- Trek among the highest, most visually spectacular peaks in the Andes.
- Hike 5-7 miles daily with non-stop views of the Blanca's snow-capped summits.
- Pack animal support allows us to trek with only our daypacks.
- Combines easily with our Inca Trail and Machu Picchu Lodge treks.
Peru's fantastic Cordillera Blanca, with more than 60 glacier-clad peaks rising above 18,500', is the highest chain of mountains in the Andes. It lies at the heart of Huascarán National Park where majestic snow-capped summits, glittering turquoise lakes, and an established network of breathtakingly scenic hiking trails make this one of the most magnificent alpine trekking destinations on Earth.
A perfect post-trip extension to our Inca Trail and Machu Picchu Lodge treks, our Cordillera Blanca Trek offers fit hikers an opportunity to experience the grandeur of this stunning range through a series of hikes that lead us through deep gorges, alpine meadows, mountain passes, and small Andean villages.
Our route delivers unforgettable views of the Cordillera's giant peaks including Huascarán itself, the highest mountain in Peru (22,205'). Throughout the fully supported trek, we enjoy the company of highly-experienced local guides. Pack animals allow us to hike with only daypacks. We'll spend our evenings in a combination of small hotels and comfortable tent camps that lie in the shadows of the surrounding summits.
- Day 1 - Arrive in the Andean mountain town of Huaraz where our trek begins.
- Day 2 - Trek in Huascaran National Park with vistas of giant snow-capped peaks.
- Day 3 - Hike up pre-Incan stone steps to Punta Union Pass (15,584') for fantastic panoramas.
- Day 4 - Hike in Santa Cruz Gorge with views of iconic Alpamayo Mountain (19,511').
- Day 5 - Descend through beautiful Santa Cruz Canyon to Cashapampa.
- Day 6 - Bid farewell to the Cordillera Blanca and return to Lima this evening.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Arrive in the Andean mountain town of Huaraz where our trek begins.
Our trip begins today in Lima, Peru. You will be picked up at your hotel this morning and transferred privately to the downtown bus station from where the Cruz del Sur bus to Huaraz – the start point of our trek –departs at 11:30 a.m. (time subject to change). The 8-hour drive takes us north along the Pan American Highway through the Peruvian coastal desert and past sugarcane fields as we gain elevation and continue up into the eroded hills of the western Andes approaching Conococha Pass (13,385'). Reaching the pass, we enjoy our first panoramic vistas of the area's three mountain ranges: the snow-capped Cordillera Blanca to the northeast; the barren black peaks of the Negra range to the northwest; and the jagged summits of the Huayhuash to the southeast. We arrive in the mountain town of Huaraz (10,013') by early evening and are met and transferred to our hotel. Enjoy dinner at the hotel and prepare for an exciting day tomorrow. Dinner included.
Day 2 - Trek in Huascaran National Park with vistas of giant snow-capped peaks.
After an early breakfast at our hotel, we board our private vehicle and drive through the Callejón de Huaylas Valley – located between the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra mountain ranges – passing picturesque agricultural villages along the way. Turning eastward, the mountain scenery becomes increasingly more awe-inspiring as we ascend the slopes of the Blanca. Giant peaks such as Huandoy (20,866') and Huascarán (22,205'), form the granite walls of this U-shaped glacially-eroded canyon with its two lovely turquoise lakes. Forests of native orange-barked Queñua and Quishuar trees cover the canyon floor and colorful orchids and cactus grace the granite boulders and cliffs. The view of the spectacular iced amphitheater formed by some of the highest peaks of the tropical Andes – Huandoy, Huascarán, Pisco (18,871'), Chacraraju (20,039'), and Chopicallqui (20,846') – is one that will remain imprinted in our memories forever. We continue the drive to Vaqueria where we leave our vehicle behind and begin our trek along the Huaripampa Gorge, walking through the local villages of Collo, Yanachaca and Huaripampa. As we hike past swampy meadows, small lakes and stands of Queñua, we enjoy magnificent vistas of Chacraraju East (19,684') and Taulliraju whose 19,127-foot summit looks like a rock and ice cathedral. Our campsite tonight is located at 12,400 feet and offers a great vantage point for photographers wanting to capture images of some of the 20,000' peaks that surround us. Comfortable tents will already be pitched upon our arrival and dinner will be served by the camp staff shortly thereafter. All meals included.
