Things to Do in Huaraz
There was once a time when Pastoturi Glacier was a massive river of ice, but today this glacier in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca is shrinking so quickly that the glacier’s retreat has become a site in itself. Located in Huascaran National Park, Pastoturi Glacier—despite its demise—continues to offer an exceptionally scenic way to visit the Andes, and has become a spot to view the effects of climate change in action. Shining blue and white against the craggy peaks, the glacier consumes about three square miles of pristine Peruvian countryside, and is one of the world’s most accessible glaciers you can reach by just driving a car.
To get an up close view, however, you’ll need to get out and walk, which can take about 30-45 minutes along a weaving walkway. Up here in the mountains it can seem the clouds are right at the tips of your fingers, and the gaping blue sky stretches out like a canvas that rests on the snowcapped peaks. In addition to visiting the glacier itself, tours from Huaraz also stop at sights like shimmering Lake Patococha, and scenic vistas that instantly help you feel the magic of these mountains.
Set high in the peaks of the Peruvian Andes, Mt. Alpamayo is regarded by climbers as the most beautiful mountain in the world. Topping out at 19,500 ft. (5,909m) above sea level, Alpamayo is a serious climb for fit and experienced alpinists—but also enough of a straightforward climb that athletic travelers that hire a guide have a chance of reaching the summit.
Climbing the mountain can take 8-10 days depending on fitness and conditions, but if you don’t feel the need to reach the summit but still want to experience the beauty, you can book an 11-day circuit trek that encircles Alpamayo’s base. In a country with such a wealth of treks, this circuit can arguably compete with some of the best hiking trips in Peru, where views look out at the tallest tropical mountains found anywhere in the world, and explores the heart of a Quechua culture that still thrives up here in these hills.
Never in your life have you witnessed such an intoxicating shade of turquoise. Here at the mesmerizing Llanganuco Lakes in Huascaran National Park, twin dollops of turquoise water shine brilliantly against the snowcapped spine of Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. The first lake, Chinancocha, has rowboat rentals for enjoying a view of the mountains from out on the water, and the second lake, Orconcocha, has a loop trail that offers spectacular views of the lake and surrounding peaks. The tallest mountain in Peru, Huascaran, is visible from Llanganuco Lakes, which themselves are 12,631 ft (3,850m) where the air can feel thin when hiking. Even if you’re simply just standing by the water, there’s a sense of enchantment and mountain slope magic surrounding these lakes and this valley, where rugged cliffs rise in all directions as they seem to explode from the lakeshore. On tours that depart from Yungay or Huaraz, visitors will also make stops in villages and towns while en route to the lakes.