Day walks for altitude acclimatisation – Huaraz

by on 5th February, 2016

Heading off on the Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

Altitude acclimatisation in Huaraz

Andean Trails’ owner Kathy Jarvis, writes about altitude acclimatisation and day walks out of Huaraz, northern Peru.


She writes:

Fly into Cusco, Huaraz, Quito or La Paz and you’ll notice the altitude. Try running up the hotel stairs and you’ll wonder what happened to your fitness, and how you will ever make it over high mountain passes. Typical symptoms of altitude sickness include feeling light headed, breathless, dizzy, nauseous, insomnia or lack of appetite.

The best way to deal with altitude is to slow right down, make sure you drink plenty of water, or herbal tea, avoid heavy food and above all rest. Allow your body to adjust at its own pace, spend several days exploring gently before doing anything more energetic. When your resting heart beat is back to normal, your appetite is back, headaches have cleared and good sleep has returned then head off on some day walks, or easy trekking days.

There are plenty of day walks out of Cusco, Huaraz, Quito and La Paz, where you trek to higher altitudes and return to lower levels at night.  The recommendation is not to gain more than 300 metres between where you sleep one night and the next – climb high and sleep low.


views-to-alpamayo-santa-cruz-trek peru

Santa Cruz trek, Peru


Day walks out of Huaraz:

Laguna Churup (4,450m) is one of the classic acclimatisation walks. On a short drive through agricultural hamlets above Huaraz you’ll see shepherds and farmers working the fields using traditional farming methods. From the tiny village of Pitec (3850m)where the vehicle drops us it is a steady walk for 2 to 3 hours on a good path to the hidden Laguna Churup (4450m), a beautiful turquoise mountain lake nestled below Nevado Churup (5450m). The final 100m to the lake involves some scrambling but the effort is well worthwhile. Return the same way, a full day out with 4 to 5 hours walking.

The walk to Laguna Wilcacocha (3,750m) takes you, in the opposite direction, into the Cordillera Negra mountains directly opposite the Cordillera Blanca. The views are amazing views of ice-capped peaks and deeply gorged valleys. The walk follows steep paths past small farming communities. 4 to 5 hours return hike.

For plant lovers, something a bit different is a visit to the Puya Raymondi, largest of the bromeliads.  Only found over 3,000m  in Peru and Bolivia it flowers just once in its life on a flower spike that can reach 10 metres tall. Giant hummingbirds can often be spotted around the Puyas. On this day trip you can walk through the Puya and then continue towards Pastoruri (5250m)where there is a gentle trail up to the, sadly rapidly retreating, glacier and a glacial lake. There is less walking on this day trip from Huaraz, but it is an interesting day out.

Our local guides can take you rock climbing or mountain biking near Huaraz if you fancy a change of activity.

Contact us for more.


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