Adventures / Wild Hikes

Trek the Remote Peruvian Andes and Explore Machu Picchu

Witness one of the seven wonders of the world before completing the Huayhuash Circuit - one of the world's wildest and most scenic trekking circuits.

I'M UP FOR
Wild Hikes
DURATION
18 Nights
DIFFICULTY
Challenging
COMFORT
Basic
LOCATION
Peru
SEASON
May—August
NEAREST AIRPORT

Explore Cusco and the iconic, once-forgotten Inca citadel of Machu Picchu before leaving the crowds behind and heading to Huaraz to embark on what’s widely regarded as one of the most scenic alpine treks in the world.

Spend 13 days traversing the Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit, made famous by Joe Simpson and his book Touching the Void, and synonymous with sheer mountain peaks, pristine glacial lakes, and encounters with traditional Andean culture.

Your hassle-free adventure includes

  • Guided tours of Cusco, Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley
  • 12-day Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit trek
  • 7 nights in hotels, 1 night in a guesthouse and 10 nights camping
  • Local, certified trekking guide
  • Local, certified, Machu Picchu specialist guide
  • Camp cook, Horseman and Pack animals
  • Emergency horse
  • All camping equipment
  • All meals during the trek
  • Some meals on Days 1-5
  • Flights between Lima and Cusco
  • All travel while in Peru
  • Airport transfers
  • All fees, taxes, insurances and licenses relative to the trip

Perfect for

This trip is ideal for trekkers who want to tick off the two most iconic parts of Peru in one trip; mixing the must-do visit to Cusco and Machu Picchu with one of the most scenic trekking routes in the Andes, if not the world. If you’ve done a fair bit of multi-day trekking before and enjoy wildcamping in a spectacular mountain surrounding, then this trip is for you.

Need To Know

You should feel prepared to comfortably trek 6-7 hours per day. In order to make the trip as enjoyable as possible, your host recommends going on a few runs or long hikes close to the departure date to get in shape.

You don’t need to carry a heavy backpack, however, due to the high altitude (sometimes over 5000m), some days may feel slightly exhausting but it’s well worth it. Your host will always adapt to the pace of the group and make sure that everyone has an enjoyable time.

The trekking season in the Cordilleras Blanca and Huayhuash runs from May to September. Despite this is the middle of Winter the mountain ranges are dry since they are close to the equator.

During the dry season, the weather is generally very stable with one or two bad weather days per week. The freezing level is about 4500m-5000m during the day, but the strong sun can make it feel much warmer than in the valleys.

Wind is rarely a problem in the mountains during the dry season. Precipitation and temperatures vary in accordance to altitude; the average temperature is between 9ºC – 0ºC.

There are two important factors to maximise the enjoyment during the trek. One is a good physical condition and the other one acclimatisation.

Usually, travellers are advised to spend at least 2 days in a region above 3000m before starting the circuit trek. Your visit to the Sacred Valley and Mach Picchu, therefore, serve as ideal acclimatisation prior to the trek.

Previous trekking experience is not essential, however, you should have been on a few day-hikes in mountainous terrain before.

Your host recommends to pack:

  • 1 backpack with a carrying capacity of 60 to 70l (a similar sized duffle bag or travel bag can be used as a substitute)
  • 1 small backpack for day trips
  • Sleeping bag
  • Thermarest sleeping pad
  • 1 warm jacket or parka
  • 3 pairs of outdoor pants (jeans are not recommended as they are difficult to dry out when wet)
  • Warm sweaters
  • 2-4 pairs of woollen socks
  • T-shirts, shirts, hats or caps
  • 1 set of warm underwear such as long underpants and long undershirts
  • 1 pair of good hiking boots (make sure they are “broken-in”)
  • 1 pair of light shoes (runners or sneakers)
  • 1 set of light rain gear such as a pant and jacket combination or a poncho.
  • 1 water bottle with a 1-litre capacity
  • 1 pocket-knife or hunting knife
  • 1 flashlight
  • 1 pair of sunglasses (VERY IMPORTANT!)
  • Sun blocker or sunscreen lotion and lip suncream (VERY IMPORTANT!)
  • Underwear, personal items, and toiletries
  • 1 pair of fleece pants
  • 1 wool or fleece hat
  • Headlamp and Batteries (bring at least 2 spare sets)
  • 1 pair of Gore-Tex gaiters (heavy-duty, sized large enough to fit over plastic boots)
  • 1 pair of Gore-Tex shell gloves
  • Trekking poles (recommended)

Other recommendations are:

  • Camera
  • Mobile phone
  • Personal medicine if required (please inform your guide in case of emergency)
  • Journal and pens
  • Spanish / English dictionary (to interact with locals)

Yes, it is. The Cordillera Huayhuash is administered by autonomous villages (communities), who are the “owners” of the mountain range; they charge a fee in their respective camping areas and in return for the payment they secure the region with local guards.

