The 7 best treks in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru

The Cordillera Blanca in its 180 km length has many paths, paths that run between 3500 and 5000m, under steep snow-covered peaks, alongside multi colored lakes, crystalline rivers and in some parts among vegetation of high Andean areas; these trails have been used from our ancestors, formerly using llamas, in our days using donkeys, horses and mules as pack animal. From all those paths we have selected the seven most important circuits and they are:

1. Santa Cruz trek

Taullipampa campsite, in the Santa Cruz trek

Considered by many magazines and travelers as one of the most interesting trekking circuits of the Peruvian Andes for adventure lovers, the same that allows us to know 3 Andean valleys and cross 2 passes above 4700m, from where you can see very closely the majority of the highest mountains of the Cordillera Blanca; In addition to camping in green areas, near water sources, walk on the shores of turquoise lakes that originate in the glaciers of the highest tropical mountain range in the world, the Cordillera Blanca.

Duration: 4 days
Best season: April to October
Difficulty: moderate
Length: 48 Km aproximately (walking)


  • Most popular circuit of the Cordillera Blanca and of Peru
  • It allows to see the highest mountains of the Peruvian Andes in a few days
  • See up close to Huascarán, the highest tropical mountain in the world
  • Observe the diverse flora and fauna of the mountains of Peru

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2. Alpamayo trek

Jancapampa campsite, Alpamayo trek

There are many paths that lead us to wonderful landscapes, this is the case of this circuit that cross points up to 4850 m, trails among trees and shrubs typical of the high places of Peru, camping near rivers and streams from where always there are impressive views of snow covered peaks, many of them above 5500m, where both sunrise and sunset make up even more beautiful the landscapes; we camp close to Alpamayo, declared as the most beautiful mountain in the world in photo contests carried out in 1966 by the German magazine 'Alpinimus'.

Duration: 10 days
Best season: April to September
Difficult: strenuous
Length: 145 Km approximately (walking)


  • Few visitors in the route
  • Look closely at Alpamayo, the most beautiful mountain in the world
  • Share with residents of the area, who some of them still carry out their activities in the field as their ancestors did and wearing the same typical attires
  • Tour the largest number of trails in the northern part of the Cordillera Blanca

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3. Santa Cruz - Ulta trek

Yanayaku pass, Santa Cruz Ulta trek

The classic circuit and known by many as Santa Cruz trek, has an extension of two valleys and a pass of 4830m more, the same one that crosses near the glaciers; this circuit takes us to see, two to three sides of the most important mountains of the mountain range, especially of Huascarán peak; the trails are the same used by the ancient residents of the region; in some parts those trails are cobbled with stones, and many of them continue being used by locals to transfer their harvests from their chakras (farmlands), that are in the skirts of the mountains. The composition of the landscape between the mountains, the valleys, the rivers, the farmlands surrounded by stones and separated by small roads are unique, and the possibility to meet with local inhabitants make this circuit even more interesting.

Duration: 6 days
Best season: April to October
Difficulty: moderate to strenuous
Length: 62 Km approximately (walking)


  • Walk around the highest mountain in the tropics, Huascarán 6634m
  • One of the passes crosses near to the glacier, and It gives us the option to touch it
  • Tour different valleys in the Cordillera Blanca in less than a week
  • Opportunity to get in touch with local people

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4. Shaqsha Rurec trek

Rurec valley campsite, in the Rurec Sashqsha trek

Because of the length of the mountain range, there are many paths that lead to wonderful landscapes; as it is the case of this circuit that takes us close to the Huantsán mountain whose highest peak measures 6395m, these places are not very visited by tourists, the same that makes it interesting; we camp on the banks of a lake, while we walk we observe the flora and fauna on the south side of the Cordillera Blanca; to make this trekking tour is not necessary to have experience, the most important is to be in good physical shape and a good previous acclimatization.

Duration: 4 days
Best season: April to October
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 46 Km approximately


  • Few visitors in the circuit
  • See up close the Huantsán mountain (6395m), the 2nd. highest mountain in the Cordillera Blanca.
  • Possibility of fishing
  • With a bit of luck we can see vicuñas and condors

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5. Olleros Chavin trek

Ruins of Chavin de Huantar

This trekking route has a cultural feature, because it runs the same trail used by the ancient men of the Andes, who came from everywhere, even from Ecuador in its eagerness for pilgrimage to Chavin, the most important ceremonial center of ancient Peru, developed between 1500 and 300 BC, we follow the same route from the Callejon de Huaylas in the west crossing the Cordillera Blanca through a pass of 4700m, to reach the Callejón de Conchucos, located on the eastern side where the archaeological complex of Chavín de Huantar is located, where is an impressive lithic work that still stands despite the years.

Duration: 3 days
Best season: April to November
Difficulty: moderate
Length: Approximately 35 km (walking)


  • Tour the oldest trails in Peru, more than 3000 years old.
  • Follow the pilgrimage route of the ancient Peruvians to Chavín de Huantar, considered the center of the world.
  • See the mountains of the southern part of the Cordillera Blanca.

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6. Quilcayhuanca - Cojup trek

Quilcayhuanca valley, Cordillera Blanca

This hiking circuit is located near the central part of the Cordillera Blanca, crossing two beautiful and extensive valleys, near to Huaraz city, that makes easy to get to the starting point of the circuit; to walk from one valley to the other we cross a pass of 5000m, from where you have a splendid view of the mountains located around it; we also see lakes and rivers of glacial origin, and these waters in their course form the Quilcay River, the same that crosses through the middle of Huaraz city. As in other parts of the Huascarán National Park, there is a great number of birds and abundant flora along the way, which, together with the snow-covered peaks, make this a very interesting circuit.

Duration: 3 days
Best season: April to November
Difficulty: strenuous
Length: 29 Km approximately (walking)


  • The closest hiking circuit to Huaraz city.
  • Special for people who want to walk without much assistance (backpackers)
  • Opportunity to see birds, especially condors from the highest pass.

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7. Honda - Ulta trek

Honda Ulta trek, Cordillera Blanca

This circuit of trekking despite being little known, in terms of landscape beauty is like the other circuits, we cross 4 valleys and two passes of more than 4700m, from where we have very nice views of peaks such as: Copa, Hualcan, Contrahierbas, Huascarán, Chopicalqui, among others. In the tour we have the option of visiting Andean villages, and see their residents in their daily chores and their houses.

Duration: 7 days
Best season: April to October
Difficulty: moderate to strenuous
Length: 92 Km approximately (walking)


  • Visit typical villages of this part of the Peruvian Andes.
  • See the mountains and valleys of the central part of the Cordillera Blanca.
  • Few visitors on the circuit

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