Located in the central and western part of Peru, the department of Ancash holds important pre-Hispanic sites including the archaeological sites Chavin de Huantar and Sechín. But beyond its cultural legacy, Ancash has been carved by natural forces over millions of years, thus presenting an ideal landscape for camping and trekking, full of mountains, glaciers and rivers.
The two mountainous formations that stand out for their exciting scenery are the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash. Visiting will allow you to connect with the wildlife and appreciate the exquisite simplicity of camping in the mountains.
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The Cordillera Huayhuash mountain range is where the departments of Ancash and Huánaco meet. This range offers some of the best and most challenging trekking in the world. Covering three regions (Lima, Ancash, Huánuco), it is the home of the second highest mountain in Peru, Corona de Yerupajá (6,634 m). It is also known for its spectacularly beautiful lagoons, like Solteracoha or Siula.
The trekking circuit, considered to be more demanding than the Inca Trail, can last from 7 to 12 days. Along with glacier lakes and spectacular views of the snow-capped mountains, trekkers will also be able to see llamas, alpacas and condors along the way. You can book trekking tours from Huaraz or Caraz and they operate from May to September, which is the dry, winter season.
The Cordillera offers various treks, ranging from short and easy to long and challenging. One trail that is sure to impress is the Ishinca Valley trail, which allows you to experience three mountain ranges while using just one base camp.
Tours will take you from Huaraz to the starting point, a small town called Pashpa. From there you will trek to the base camp which sits right below the Urus mountain. On the second day you will trek to the summit of the Ishinca mountain, and the third and fourth day are for trekking the snow-capped Tocllaraju.
The Santa Cruz- Llanganuco circuit is one of the busiest areas of the Huascaran National Parks. It includes the Taullipampa campsite, named to after the abundance of Lupinus weberbaueri, known locally as taullis: flowers of blue-lavender color, which grow in shrubs in the high altitude.
When camping out there, the tents are placed at the foot of the snow-covered and imposing Taulliraju (5,830 meters) and the snowy Patia, Ririjirca and Artesonraju. Those who have visited say you will see one of the most beautiful sunrises in the Andes. After a short walk, you can also see Alpamayo mountain.
Laguna Purhuay in the Huari province of Ancash is a perfect place for families to enjoy the mountains, hike and do birdwatching. With its blue waters and lush greenery, Purhuay is an ideal place for a boat ride and for high altitude fishing.
There is another laguna for camping nearby, Ichic Potrero. This laguna is located near the Carhuascancha ravine to the east of Cordillera Blanca in the Conchucos region. Only a hand full of tour companies go to this region and it is not recommended that you attempt this route without a guide. The best advice is to find a guide and mule drivers in Chavin.
On this trekking route you will find beautiful polylepis trees, endemic shrubs to the area, and circulating streams of crystalline water flowing from the mountains.
If you want to learn more about booking a trip to Huarazas, Ancash, email [email protected]
Cover photo: Juan C. Lliuya/Flickr
This is a translation of the original article in Spanish published by El Comercio. The article has been updated from its original publication on Traveling & Living in Peru on May 14, 2013.
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