The valleys and passes around the mountain ranges of Alpamayo, in the Huascaran National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in the Peruvian Andes, offer some of the greatest mountain trekking experiences in the world.
For the full Trek Report by Jan Haenraets, with many more photos, see this LINK.
A great alternative to the full circle Alpamayo Circuit trek is described in this Trek Report, and cuts straight through the Cordillera Blanca from east to west, from Hualcallan to Pomabamba. The hike itself starts at the edge of the village of Hualcallan (2,900m), to Alpamayo and on to the village of Pombamba.
This route takes you past what many call the best parts of the Alpamayo Circuit, and offer the added experience of a charming impression of the remote rural and traditional mountain villages of Peru, and some of the social, conservation, and environmental challenges that these regions face. Both Hualcallan and Pombabamba can be relatively easily reached by public transport from Huaraz, so that it can be done as a loop ‘circuit’ too in 5 to 8 days.
In Hualcallan, at the start of the trek I ran into Mark Richardson of Ultralight Outdoor Gear (UK). We ended up covering part of the first days of the trek together. Mark was doing the full Alpamayo circuit and he published online an excellent trip report about the circuit (which also covers the Santa Cruz Trek), with lots of extra info about gear and getting there. The full ‘Alpamayo Circuit’ takes about 8 to 10 days, with the full circle being about 94km at altitudes of 2,900m to about 4,850m.
For Mark’s report and photos of the full Alpamayo Circuit (with some additional photographs by Jan), see this link.
Huascaran National Park is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site for natural heritage, and is situated in the Cordillera Blanca, “…the world’s highest tropical mountain range. Mount Huascarán rises to 6,768 m above sea-level. The deep ravines watered by numerous torrents, the glacial lakes and the variety of the vegetation make it a site of spectacular beauty. It is the home of such species as the spectacled bear and the Andean condor…” (UNESCO). The Cordillera Blanca range boasts more than 50 peaks over 5,700 m (18,700 ft), of which some 20 peaks surpass 6,000 m (19,685 ft).
Text, map and Photographs by Jan Haenraets
A note of thanks
Many thanks to the friends at Caroline Lodging in Huaraz who were great hosts and provided tons of insights into hiking opportunities in the Cordillera Blanca and the heritage of the region.