On top of that, your guide and crew are well-trained to handle situations in case of an accident or altitude sickness.

During the trek, you don’t need to carry much. Pack-animals will be your best friend as they’ll assist you with the transport of all the food, equipment and luggage. Your host suggests to only carry a small back-back for water, your camera and a jacket.

Unfortunately, this trip is not suitable for children due to the long trekking days and the remoteness of the trek.

This trip will run with a minimum of 4 people, and a maximum of 12.

Sure can! A lot of people do, and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • International flights to and from Lima
  • Snacks and drink
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals on Day 1 and 19
  • Lunch & dinner on day 2 and 4
  • Breakfast & dinner on day 2 and 5
  • Dinner on day 17 and 18

This is a very fair question and we love to be transparent to show that the offered price is very competitive and equal to the price offered by local outfits if you’d book all services individually:

  • 32% - Your guided tours, accommodation and transfers in Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu (this also includes the return flight between Lima and Cusco)

  • 52% - Your guide, crew, packhorses and all respective equipment, logistics and food during the trek

  • 17% - Your accommodation in Lima and Huaraz and the transfers in between the two cities & the tour on day 6

We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.

Got a question not covered here? Contact the host.

Location

View map

Cusco was once capital of the Inca Empire and is now known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. It’s the gateway to an Andean countryside dotted with villages, high-altitude hamlets and ruins of ancient Andean culture.

One of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is on many peoples’ must-see list; this 15th-century abandoned Inca citadel is renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, and intriguing buildings that play on astronomical alignments and panoramic views. This ancient city was never revealed to the conquering Spaniards and was virtually forgotten until the early part of the 20th century; although it’s former use is yet to be discovered.

The Cordillera Huayhuash range is an incredibly compact mountain range, squeezing in seven dramatic peaks over 6000m, including the second highest peak in Peru, Yerupajá (6617m) and Siula (6344m); made famous by mountaineer Joe Simpson in his book ‘Touching the Void’.

Completing this multi-day circuit of the range is widely considered to be some of the best trekking in the whole of South America, if not the world. The area is adorned with multicoloured lakes, and Andean wildlife and plants. Barely populated at all, Huayhuash has just a few small hamlets dotted below the snowline.

Start point

Lima Airport - Anytime before 19:00
Your adventure begins with at Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) from where you will be transported to your hotel in Lima. Your driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals area. Please schedule your flight to arrive 30 minutes before this time.
If you’re already in Lima, you can meet your guide and fellow adventurers in the hotel in Lima for the trip-briefing at 20:00.

Finish point

Lima Airport - Anytime
At the end of your adventure, you will be dropped back at Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) in Lima in time for your flight home. You’re free to book any flight you like as there is no activity scheduled for the last day.

What to Expect

Day 1: Arrive in Lima

Arriving at Lima airport, you’ll be met by your host and taken to your hotel in Lima where you will stay tonight.

This evening, you will meet your fellow adventurers and your trekking guide who will brief you on the plan for the 18 days ahead.

Although no doubt full of excitement, try and get a good night’s rest in preparation for kick-off tomorrow.

Day 2: Cusco City Tour

Early in the morning, you’ll be transferred to the airport ready for your flight to Cusco at 09:00.

When you land, you’ll be picked up by your cultural guide who will be with you for the next 3 days to show you the wonders of Cusco and Machu Picchu.

After checking-in to your hotel, you’ll visit the Cathedral of Cusco; admire paintings from the colonial century and the beautiful altars. You’ll continue to Qoricancha (the temple of the Sun of the Inka Empire) to observe constructions from the pre-Inka, Inka and Colonial times such as the Santo Domingo de Gusman temple.

Sticking with the archaeological theme, you’ll be introduced to Saqsaywaman; a vast complex of huge 140-ton stones dedicated to the cult of God illapa (lightning, thunderbolt and thunder).

Today’s tour will end with a visit to the archaeological site of Tambomachay; a series of aqueducts, canals and waterfalls running through terraced rocks, this is a place dedicated to water worship.

You’ll arrive back at the hotel at around 18:00; there is a restaurant on-site at the hotel you may choose to have dinner in before you hit the hay for good night’s sleep.

Day 3: Sacred Valley and Aguas Calientes

You’ll be picked up from the hotel at 08:00 to make your way to the archaeological centre of Pisaq; observe the agricultural terraces, the religious zone, the urban area and the pre-Hispanic cemetery. You’ll also visit the local market of Pisaq in the province of Urubamba where you’ll enjoy a delicious lunch.

