Article by Natasha Moon
Huayhuash trek is a remote and beautiful trek. It is possible to do this trek in a minimum of 8 days (what we did) but most groups do it in 12-14 days which allows to take it easy but also gives an opportunity for some side trips. This trek is also popular because of the documentary “Touching the Void” the events of which took place in the Cordillera Huayhuash. It is also possible to visit Siula Grande Base Camp which is famous by this movie. Unfortunately, we were unable to visit it because we were doing the short version of the trek. We considered different options before doing this trek because we did all the other treks in Peru self-guided which was much cheaper. It was hard to figure out logistics for the Huayhuash trek so we thought we better not do it on our own. Another option was to hire an arriero and some horses but if you do that, you need to provide a tent and food for your arriero. Also you would need to find transportation to get to the first camp. We found a good deal through an agency Huayhuash Expeditions, and paid 700 soles per person for 8 days which included transportation,food, gear(we used ours), and donkeys. In addition to this price we also had to bring some cash to pay fees as we pass different communities on the trek. Fees range from 10 to 40 soles per person and we ended up spending about 200 soles per person for the whole trek. We were not very happy to pay all this fees because it was the only trek in Peru that ended up being pricey. Most tour agencies ask more money for this trek but also might provide superior service, gear, and food. We saw other groups get hot water in the morning in front of their tent to wash the face and brush teeth. So if you want extra comforts like that, you could get it for more money. We didn’t need any of that, and the quality of gear wasn’t a concern because we had our own gear with us. I would advise to bring your own gear because economic agencies will not provide you with good quality tents, sleeping bags, and pads. We had a guide Salchi and his son Vinder as an arriero. Both of them cooked food for us and took care of setting up the camp and taking it down. Neither of them spoke English but they were really nice and took good care of us.They also had a big group tent for our group which was very nice to have for meals and as a protection from the wind and cold. Salchi also had two horses with him in case somebody gets hurt or sick. This came in very useful because on day 4 of the trek I got really sick so I got to ride the horse for couple of days.
No walking the first day. We were picked up from our hostel in the morning, and drove to the town of Chiquián where we were provided lunch. From there we drove further to the village Llamac and camped at Cuartelhuain. The drive took approximately 5 hours. At the camp we met out guide Salchi and his son Vinder. Our group consisted of seven people (4 guys from Israel,1 girl from Germany, Jake and I). We really enjoyed having other people with us because on all other treks it was just the two of us.
Shortly after breakfast we started our ascend to the first pass - Cacananpunta (4,700m) after that we descended to 4,200 meters and had lunch. After lunch we went over another very easy and gradual pass Punta Carhuac (4,650m). Everyday before starting our trek we were provided some snacks which included a fruit, some kind of treats (cookies, bars), and a box of juice. Very often for lunch we had some bread with guacamole, some sliced cucumbers and tuna provided by Salchi. Simple but nutritious and also tasty. Also everyday when we arrived back to the camp after hours of walking, we were provided some hot tea and a big bowl of popcorn to share. This day we camped by the lake Carhuacocha that had a beautiful reflection of mountain peaks.
After breakfast we went around the lake which took us some time because everybody kept stopping and taking pictures. Pass Carnivore(4,600m) was the only pass to go over on this day, but it is pretty steep and requires a lot of work. This is also the only pass that is not accessible by horses. Horses and donkeys went around the mountain with Vinder. Even if getting to the pass was a lot of work it provided breathtaking view of the three beautiful lakes. This was my favorite day.
Day four was the easiest day of the whole trek. There is only one pass to go over and it is very easy and gradual. After the pass we descended down to the camp that was located right by the hot springs. It was very nice to soak in the hot water and relax. I have to say that the hot springs were quite nice. All the campsites where we stayed had some kind of bathrooms which was nice to have.
This was another hard day with two passes to go over. The first one Cuyoc pass (5000m) is the highest point of the trek. The second pass San Antonio (4,990m) is optional. I had to skip the second pass as I was still sick but the rest of the group climbed to the pass and were provided with some spectacular views. Many of them said that it was the most beautiful view of the trek.
We went down to the village of Huayllapa where we had lunch. After lunch we made our way up to the camp Huatiac. There is a little store in this village in case you need to purchase something. I was able to by some medicine. The ascend to the camp is a bit of a workout.
We had to go over two passes on this day. First one was Punta Tapush(4,700m) and the second one Yaucha(4,800m). After that we descended to out last camp by the lake Jahuacocha. It was a beautiful and gradual descend with flowers everywhere.
We went over our last pass Pampa Llamac(4,300) for the last view of the mountains in the Cordillera Huayhuash. After that we descended to the village of Llamac(3,300m) for lunch and transportation back to Huaraz. Many groups start the Huayhuash trek here and Pampa Llamac is the first pass of their trek.