For those of you that have been following me for a few years, you already know that Peru is one of my first loves. I’ve spent many months exploring every corner of this stunning South American country. Few countries have it all, but Peru might have a case. From its rugged Pacific Coastline to the soaring mountains of the Andes, its vast deserts to the lush, biodiverse rainforests of the Amazon, Peru’s natural beauty is unrivaled.
For two weeks, we will be immersing ourselves intensely in one of those breathtaking biomes, the mythical Andes Mountain Range. While Southern Peru is as tried-and-true of a tourist destination in South America, Northern Peru remains a gem to be explored. The city of Huaraz, surrounded by 6,000 meter high peaks and turquoise glacial lagoons, is one of my favorite destinations in the world. You won’t believe some of the places we’ll be visiting until you see them with your own eyes.
I’ve personally designed this trip with my friend and local guide, Rodolfo. Our two perspectives on this region have combined for a one-of-a-kind expedition balancing the can’t-miss classics like Laguna Paron and Laguna 69, along with hidden gems of hikes and lodges that only a guy like Rodolfo with local knowledge could possibly know about. And of course, we will cap it off with my favorite trek in South America, the challenging but immensely rewarding Cordillera Huayhuash circuit.
This is a one-of-a-kind trip with a completely original itinerary, and you’re not going to want to miss it. If you are interested, sign up with the form below. If you’re a harder sell, keep reading.
Peru Expedition: The Tentative Itinerary
Dates: June 2023 – Exact Dates To Be Determined
Day 0: Arrive in Huaraz, Rest, Get Acclimatized, Welcome Dinner
If you’re flying to Huaraz, we will pick you up from the airport. Otherwise, we will pick you up from the bus station and take you to where we’ll be staying. Today is an acclimatization day. Get settled in, meet your fellow trekking mates, check out the local markets, before we all convene for a big group dinner together. Afterwards, we can tuck in early or cozy up in the cinema room and have a chill movie night. Or, we can party. It’s up to y’all.
Day 1: Starter Trek to Mirador Rataqueña, Transfer to Caraz for the Night
Let’s get those trekking legs acclimatized. Huaraz is situated at about 2,700 meters above sea level. Your lungs are probably already feeling the difference in altitude, so let’s take it slow. We’ll have a chill morning, take some time to get breakfast, sip on some coca tea and shop in Huaraz’s markets. In the early afternoon, we’ll make the trip up to Mirador Rataquena overlooking the city of Huaraz. We’ll take our time getting up there and get our legs and our lungs ready for the two weeks to come.
That night, we will transfer to the small village of Caraz to bring us closer to the mountains of the Cordillera Blanca and save us lots of driving back and forth.
Day 2: Laguna Paron
Leaving from Caraz instead of Huaraz gives us a little extra time to sleep in before taking on Laguna Paron. This 3-kilometer long glacial laguna is one of the longest and larges in the Andes. You’ll have to see the water to believe that it is actually that color. The mountain overlooking Laguna Paron is rumored to be the inspiration behind the mountain used in Paramount Pictures’ original logo.
We’ll start with Laguna Paron because it’s only 4200 meters above sea level, making it a good acclimatization trek. Staying in Caraz will allow us more time there. Most visitors to Laguna Paron only make it up to the first mirador, but we’ll have the opportunity to hike up to a second viewpoint of another laguna. We will spend a few hours in Laguna Paron, and can even hop on a small boat and row around the laguna for a little bit.
Following Laguna Paron, we will stay the night in Yungay. It’ll be an early night because the next morning, we’ll be doing one of the toughest treks yet.
Day 3: Laguna 69
Laguna 69 is one of the most challenging day treks in the Cordillera Blanca, but also the most rewarding. We’ll get up at 5 AM to drive to the trailhead at Cebollapampa. This is a quintessential trek in the Peruvian Andes. It takes us up to 4,600 meters above sea level, so prepare yourselves.
It’ll take us between 6-8 hours to hike to Laguna 69 and back, including time for lunch and snacks at the laguna. We’ll spend the night at a lodge in Carhuaz where we can have a traditional fogata (bonfire) and experience some Quechua food and culture.
Day 4: Laguna Hualcacocha
Today will be a pretty chill day. The roundtrip hike to Laguna Hualcacocha is only 7 kilometers, so we can take it as slow as we’d like. We’ll be spending the night at our lodge in Carhuaz again, where we’ll likely have another bonfire and barbecue.
Day 5: Laguna 513
Rodolfo calls this his favorite of the laguna treks in the Andes. On the way to Laguna 513, we will pass a few other notable lagunas. This 13 kilometer roundtrip hike will be our last big test before we set off on the Cordillera Huayhuash. Following the hike, we’ll spend the night in Huaraz at my favorite hostel in Peru. We’ll have a chill, cozy night in, maybe take advantage of the hostel’s cinema room and have a movie night. Or we can party. It’s up to y’all.
