Located in the middle of the Andean mountain range, you will be in awe of the massive mountains and glistening lagoons found in Huaraz, Peru. At almost 10,000 feet above sea level, the city is known for its snowy peaks which offer a range of activities for tourists to engage in.

Huaraz city itself may not have many traditional tourist attractions but instead offers impressive natural landscapes making it an obligatory stop in the Inca country. The charm of this city is not only in the beauty of its landscapes, but in the climbing and camping adventures you can experience in its mountains. Travelers seeking adventure will find it in lagoons and snow-capped mountains. Those seeking history can discover it in museums and archaeological sites, and those seeking culture can enjoy it walking through the lively streets.

What to do

Trekking and Mountaineering

In general, the center of Huaraz is the ideal place to begin your travels, visiting the Plaza de Armas or the cathedral. If you want to learn about the history of the region, visit the Ancash Archaeology Museum. This historical museum contains monoliths and cabezas clavas (nail heads) that date back thousands of years and display the Chavin culture and history of Ancash.

Huaraz is known for its turquoise lagoons, surrounded by the snow-covered peaks and glacial valleys found in Huascarán National Park. With more than 600 glaciers and 300 lagoons, the national park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Since the variety is so great and the places so distant, we recommend traveling with a guide so you can peacefully soak in the surrounding views. Just keep in mind that when visiting the lagoons there are a mixture of easy to intermediate hikes ranging from 2 to 3 hours, so be prepared for mildly difficult terrain.

Lagoon 69

The hike to the 69 Lagoon is one of the most well known in the Cordillera Blanca, with beautiful landscapes formed by the snowy Chacraraju and its turquoise waters. The lagoon gets its name because it is number 69 among the 300 existing lagoons in Huascarán Park. It is a must for mountaineering enthusiasts due to its easy access and stunning views.

A visit to 69 Lagoon is recommended to those who seek adventure and trekking since it’s a 3-hour hike at more than 14,000 feet in elevation. It is strongly advised not to swim in the lagoon, as the icy temperatures make for a freezing walk back.

Llanganuco Lagoon

Two and a half hours from the center of Huaraz is the beautiful Llanganuco Lagoon. Comprised of two distinct lagoons, the Chinancocha and Orconcocha lagoons are characterized by their crystalline colored waters and bordering Quenual tree forests. Don’t be afraid to follow the guided path to gain a glimpse of the marvelous flora and fauna. Along with day hikes, you can engage in activities like windsurfing and horseback riding. The entrance fee is $10 PEN ($3 USD) per adult and $3 ($1 USD) for children.

Parón Lagoon

Located in the Callejón de Huaylas, Parón is one of the largest natural freshwater reservoirs in the Cordillera Blanca. The lagoon offers a wide range of activities such as kayaking, boating, mountaineering, and trekking. You can also spend the night in one of the various camping areas where you’ll have the opportunity to sleep under the mesmerizing night sky.

Due to the condition of the access road, Parón Lagoon is one of the least frequented lagoons with fewer agencies providing tours to this destination. However, many agencies will bring you to the quaint town of Parón where you can continue on foot to the lagoon. Since it doesn’t receive many travelers, Parón Lagoon is a quiet and relaxing off-the-beaten-path adventure.

Nevado Pastoruri

El Pastoruri is one of the snow-capped mountains of the Cordillera Blanca and a perfect destination for adventurers. Get your adrenaline pumping through various activities like ice biking, horseback riding, skiing or snowboarding. Inexperienced climbers can try out their climbing skills as the Nevado Pastoruri can be ascended with little experience. The general entrance fee is $10 PEN ($3 USD).

History and Culture

Chavín de Huantar Archaeological Monument

If history, culture, and archaeological sites enthrall you, then you can’t miss a visit to this World Heritage Site. Chavín de Huantar used to be the administrative and religious center of the Chavín culture, and nowadays is considered by some archaeologists as one of the first testimonies of civilization in North and South America.

The Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site is made up of a set of monumental structures with architectural patterns that characterized the Early Horizon period. The characteristics of the constructions are truncated pyramids, symmetrically located around wide main squares. These buildings have galleries, compartments, and corridors which are located at different topographic levels. The entrance fee is $11 PEN ($3.50 USD), and is closed on Mondays.

How to get there

Land

Bus:

Huaraz is easily accessed by bus from many locations in Peru including Caraz, Carhuaz, Casma, Catac, Chacas, Chavin, Chimbote, Chiquian, Huallanca, Huari, La Union, Lima, Llamac, Llamellin, Monterrey, Pomabamba, Recuay, San Luis, Trujillo, and Yungay. Prices range from $1 to $30 PEN ($.50 to $9 USD).

Car:

There are three main roads to Huaraz:

If you’re renting a car, it is recommended to drive a 4×4 since not all roads are paved.

Air

LC Peru is the only company offering flights to Huaraz. They offer one flight a day to and from Lima on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Moreover, the company has lowered the permitted luggage weight, which can be bothersome for budget travelers.

 

Overall, Huaraz is a quaint town rich with history and plenty of activities to engage in for outdoor enthusiasts. With some of the best hikes and adventures in Peru, a trip to Huaraz is definitely worth your time.