Hiking: 6 miles
Day 3 - Hike up pre-Incan stone steps to Punta Union Pass (15,584') for fantastic panoramas.
Today's trek is filled with scenic surprises and many more gorgeous views as we hike through grassy meadows and along the shores of the Morococha Lakes. Part of today's trail includes a stretch of stair-climbing on a series of pre-Incan stone-carved steps leading up to Punta Unión Pass (15,584'), one of the highest points along our route. The panorama from the top of the pass is dominated by the impressive ice walls of imposing Taulliraju rising above Taullicocha Lake. We camp in beautiful Taullipampa (13,944') tonight, a perfect setting for taking in the Andean sunset. After dinner, our eyes are drawn to a night sky bursting with stars and we can try our hand at identifying unfamiliar Southern Hemisphere constellations including the Southern Cross and Southern Crown. All meals included.
Hiking: 7 miles
Day 4 - Hike in Santa Cruz Gorge with views of iconic Alpamayo Mountain (19,511').
We hike along Santa Cruz Gorge today, the snowy white summits of Artesonraju (19,767'), Paria (18,077'), and Quitaraju (19,803') towering above us. A glimpse of the south face of Alpamayo (19,511') in all its rugged grandeur is a feast for the eyes. Known for its pyramidal shape and lovely fluted walls, Alpamayo has often been called the most beautiful mountain in the world. We begin to climb upwards at Arhuaycocha Lake (14,599'), enjoying unobstructed views of Alpamayo before descending to Jatuncocha and Ichiccocha Lakes, keeping our eyes peeled for some of the highland bird species found here. Our campsite tonight is at Llama Corral (12,401'). All meals included.
Hiking: 7 miles
Day 5 - Descend through beautiful Santa Cruz Canyon to Cashapampa.
A trail down the left ridge of the deep Santa Cruz Canyon provides us with opportunities to appreciate various vegetation zones as we transition from areas containing plant life adapted to higher elevations to tracts with tropical species such as bromeliads and orchids covering the granite walls. After descending for most of the day, the rocky silhouette of the Cordillera Negra on the horizon signals our approach to Cashapampa Village (9,514'), from where we transfer back to Huaraz and our familiar hotel. Dinner is on our own in Huaraz tonight. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 5 miles
Day 6 - Bid farewell to the Cordillera Blanca and return to Lima this evening.
After breakfast, we have a little time to relax at the hotel before boarding our 11 a.m. bus back to Lima (time subject to change). A transfer guide will be waiting upon your arrival in Lima (approx. 7 p.m.) to transport you to your hotel or to the Lima airport in time for your flight departure. Please do not schedule a flight departure from Lima prior to 11:30 p.m. this evening. Breakfast included.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control including weather and terrain conditions.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
Hotel and camping accommodations for 5 nights; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; local English-speaking guides; group camping gear (tents, cooking gear); sleeping pad (if not bringing your own); camp cook during trek; pack animal support during trek; roundtrip bus transportation from Lima to Huaraz; private transfers from Lima hotel to Lima bus station (where bus to Huaraz departs).
Airfare to/from Lima, Peru; 2 lunches and 1 dinner; alcoholic beverages or soft drinks; guide gratuities; laundry fees; airport taxes; excess baggage charges or insurance of any kind.
This trip is rated as Vigorous . Trip members need to be strong, experienced hikers in good physical condition. Most days are spent at moderately high altitude (10,000-15,000') and the trek includes successive days of hiking and a number of steep ascents and descents. To maximize your enjoyment of the trip and to avoid sore muscles, we strongly encourage participants to begin a conditioning regimen at least 3-6 months prior to departure consisting of hiking, walking/running and/or cycling. If you live in an area conducive to hiking, get out on those hills and work some elevation gain and loss into your training regimen. The better shape you are in upon arrival, the more you'll enjoy all that this alpine adventure has to offer.
