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Alpamayo Circuit

Without a doubt, the Cordillera Blanca range provides some of the world’s most spectacular and varied trekking and climbing landscapes. The 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). At 6,768 m (22,205 ft), Huascarán is Peru’s highest mountain, and yet it’s the pyramid peak of Alpamayo that is said by many to be the country’s most spectacular. Seasoned trekkers and climbers from around the world agree—Alpamayo is a peak of overwhelming beauty. Within this 170 km-long mountain range we find the greatest concentration of tropical-zone glaciers on earth. Turquoise glacial lakes abound and vertical granite walls rise thousands of metres into the sky. Our Alpamayo Circuit trek weaves a route through the heart of the mountains, crossing a number of high passes that lead us into valleys with remarkably varied mountain landscapes. The focal point of the trek, the famous Alpamayo pyramid was once voted the most beautiful mountain in the world. Our expedition sees us cross the continental divide and, after a succession of stunning views, finds us camping at the amazing Avalancha Campsite (4,650 m / 15,256 ft) where we look down as avalanches crash from immense fissured glaciers on the flanks of the Conrahierbas massif. As we trek we pass through remote farming communities that greet us with warm hospitality and allows us to gain insights into traditional Quechua Indian ways of life. The trek ends after our final breathtaking pass at 4,850 m and descent to the Ulta valley. This adventure has been designed with acclimatisation in mind and to ensure that the ‘work’ of trekking is properly rewarded by the satisfaction of being in an incredibly beautiful place!

