Updated: May 10, 2019 If you’re looking for a more local hike, away from the hoards of backpackers in Huaraz, a hike to the Quebrada Quilcayhuanca Valley is a great option. Offering stunning views of the Cordillera Blanca, the trailhead is located only 30 km away from the city of Huaraz. The hike is of moderate […]
Updated: May 10, 2019 If you’re looking for a more local hike, away from the hoards of backpackers in Huaraz, a hike to the Quebrada Quilcayhuanca Valley is a great option. Offering stunning views of the Cordillera Blanca, the trailhead is located only 30 km away from the city of Huaraz. The hike is of moderate difficulty, mostly due to the high altitude and you can choose to either do a day hike or a 3-day trek Quilcayhuanca to Cojup Trek.
The trail passes through green fields wwith herds of cows, horses and donkeys. The valley offers diverse vegetation and is home to a number of different species including wild hogs, sparrowhawks, foxes, condor, deer, and Andean cats. You’ll commonly come across a variety of birds and ducks in the valley.
Whether you choose to do a day hike or a 3-day backpacking hike, we recommend visiting during the dry season (May to August). During this season, you’ll get sunny views of the snow-capped Cuchillo mountain range rising out of the valley. It’s also possible to hike during wet season (September to April). Although you’ll much more likely to get rained on, you’ll also get views of waterfalls pouring off the edges of the cliffs around you, their streams feeding the river that cuts through the valley.
If you’re planning to DIY the Quilcayhuanca trek, you’ll first need to make your way to the Lake Churup trailhead. From there, take a right and follow the road up. You’ll pass by traditional adobe and thatch houses scattered throughout the valley. These are traditional Andean farming houses, now used mostly by cattle ranchers.
The road will bring you to a set of buildings and a large gate, which marks the entrance to Huascarán National Park. The gate probably won’t be open, but the rock wall to its right is easy to jump (we confirmed with park personnel that this is OK). You can hike as far as you want, but we recommend stopping at a big bend in the river about thirty minutes into the hike, having a snack, and enjoying the views.
To get to the trailhead from Huaraz, you can negotiate a fee with a car or passing tour van that is heading to Churup.
For a more complete and authentic day trip, we recommend beginning the hike in the town of Llupa. This alternative route will take you through a smaller town and then through the valley. In Huaraz, you’ll need to first need to head to “Paradero de Llupa.” From here you’ll take a minibus or and ask to be let off at the cruce de Llupa. They will drop you at a fork in the road in the town of Llupa and you want to take the one on the right going up past the school.
At every juncture, just choose to keep climbing up the path – the steeper path is always the one you want. You’ll follow this trail all the way up to Pitec, the small town that is at the base of both the hike to Laguna Churup and Quebrada Quilcayhuanca. You’ll know Pitec by the large wooden park sign.
Keep following the road away from Churup and in about 2 km you will arrive at the trailhead for Quebrada Quilcayhuanca.
Yes! You can absolutely hike many of the trails near Huaraz without a guide. Though we always recommend hiking with a buddy for safety reasons. There are parts that are extremely steep during this hike, so make sure to take care. The hike is will marked but make sure you leave yourself enough time to get back before it gets dark.
If you’re a less confident hiker or you want to support the local community, consider hiring a local guide. They’ll be able to point out flora and fauna, teach you about the local communities, and guide you safely through the difficult sections of the hike. Also, if you are planning to do a 3-day trek through the Quilcayhuanca valley, you’ll want to hire a guide. Most agencies in town offer private guide services with additional porter fees, so you won’t have to carry your own tent, food, etc.