grass and puna bogs as we walk next to these lakes, reflecting the snow-capped summits of some of the biggest peaks in the Cordillera Huayhuash. We will be just below Jirishanca, Yerupaja Chico, Yerupaja, Siula, Sarapo and Carnicero all of which range from 17,860’/5446m to over 21,700’/6634m above sea level. They are jagged, steep and imposing. It’s a spectacular sight! We will be working hard to get across the pass at 15,744’/4800m but will take a break partway up the trail to take in a view from a lateral moraine and further up the hill by some house-sized boulders next to a crystal-clear stream before we have lunch at the pass. The views of the peaks reflected in the trout-filled lakes is a photographer’s nirvana. There are ample opportunities for making great images during the trek on this side of the pass. After lunch we drop into eastern side of the cordillera and head down into a wide and long valley. Loosing altitude quickly, we will pass some very photogenic bogs with green and yellow ‘puffy’ formations that reflect a few more huge peaks – Carnicero, Jurau & Trapecio – that form the perfect natural frames for outstanding photos. The trail heads down more and more until we come to a couple of lakes where local Quechua people have their homes and tend to their alpacas, sheep and pigs. They often catch trout with rudimentary tools and we may luck out and have fresh trout for dinner. Our campsite is located near these lakes and is called Carnicero (13,700’/4,177m) and be surrounded by tall, rugged snow-capped peaks on one side, steep limestone rock walls on another and ichu-covered peaks on the other. There is a creek near our camp to freshen-up before dinner. Sunsets can be very interesting here especially when there are clouds. Dinner and overnight camping.


Meals included: B,L,D


Day 9: Carnicero – Viconga Hot Springs


After breakfast we drop down into Huayhuash and then begin the slow climb over Portachuelo Pass at 15,580’/4750m and we will soon see the glaciers and summits of the Cordillera Raura in the distance, a rarely visited range that offers skiing, climbing and solitude. There are a lot of alpacas in the region as the people raise them for wool, meat and transport. A large man-made lake will be on our left (Lago Viconga-14,455’/4407m) as we continue up a small pass, next to a small hamlet, then into another valley where the lake drains into Rio Pumarinri which we will follow until we reach our campsite for the day. The river takes us via a circuitous route among typical puna meadows where there is good fishing here for native trout. This is Viconga Hot Springs (14,268’/4350m), where you will soak your muscles in a large man-made pool that is nice and hot and comfy to sit in with new water constantly flowing in. There is cold beer and sodas available for those that want to indulge and an area where you can wash some clothes in natural hot-water that flows right out of the ground. You can soak as long as you want and can make photos right from the pool if you feel like it! Dinner and overnight camping.


Meals included: B,L,D


Day 10: Viconga – Cuyoc Pass – Viconga – Alpayacu


We spend the morning going to Cuyoc Pass (one of the highest in the area at 5,000m/16,400′) and a stunning location right at the foot of Mt. Cuyoc and Mt. Pumarinri – both over 17,700’/5400m and will be right above our heads. There are condors in the area so keep an eye out in the sky as you trek through the region. We take our time as the views are fantastic. We’ll have lunch en route. We return to Viconga hot springs for one last soak, then depart down valley to Alpayacu where we will camp for the night. We need some time tomorrow to get out of the mountains and we’re going to cut the walking time as much as possible. Dinner and overnight camping at Alpayacu.


Meals included: B,L,D


Day 11: Alpayacu – Cajatambo


Today is pretty much a walking day but there will be great views of the mountain valleys and we’ll take time to make photos if we see something interesting, which there usually is, so keep an eye out. As we descend out the Cordillera Huayhuash and finish our trek in the hamlet of Cajatambo we get to relish the solitude and stunning landscapes that few get to see. Lunch en route. We finish the day in Cajatambo, have dinner and overnight in basic accommodations.

Hostel: Basic accommodations

Meals included: B,L,D


Day 12: Cajatambo – Huaraz


After an early breakfast we get picked-up in private transport and begin the long drive back to Huaraz, approximately 8-9 hours, but the scenery should be gorgeous and enjoyable. We will have lunch en route and arrive in Huaraz in the late afternoon. After a nice hot shower and some clean clothes we will get together and have dinner. We’ll enjoy our last night together after a great photographic trek. Overnight at San Sebastian Hotel.

Hotel: San Sebastian (3*)

Meals inclued: B,L,D

Mt. Ocshapalca (5,888m) in the Cordillera Blanca of the central

Day 13: Huaraz – Lima


After breakfast you will board a first class bus for the overland return trip to Lima (approx. 6-7 hours). Upon arrival in Lima you will be dropped-off at a hotel of your choice (previous reservations for you are required). If you have an international flight out of Lima this evening, you could be taken to the airport instead (your choice). We can help arrange your transport from Huaraz to Lima to suit your flight schedule. There are baggage weight limits for flights from Huaraz to Lima.
Lunch is on your own en route to Lima. Dinner and hotel are on your own in Lima.

We will be happy to make hotel reservations for you if you plan to spend the night and fly out the next morning.

Your hotel can arrange a proper shuttle service to the airport the next day for you and is the best way to go.


  • airport Transfers IN and OUT of your arrival city (Lima, Peru)
  • Bus transfer from Lima to Huaraz (best luggage/weight option vs. plane) – round trip
  • private vehicle and driver
  • bi-lingual photographer guide
  • all hotel / hostel /estancia accommodations for all nights (based on double occupancy)
  • all tent camping equipment when trekking
  • all daily meals as denoted on the itinerary as ‘B, L, D’ (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
  • all entry fees and permits to protected areas, national parks and museums
  • bottled water per person per day
  • snacks during the whole trip
  • more than 25 years of tourism experience

Not Included

  • international airfare to destination country
  • domestic airfare from Lima to Huaraz (will quote current round-trip price)
  • visa requirement and fees
  • personal expenses of any kind (liquor, laundry, personal purchases, etc.)
  • telephone, email, mobile phone, Wi-Fi services
  • emergency evacuation expenses
  • personal travel or health insurance, doctor visits
  • personal equipment and clothing


We, of course, would do whatever is necessary in case of medical emergency and evacuate to the closest hospital or clinic to make sure you receive medical care.