The dry season (also known as the "Andean Summer") of April-October is the best time to trek in the Cordillera Blanca with average daytime temperatures at 13,000' ranging from 60° - 70° F with evening temperatures dropping into the 30s and 40s. Days are typically clear but, as the trip takes place entirely in the mountains, the weather can be variable and rain is a possibility at any time of year. Please refer to the associated Gear List for specific recommendations on gear and clothing. Generally, if you are taking this trip in conjunction with our Inca Trail Trek or Machu Picchu Lodge Trek, you will already be carrying the gear required to trek in the Blanca.
This extension can be reserved for single travelers. If you are traveling alone, you will be asked to pay the full single supplement noted on the trip itinerary.
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Cordillera Blanca Trek – Peruvian Andes Extension Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To obtain maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you choose your clothing and gear for this trip. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.
Note: The maximum weight for each duffel bag while trekking is approximately 20 lbs. While on the Inca Trail, you will be able to store unnecessary gear and purchases at your hotel in Cusco.
- Sleeping pad (if not bringing your own)
- Cooking and eating utensils while camping
- Duffel bag, medium-size (used while trekking)
- Valid passport
- Airline tickets
- Large duffel bag
- Daypack 2000 cu. in. to carry your camera, water bottles, extra clothing
- Luggage tags and luggage locks
- Passport pouch or money pouch
- Sleeping bag (rentals available; please request from REI Adventures)
- Rain jacket, waterproof and breathable
- Rain or wind pants, waterproof and breathable. Side-zip pants are highly recommended.
- Insulated parka/ski jacket, down or synthetic
- Bring a few lightweight, easily washable items for travel and daily wear when not trekking
- Midweight fleece or wool sweater
- Fleece pants or tights
- Midweight thermal underwear tops and bottom, synthetic or wool
- Hiking pants, synthetic
- Hiking shorts, synthetic
- Long-sleeve shirts
- Hiking socks and liner socks, synthetic
- Liner socks, synthetic
- Sun hat
- Wool or fleece hat
- Wool or fleece gloves
- Sturdy hiking boots, waterproof, lightweight, broken-in, aggressive tread
- Camp shoes such as tennis shoes or sandals or other comfortable footwear for use in town and/or campsites
- 2 one-quart water bottle(s) or hydration system
- Flashlight or headlamp and spare batteries/bulb
- Watch with alarm or travel clock
- 1 roll of toilet paper
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Sunblock and lip balm
- Toiletry kit
- Small washcloth and small towel
- Baby wipes
- Personal first-aid kit
- Hand sanitizer gel
- Insect repellent
- Several Ziploc plastic bags
- Large, heavy-duty plastic trash bags
- Camera, spare media card and batteries
- Spare contact lenses or glasses
- Reading and writing materials
- Sewing kit
- Knee supports
- Travel pillow
- Hiking stick or trekking poles
- Favorite energy snacks and drinks
Things to Consider
- Please remember to always pack essential items such as your passport, money, eyewear, a change of clothing, hiking boots and medications in your carry-on baggage, in case your luggage is delayed.
- Wind chill can be a significant feature of this trip. Daytime temperatures may not be very cold, but when the wind is constant, and when you combine this with the stress that altitude puts on your body, you can be robbed of body heat quickly. Wind or rain gear is very important.
- Cotton is wonderful in warm weather. However, once it becomes wet, it will drain your body heat. Bring wool or synthetics such as Capilene®, MTS® and Thermax®.
- Always test your layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding and bunching up.
- Make sure boots are broken-in. Bring moleskin for foot treatment. Thin liner socks worn under regular hiking socks may minimize the risk of blisters. The liner sock should be synthetic, not cotton. Test your sock combination before you go on the trip.
- Travel clothes, extra gear and purchases are left at the hotel in Huaraz while we are trekking in the Cordillera Blanca.
- Stuff sacks are great for sorting gear. Use different sizes/colors to differentiate contents.
- Bring a garbage bag to line your duffel bag and keep your gear dry, should inclement weather be encountered.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.