Day 6: Rest Day in Huaraz
Today is a free day. Do nothing if you’d like. You deserve it. The next day, we depart for the Cordillera Huayhuash trek. You won’t have cell service or Wi-Fi for a week so wrap up any loose ends before we go. Make all your necessary trekking preparations. We’ll advise you on what to bring, of course.
We’ll have a big dinner somewhere followed by a few beers at 13 Buhos. Afterwards, we can party at the raucous El Tambo and let loose. Tomorrow will be spent driving, setting up camp, and chilling. There won’t be any trekking on the first day, so this is as good a night as ever to party.
Day 7: Begin 7-Day Cordillera Huayhuash
On this day, we will leave for the Cordillera Huayhuash trek. This will be mostly a driving day, and we’ll arrive to our first campsite in the afternoon. There, we will chill, acclimatize, and enjoy the stellar views from camp.
Days 8-13: Cordillera Huayhuash Trek
I don’t want to spoil too much from this trek, but here’s a sneak peek of the epic views we will be seeing along the way. It’s another world out there. We’ll be starting early every morning, usually arriving at our next campsite by the early afternoon. We’ll spend the evenings relaxing, playing games, and enjoying the epic views from each campsite.
Day 13: Finish trek, return to Huaraz – rest, goodbye dinner, party
We return to Huaraz as champions. It’s our last official night together, so we’ll all get together for a goodbye dinner. If there’s any energy left in the tank, we boogie our butts off for our last dance.
Day 14: Go home or continue onward travel in Peru
There’s no doubt you’ll want to continue traveling around Peru and South America. From Huaraz, one can travel north and visit hidden gems like Chachapoyas tucked away in the Amazonas, or the city of Cajamarca oozing with culture and history. Of course, Southern Peru is full of adventure as well, from the desert oasis of Huacachina to the world wonder of Machu Picchu. I’ll be happy to help with any on ward travel plans, from hostel recommendations to the best things to do in Peru.
Expedition Cost: $2250 USD
- $750 deposit to secure your spot
- Group Size: 12 travelers maximum
What’s Included in the Cost:
- All Activities Mentioned Above (including entrance fees)
- All accommodation (lodges, hostels, tents – shared accommodation)
- All ground transportation in Huaraz and within the Ancash region
- 7-Day Cordillera Huayhuash trek with all food and camping equipment (tents, sleeping bags)
- All entrance fees, local fees, and guides and porters for the Cordillera Huayhuash trek
What’s Not Included?
International Flights: You will likely have to fly into Lima first, and then either catch a domestic flight to Huaraz or take a bus from Lima. The overnight buses in Peru are fine and affordable, but plan to arrive in Lima at least a day before the trip to give you sufficient time to get to Huaraz. Flights to Lima from the U.S. can be as low as $100 one way.
Travel Insurance: We require you to obtain travel insurance, and we will need a copy of your insurance policy.
Spending money: You’ll surely want to walk away with some souvenirs from this amazing country, like alpaca wool sweaters and hats!
What Kind Of Traveler Am I Looking For?
Open-minded, keen to experience new cultures and try new things
Northern Peru is still pretty rugged and untamed. Even the main city of Huaraz won’t have all the amenities that you’re used to. When we’re away from Huaraz, it’ll be even less likely that we’ll have hot water, laundry, Western food, and so on. An open mind and a laid-back attitude will make this trip much more enjoyable for everyone involved.
In good physical shape – the trip itinerary is designed to build up acclimatization and physical fitness, but you should be in good physical shape and comfortable with trekking long distances for multiple days at a time. You don’t need to be a world-class athlete to complete any of these treks, but the fitter you are, the better.
Experience with trekking and the outdoors – preferably some experience with multi-day treks, overnight camping.
Let me be blunt. This trip is not for everyone. This won’t be your cushy, five-star resort vacation. This will be an adventure of a lifetime, and oftentimes, adventures can be challenging and uncomfortable. You don’t need to be an experienced traveler or trekker, but you do need to have an open mind, an open heart, and a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone.
Comfortable with getting uncomfortable
You will be sharing rooms with other people and our sleeping conditions will be far from luxurious. Honestly, after a long trek, I find that I can fall asleep anywhere, but just letting you know not to expect king beds and Egyptian cotton. We’ll go stretches without hot showers and some of the treks will be quite challenging. This is not a luxury trip.
A big love for the outdoors, trekking, and mountains
This trip isn’t for everyone. If you have any concerns or questions, I would love to schedule an interview to make sure that you are an ideal candidate for the trip. Since this is a group trip, I want to be sure that there is a good chemistry shared between all team members. We are going to to be together for two weeks straight, often doing things outside of our comfort zones. It isn’t going to be easy at times. I want everyone to be confident that everyone on the trip will be a team player, and most of all, a lifelong friend long after the trip is done.