The city of Huaraz is one of my favorites in the world. But not because of the city. While the city of Huaraz itself is nothing spectacular, the region surrounding it is among the most beautiful in the world. With Peru’s finest Cordilleras at your doorstep, Huaraz is a gateway to some of South America’s most incredible adventures. These are the best day trips that you can do in Huaraz.
Pastoruri Glacier is one of the more easily accessible glaciers in Huascaran National Park. Nevado Pastoruri stands at about 5,250 meters above sea level, making the glacier yet another good acclimatization hike. The hike is only about a 90-minute round trip but it is a good way to acclimatize and see something unique and beautiful.
One of Peru’s most iconic destinations, Laguna 69 is not for the faint of heart. It requires a challenging high-altitude trek and an early morning wake up call (to the tune of 3:30-4AMish). However, it is also one of the most rewarding views you can get in the world.
Chavin de Huantar
These 3,500 year old ruins make Machu Picchu seem like a prepubescent child. It is almost impossible to fathom such a civilization creating a vast and complex city like this thousands of years before the ones we look up to as the cradles of civilization. Along with the Chavin Museum, this makes for an eye-opening day trip from Huaraz.
This is one of the best acclimatization hikes you can do to start off with in Huaraz. This was the first thing I did, doing it the first morning after arriving in Huaraz the night before. At 4,200 meters above sea level, it is decently high but the hike up to the viewpoint only takes about 45 minutes to an hour. It is a good way to get used to the high altitudes as well as catch one of the most beautiful views. Laguna Paron is the longest laguna in the Cordillera Blanca, stretching out for about 3 kilometers. Being surrounded by stunning mountains on every side, including the famed Paramount Pictures mountain, it is quite the sight to see.
Nevado San Mateo
Nevado San Mateo is a popular destination for people who want to cross off ice climbing off their bucket list. The snowy mountain is also a relatively easy trek for those who want to summit a snow-capped peak. San Mateo is one of the most recognizable peaks in the Cordillera Blanca. Although this excursion is a bit pricier than your usual laguna trip, it is worth it. You get to summit a snowy peak, see lots of glaciers, and cross ice climbing off of your bucket list.
One of the quicker day trips that you can take from Huaraz, the trip to Laguna Churup’s trailhead only takes about an hour. From there, it is about a 5 or 6 hour roundtrip, although arguably one of the more challenging day treks in the area. People consider it a good acclimatization trek, comparable to Laguna 69. Depending on your fitness levels and acclimatization levels, Laguna Churup can be quite difficult.
One of the best things about Huaraz is just how diverse the outdoors activities offered in the area are. Just a ten minute drive, one can go bouldering at an introductory park. At Los Olivos, one can go rock climbing. For the more hardcore, Hatun Machay is a rock forest about an hour outside of Huaraz. It is world-renowned amongst climbers and offers something for people of every skill level.
There are hundreds and hundreds of lagunas located in Huascaran National Park, and not all of them are named. Like Laguna 69, Laguna 513 didn’t have a name so it was assigned a number. Unlike Laguna 69, Laguna 513 is much more off the beaten path. Both are beautiful, but if you want to see something most travelers don’t, Laguna 513 is a must.
This Laguna can be combined with the Chavin de Huantar day trip if you go with a tour. Otherwise, it is a beautiful, quiet spot to chill. On a hot day, this might be the closest thing to a beach you’ll find in Huascaran National Park.
Laguna Wilcacocha is a popular day trip from Huaraz because it can cost you as little as $1 to do. It is free to enter and a colectivo to and from the trailhead will only be about $.30. You can split a taxi from Huaraz for about 15 soles ($4.50) total for added convenience. Although the Laguna itself isn’t much of a sight to see, a clear day will give you an unobstructed view of the mountains and the city.
You will pass the Llanganuco Lakes on your way to Laguna 69 but these stunning lakes are worth a trip in themselves. The color of the lake is difficult to believe, a turquoise so bright that it can almost seem fluorescent. Some tour agencies offer stand up paddleboarding trips to these lakes. Even if you aren’t up for that, it is a beautiful place to hang out for the day and doesn’t require hiking.
Other Things To Do in Huaraz
The 4-Day Santa Cruz Trek