After lunch, you’ll continue to the village of Ollantaytambo, in the Sacred Valley; dominated by two massive Inca ruins, this is the best surviving example of an Inca city. Here, you’ll board a train which will take you to the city of Aguas Calientes where you will stay tonight.

Day 4: Machu Picchu

After breakfast this morning, you’ll take the bus to the eagerly awaited Machu Picchu for an unforgettable sightseeing tour with your specialist guide.

This is probably the most famous archaeological site on the continent; you’ll be intrigued by the huge, dry-stone walls built without mortar, in awe of the magnificent views and steep escarpments, and mesmerised by its story of abandonment and mystery around its former use.

With one of the seven wonders ticked off your list, you’ll take the train and make your way back to Ollantaytambo and finally return to your hotel for the night in Cusco.

Day 5: Lima and Huaraz

You’ll have an early start this morning for your 07:30 flight back to Lima.

Landing at around 09:00, you’ll be met by your trekking guide who will now be with you for the rest of your trip.

On a very comfortable first-class bus, you’ll make the 8-hour journey to Huaraz (3100m). Arriving at your hotel at around 21:00, you are free to collapse and enjoy a good night’s rest.

Day 6: Pastoruri Glacier and Llamac Village

An early start this morning as you are picked up from your hotel at 07:30 for a tour at 5000m; visiting the southern part of the Callejón de Huaylas, you’ll observe the tiled roofs of the Andean towns of Recuay, Ticapampa and Catac and sea of decorative crosses.

You’ll continue to Pachacoto, entering the natural beauty of the Huascarán National Park; you’ll witness Patococha (the lake of ducks), the gasified waters of Pumapashimin, and natural springs that can reach a meter in height.

Next, it’s on to one of the few glaciers left in these tropical areas, Pastoruri glacier; you’ll walk close to the ice mass, observing the undeniable effects of climate change.

At the end of a long day, you’ll take the 4-hour car journey to Llámac village where you’ll be welcomed to a local guesthouse with dinner and a comfortable bed.

Day 7: Cuartelwain - Mitucocha

You’ll leave the guesthouse this morning at 08:00 and take the 1½-hour drive to Cuartelwain (4150m). From here, you’ll begin your trek, making your way up to Qaqanan pass (4700m) - a 3-hour walk.

Traversing down to the East side of Cordillera Huayhuash, you’ll walk for another 2 hours to tonight’s camp, close to Mitucocha lake (4250m).

Set up your tent and enjoy your first night at camp beneath mount Hirishanca and Rondoy.

Day 8: Mitucocha – Carhuac pass – Carhuacocha

After breakfast at camp, you’ll take the 2.5-hour trail to the Carhuac pass (4650m). When you arrive, take time to admire the view of Yerupaja chico, Yerupaja and Siula mounts.

Continuing your trek, you’ll ascend for 2 hours until you reach Carhuacocha lake (4150m) where you’ll set up camp on its shores.

Enjoy dinner at the water’s edge and sleep well in this tranquil setting.

Day 9: Carhuacocha – Siula pass – Huayhuash

You’ll pack up camp early this morning and walk the shores of the lake on your way to Siula pass (4800m). This 4-hour trek will take you by the three lakes; Qanrajancacocha, Siulacocha and Quesillococha; with Hirishanca chico, Yerupaja and Siula mount as a constant backdrop.

After a rest at the pass and plenty of photos of the snow-covered peaks around you, you’ll journey a 3-hour descent to camp at Huayhuash (4300m).

Get settled at tonight’s camp; enjoy dinner and share stories with the group.

Day 10: Huayhuash – Portachuelo pass – Viconga

After breakfast this morning, you’ll begin the 2-hour trek to Portachuelo pass (4750m); this is the boundary between Cordillera Huayhuash and Raura.

This route is covered with a grass plant known as Ichus and therefore is home to llamas and alpacas that you may just catch a glimpse of.

Passing near to Viconga lake, you’ll reach tonight’s campsite after 2 hours (4400m); with hot springs nearby this is quite a spectacular spot.

Day 11: Viconga – Cuyoc pass – Guanacpatay

Today, you’ll trek to the highest pass, Cuyoc at 5000m; this 3-hour trek will take you between Cuyoc and Pumarinri mounts to astonishing views of Cordillera Raura as well as part of Cordillera Huayhuash.

A 1.5-hour descent will take you down into Guanacpatay valley (4400m) and eventually to camp.

Day 12: Guanacpatay – Mirador of San Antonio – Cutatambo

This morning, you’ll embark on a 2.5-hour trek to San Antonio Mirador pass (4850m); this is a unique spot offering views of Carnicero, Jurao, Siula Grande and Yerupaja mounts as well as Jurao and Siulacocha lakes.

Take a moment to recharge before you begin the descent through Cutatambo valley (4250m) to your next camp.

