In July 1997 I did an organised trek around the Cordillera Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes. This is a small but spectacular mountain range located just south of the Cordillera Blanca and containing Peru's second highest peak - Yerupaja. The trek provides a mixture of cultivated valleys, remote farming settlements, snow peaks, glacial lakes and many high passes. Very few trekkers go to this area compared to other parts of Peru, yet it is one of the best treks in the Andes. Our trek was organised by Pyramid Adventures who are based in Huaraz. A selection of photographs from this trip is contained below. Click on the thumbnails to see larger images:

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Chiquian village and the Cordillera Huayhuash in the background. From Lima we drove for seven hours up the coast and into the mountains towards Huaraz. We left the main road at Conococha Pass and drove for an hour along a dirt road to the small town of Chiquian (3400m) where our trek began. From Chiquian we walked for a day towards the mountains, first through attractive, heavily cultivated terrain, then later through a hot, barren valley full of scrubby bushes and cactus plants.

Valley near Llamac
Rio Llamac valley. The first day's walk follows rivers all the way to Llamac village. There is a long climb towards Llamac that passes through a picturesque valley full of small farms and terraced fields. Our trek was a clockwise circuit of the mountain range that bought us back to Llamac eight days later.

Pocpa village Pocpa village. On the second day of the trek we passed through Pocpa village, just upstream from Llamac. There were no other villages after this. The large snow-capped peaks of the Huayhuash Range were mostly hidden from view during the first two days.

Cacanampunta Pass Cacanampunta Pass. We crossed eight high passes on the trek, the first of which was Cacanampunta (4700m). The pass is narrow and sits on the continental divide - water to the west flows a short distance to the Pacific while water to the east has a very long journey along the Amazon to the Atlantic. For the next eight days we would cross a pass every day and usually camp next to a lake nestled below glaciers and high peaks.

Shepherd's house A local shepherd's house above Lago Carhuacocha. Lago Carhuacocha is a beautiful lake situated below the eastern face of Yerupaja (6634m). We spent four days walking down the eastern side of the mountain range but the weather was unusually cloudy at this time, possibly due to the El Nino phenomenon which was starting to take effect. Cloud coming up from the Amazon obscured many of the peaks from the east, while the western side of the range was mostly in sunshine.

House in valley Near Lago Carhuacocha. The residents of this house have one of the best views in the world. Some of the valleys surrounding the mountain range are inhabited by shepherds and their flocks of sheep.

Local boy This young boy came out of his house to visit us. He went home happy when we gave him some of our food.

Llamas Pack llamas passing by. As we were waiting to cross a swollen stream on our horse, a herd of llamas carrying goods passed the other way. A real Andean scene.

Glacier at Puyoc Pass Puyoc Pass (5030m) was the highest pass of the trek. To reach the pass we had to scramble up a slippery scree slope. Next to the pass was a huge hanging glacier plunging from the peak of Leon Dormido. Beyond this pass we headed back to the western side of the mountain range and down the long valley of the Quebrada Guanacpatay.

Donkeys carrying our gear Donkey train below Diablo Mudo peak. Our gear was carried on the backs of donkeys and horses. The trekking staff set up our tents, cooked all the meals and looked after us very well. The food was excellent, especially the fresh trout we ate for dinner each night. The surrounding lakes and streams are full of trout and our trekking staff enjoyed fishing every day. One day we bought a sheep from a local shepherd and had fresh lamb that evening.

Rio Huacrish valley Rio Huacrish valley, situated close to the western face of Yerupaja. There were very few trees on the trek, but there were plenty of flowers.

Lago Jahuacocha Lago Jahuacocha. This was the last lake that we visited on the trek. The lake is close to Llamac and is nestled under the peaks of Rondoy, Jirishanca and Yerupaja. We heard many avalanches on the nearby mountains while we were there.

Campsite at Lago Jahuacocha Campsite at Lago Jahuacocha. As well as our sleeping tents, we had a dinner tent and a toilet tent. We would usually arrive in camp in the early afternoon then have afternoon tea or drink beer before exploring the surrounding area.

Yerupaja Yerupaja from the Pampa Llamac pass. From Lago Jahuacocha we headed towards Llamac along the Achin valley. As we left the mountains behind there were excellent views of the entire Huayhuash massif. From the pass we had a 1000m descent to the village. This completed our circuit of the mountain range and we then had to repeat the first day's walk along the valleys back to Chiquian.

Contact "alanlevy at pcug dot org dot au" for more information.

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Related Links: [South American Explorer's Club] [Huayhuash Trek Photographs] [The Circuit of the Huayhuash] [Useful South American Links]

Page last modified on Monday 6 January 2014