The hike up to Laguna Churup was one of my favorite day trips that I did during my time in Huaraz. You’ll get an incredible abundance of views, some good practice for higher altitude treks, and best of all, you’ll be back in Huaraz by lunchtime. Laguna Churup’s ideal location only an hour to and from Huaraz makes it a great option for those who want to do a solo hike without having to spend half their day in a tour bus. Even on a cloudy day like the one I got, Laguna Churup seemed like a lake straight out of a fairy tale. The towering mountains surrounding the lake and its surreal colors makes for an unforgettable scene.
Here’s everything you need to know about this epic hike in Peru’s Huascaran National Park.
How To Get To And From Laguna Churup
Don’t do this one with a tour group. While you’ll likely need to go with a tour agency for some of the further and more difficult to reach treks within the Cordillera Blanca, Laguna Churup is just a colectivo ride away. You’ll need to take one of the colectivos that has Pitec/Pitek or Llupa on the front of their windshield. The ride from Huaraz costs 10 soles and you’ll be able to catch a colectivo back from the trailhead for the same price.
If you want to be one of the first groups at the Laguna, try to get to the colectivos by 7 AM. If you have the Maps.Me app, look up “combi to Llupa” and you’ll find a line of vans waiting for you there. They usually wait until the vans fill up to leave, which could take anywhere from ten seconds to never. The first time my friend and I attempted to go to Laguna Churup, we showed up around 8:30 AM and waited for about thirty minutes before accepting that no one else was going to go to the laguna that late.
On my second attempt, my friends wanted to meet at the colectivos around 6:40 AM. Thinking that it would take a while, I took my sweet time getting there. My friend had to hang out of the window and yell my name as the colectivo drove by me just so I could catch it. There’s really no rhyme or reason to how transportation in South America works. It looks like realistically, you’re going to want to show up around 7 AM or earlier or with a group big enough to get the colectivo to go without waiting too long.
As far as going back, most colectivos will wait until about 3 PM to scoop up people from the Laguna. We finished at around 1:15 PM and were almost immediately able to get a colectivo back. I’ve heard that if you miss all of the colectivos, you can walk an extra hour to the town of Llupa and catch a colectivo or hitchhike your way back to Huaraz from there.
What To Bring For Laguna Churup
The hike to Laguna Churup will last about 5 or 6 hours, depending on how often you stop and how long you spend at the laguna, the mirador, and whether or not you try to make it up to the neighboring Laguna Churupita. As with all hikes, bring good shoes, preferably hiking boots. Hiking sticks will help as well. Make sure to bring a raincoat, a poncho, and a bag cover in case the weather isn’t the best. If you’re lucky enough to get a sunny day, some sunglasses and sunblock will come in very handy, especially at these elevations where the sun can be much harsher.
As far as food and water, you might want to bring a packed lunch, a few snacks, and around two liters of water. You will have an early start so you might not have a chance to eat breakfast so make sure you’ve packed some stuff to give you energy throughout the hike.
Also, make sure to bring 30 soles for the entrance fee to Huascaran National Park. Sometimes, there isn’t a guy checking tickets at the entrance but make sure to bring money just in case there is. I had to pay 30 soles but my friends who did it a few days prior did not have anyone there to charge them an entrance fee. You can also purchase a pass to Huascaran National Park that can be either 2-4 days or 4-30 days for 60 and 150 soles respectively.
What Is The Hike To Laguna Churup Like?
I had already been in Huaraz nearly three weeks by the time I finally made it to Laguna Churup. I was hiking with 4 girls who had just arrived a few days earlier. We had very different experiences with the hike. If you are just getting used to the altitude in this region of Peru, then Laguna Churup will be much more difficult.
Although it is not as high as Laguna 69 or some of the other treks in the area, at 4,450 meters, it is still a pretty daunting elevation. If you have yet to adjust to the altitude, it will be harder to breathe and you’ll likely find yourself needing to stop more to catch your breath or rest your legs. Despite this, I consider Laguna Churup to be very doable.
The first stretch of the Laguna Churup hike is almost entirely stairs. It’s kind of nice having a somewhat paved trail but the steady incline can be a discouraging way to start, especially if one is struggling with the altitude. You will pass three huts along this trail and then eventually come to a flat, dirt path. It is easy going for several minutes before the fun begins.
You’ll come to a fork in the path where you can either choose to go left or right. Left will take you up a steep but straightforward path to the Laguna’s mirador before you can walk down to the Laguna itself. Opting to go right is the more adventurous option, which entails a rope section where you’ll have to ninja your way up a a few steep rock faces. On a dry day, it can be doable by pretty much anyone. On a wet day, like the one we got, it becomes a lot more treacherous. All of us made it up fine but there were definitely some shaky moments.
From here, you’ll just follow the rocks until you reach the Laguna. Again, on a slippery day, this is a lot less straightforward than it sounds. Take it slow if you need to. Good hiking boots and hiking poles come in really handy at this part. I actually jammed my cheap hiking poles here as I tried getting up a muddy section. Don’t trust those 20 soles hiking poles at the market to last for more than a few hikes, just a word of caution.
Views Of Laguna Churup
Congratulations! You’ve made it to Laguna Churup. This is undoubtedly one of Peru’s most beautiful lagunas, with the stunning snow-capped Nevado Churup standing stoically in the background. The mystical colors of the laguna’s waters add a beautiful element to Churup that you won’t find in too many other lagunas in Peru. Although Churup is a popular day hike, the area around the laguna is large enough that you can spread out and find yourself a nice rock to hang out on. Walking around the laguna will give you some stunning perspectives, and there are miradors everywhere you go.
To go back to the trailhead, go up to the mirador Churup, take in the views, and then follow the trail back down. It took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to get from the mirador back to the trailhead. In total, it took us less than four hours of actual hiking to complete the roundtrip, but accounting for photo and snack stops, the journey took about five hours.
Where To Stay In Huaraz
Post-hike relaxation sesh? I literally cannot recommend Selina enough. It was a perfect place to go back to after an exhausting day trek. Comfy beds, huge blankets, a library, a cinema room, and a bar means you’ll have a great way to relax post-hike whether you’re a napper or a celebrator. I stayed at Selina for over two weeks during my time in Huaraz and loved every night of my stay.