You’ll be ready for dinner, so set up camp and get settled around the fire.

Day 13: Visit the Glacier of Siula Grande

This morning, you’ll depart for base camp of Siula Grande mount, made famous by Joe Sympson in his book ‘Touching the void’.

After 2.5-hours of trekking, you’ll be rewarded with the glacier and Sarapococha lake (4550m). You’ll have time to truly appreciate the lake as you walk around and get close to the glacier for some great photos.

Taking the same path, you’ll return to camp with the thrill of having seen some truly iconic sights.

Day 14: Cutatambo – Huayllapa

After breakfast at camp, you’ll set off for Huayllapa village (3600m).

Taking the path along the river, you’ll trek for 3 hours through the Huayllapa valley, traversing through trees and shrubs.

Huayllapa village is a great opportunity to say hello to the locals and stock up and beers for camp tonight.

Day 15: Huayllapa – Tapush pass – Qashpapampa

This morning, you’ll leave Huayllapa village behind and begin the 3½-hour trek to Tapush pass (4850m) where you’ll enjoy views of mount Tuco.

Moving on, you’ll descend to Qashpapampa (4500m) which sits below Diablo Mudo mount and is often used as a base camp.

A further 2-hour trek will take you to tonight’s camp for dinner and perhaps some of those beers you picked up from the village.

Day 16: Qashpapampa – Yahucha pass – Jahuacocha

After breakfast this morning, you’ll make your way to Yahucha pass (4750m); this 2.5-hour ascent will be rewarded with views of the West side of Cordillera Huayhuash. Among the snow-covered peaks, you’ll see Ninashanca, Hirishanca, Yerupaja Chico, and Yerupaja; the second highest peak of Peru at 6634m.

Descending by Huacrish valley, you’ll trek down to Jahuacocha lake (4070m) and eventually camp.

You’ll set up your camp close to the shores of the lake giving you impressive views of the snow-covered peaks around you.

Day 17: Jahuacocha – Pampa Llamac pass – Llamac – Huaraz

On this, your last day of trekking, you’ll make your way to Pampa Llamac pass (4300m). After 3 hours, you’ll reach the final mirador of the circuit; this is your last chance to soak up the views of the Cordillera Huayhuash and capture those last shots.

After a moment or two of appreciation at the pass, you’ll descend for 2 hours to the village of Llamac (3300m).

When you arrive at the village, your car will be waiting to give your feet a rest and take you back to your hotel in Huaraz where you’ll welcome your bed.

Day 18: Transfer Back to Lima

After breakfast this morning it’s time to start your journey home. You’ll be picked up at 10:00 and taken to the bus station ready for departure to Lima.

In the evening you’ll be dropped back at your hotel again. Now it’s time to say bye to your guide before falling into your comfortable bed.

Day 19: Bid farewell to Peru

All adventures must come to an end. With mixed emotions after an incredible journey and unforgettable experiences you’ll be transferred to the airport in time for your flight home.

Note: This itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, and weather conditions and forecasts.

Want to skip Machu Picchu and start with the Huayhuash Circuit right away? Have a look here.

Accommodation

During your time in Lima, you’ll stay at the Runcu Hotel; the rooms here are designed for comfort and have en-suite facilities with a high-pressure shower, TV, free WiFi, controllable heater, air-conditioning and minibar.

In Cusco, you’ll stay at the Munay Wasi Inn; the hotel offers a relaxed atmosphere and the rooms consider space and comfort. You’ll have access to an en-suite bathroom with water heater, TV, free WiFi and refrigerator.

During our time in Aguas Calientes, you stay at the Killa Inn Hotel. This traditional hotel offers comfortable rooms with en-suite facilities, TV and free WiFi.

In Huaraz, you’ll stay at the San Sebastian Boutique Hotel or similar. Its prime location offers views of the stunning Cordillera Blanca.

The rooms are comfortable with en-suite facilities and room service is available.

In Llámac village, you’ll stay at a friendly, rustic guesthouse. They offer rooms of 2 and 3 occupancies, with shared bathroom facilities and hot water by solar thermal.

During the trek, you will camp at various points along the circuit, often with stunning views of snow-covered peaks. Once you arrive at the camp your supporting crew (camp cook & horsemen) will already have the camp set up for you, so you can settle in right away.

You’ll stay in spacious 3-man tents (2.15m x 1.80m) that will be shared between two travellers. Private tents are available for a small single occupancy supplement of $72 if required. Your host will provide all camping and cooking equipment.

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Dates & Prices

Prices include

Accommodation · Airport Transfers · Equipment · Financial Protection · Guide · Happiness Guarantee · Local Transport · Meals As Described · No Single Supplements · Happiness Guaranteed · 100% Financial Protection

Please note: Flights are NOT included and must be purchased separately.

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