Inclusions

15 breakfasts, 14 lunches and 12 dinners
airport transfers if arriving Day 1 and departing on Day 16
expert bilingual guide
group medical kit
comfortable and central hotels
all internal transportation
use of a gear pack including sleeping bag, fibre filled jacket and sleeping mat
group camping equipment
porters on trek to carry personal gear
portable altitude chamber carried on trek
Hightlights
Trek around the stunning Alpamayo in Northern Peru’s Cordillera Blanca—a region of overwhelming beauty
Walk amongst towering snow capped peaks, cascading glaciers, alpine meadows and azure glacial lakes
Enjoy wilderness camping, fully supported with 3 hearty meals a day prepared on trek
Encounter spectacular landscapes providing endless photo opportunities
Explore the city of Huaraz in the Peruvian Andes
Tour Provider World Expeditions
Number of Days
16
Price From
AUD $3,950
Start Location
Huaraz, Peru
End Location
Peru
Age Range
Avg. 30+
Group Size
4 to 16
Tour Style
Standard
Tour Themes
Adventure
Physical Rating
Moderate
Tour departure dates
StartEndAvailabilityPrice
11 Sep 201926 Sep 2019AvailableAUD $3,950
14 Oct 201929 Oct 2019AvailableAUD $3,950
20 May 202004 Jun 2020AvailableAUD $4,070
27 May 202011 Jun 2020AvailableAUD $4,070
01 Jul 202016 Jul 2020AvailableAUD $4,070
09 Sep 202024 Sep 2020AvailableAUD $4,070
12 Oct 202027 Oct 2020AvailableAUD $4,070
ItineraryExpand
Day 1
If you are arriving in Huaraz today you will be transferred from the bus station or airport to your hotel. The rest of the day and evening are at leisure. We plan to have a group briefing before dinner, however this will be subject to all group members arriving during the day – otherwise we will have the briefing tomorrow. Overnight in Huaraz.
Days 2-3
We now have two days in Huaraz to explore this stunning region with some day walks—and at an elevation of 3,052 m (10,013 ft), our time spent in Huaraz is crucial to our safe acclimatisation. Huaraz is a scenic town set at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca with views directly up to the highest peak in Peru, Huascarán (6,768 m / 22,205 ft). There is a range of different walking excursions we can make from our base here for a couple of days, and these hikes will be invaluable acclimatisation for our trekking program ahead. As the gateway to the Cordillera Blanca, Huaraz is a bustling tourism hub and also serves as a pick up point for our crew and all supplies and equipment for the trek. On Day 2, we walk to the pre-Inca ruins of Willcahuaín (3,400 m / 11,155 ft) and back to the hotel in a loop walk that will last 4–5 hours, finishing the day with a relaxing soak in the Monterrey hot springs. On Day 3, we make a day trip to Laguna Churup (4,485 m / 14,715 ft), a beautiful glacial lake set at the base of Nevado Churup (5,493 m / 18,022 ft). This is one of the most popular day treks in the Cordillera Blanca and takes around 4–5 hours to complete. The trek to Churup Lake is an excellent training and acclimatisation hike for our upcoming Alpamayo Circuit, and our efforts will be rewarded when we arrive at this stunning turquoise glacial lake. Overnight in Huaraz.
Day 4
Today we will drive from Huaraz to Hualcayan via Caraz, a trip of around 5 hours including stops. We head north from Huaraz, descending into the vast Callejón de Huaylas valley. We visit the memorial for Yungay, a town that was completely destroyed by the giant avalanche of ice, rock and mud that came down from the flanks of Huascarán during the 1970 earthquake. From here we stop to visit the busy local market in Caraz, before driving along an unpaved road up into the mountains to our first night’s campsite at Hualcayan village (2,900 m / 9,514 ft). Overnight at campsite.
Day 5
Today we set off on a steady, continuous climb, swiftly gaining altitude as we zigzag up to our next camp at Wishcash (4,300 m / 14,108 ft), perched high up the mountainside. From here we have terrific views west across the Callejón de Huaylas to the Cordillera Negra, and at night we can see the twinkling lights of the villages high up in the Cordillera Negra. Overnight at campsite.
Day 6
Today will be a tough day (8-9 hours’ trekking) and our pre trek training will be put to good use as we climb on a generally good zigzagging path to the crystal blue Laguna Cullicocha (4,650 m / 15,256 ft). From here we enjoy a magnificent panorama with the summits of Santa Cruz (6,259 m / 20,535 ft)—Santa Cruz Norte and Santa Cruz Chico—rising steeply at the opposite end of the lake. As we continue our ascent towards our first mountain pass, Osoruri (4,850 m / 15,912 ft; joint-highest point on our trek), our views of the surrounding lakes and peaks get better and better. We descend and climb again to the Vientunan Pass (4,770 m / 15,650 ft) before embarking on a long switch-back descent to the depths of the Quebrada los Cedros valley. We pass the terraced fields surrounding the thatch-roofed crofter’s hamlet of Alpamayo and soon after reach our camp at Ruinapampa (4,050 m / 13,287 ft). Overnight at campsite.
Day 7
This morning we will trek for a few hours on almost flat terrain up the beautiful Cedros valley. On the way we’ll see some ruined structures and ancient standing stones. Eventually, the spectacular pyramid form of Alpamayo (5,947 m / 19,515 ft) comes into view to the southeast. We then climb up the nearby moraine overlooking the stunning glacial lake of Laguna Jancarurish for close-up views of the Alpamayo and Jancarurish (5,601 m / 18,376 ft) peaks. Alternatively, we may venture to Alpamayo basecamp. Tonight we will camp at Cruze Alpamayo (4,150 m / 13,615 ft). Overnight at campsite.
Day 8
Today we have a trekking day of around 7 hours, first crossing the Los Cedros River and climb steadily to our next pass, the sometimes-windy Cara Cara (4830 m / 15,846 ft). This is the continental divide; all rivers running west head for the Pacific and those running east eventually reach the Atlantic, via the Amazon. From here, there are great views back to the peaks of Alpamayo, Jancarurish, Quitaraju (6,036 m / 19,803 ft) and the Laguna Jancarurish. We descend to a plateau and spend two hours on an easy traverse to a second, lower pass (Mesapata; 4,500m / 14,764 ft), before dropping to our camp at Safuna in the Quebrada Tayapampa (4,200 m / 13,780 ft). Overnight at campsite.
Day 9
Again, today’s trek will be around 7 hours long, and we start by crossing the Huillca plateau, one of few locations in the Cordillera Blanca where alpacas are found in abundance. We ascend a narrow valley to a rocky pass, Pucajirca (4,600 m / 15,092 ft), from which—weather permitting—we are treated to awesome views of the snowcapped peak of Pucajirca Norte (6,046 m / 19,836 ft). From here we have a short descent on steep scree, but it soon levels out as we continue down a shrub-filled valley flanked by quenual (polylepis) forest. We pass the beautiful tree-fringed Laguna Sactaycocha and continue our descent through rich vegetation to the broad Quebrada Jancapampa valley. We camp near the head of the valley (3,600 m / 11,811 ft); directly behind camp we have views of a huge hanging glacier and waterfalls cascading down a vast horsesh of cliffs hundreds of metres high. A lot of farming families live across the valley, and it is our first opportunity since Huallapa to meet the friendly local people and the curious, happy children who call the valley home. Overnight at campsite.
Day 10
Today we’ll trek past adobe house villages and cultivated fields, climbing first gradually, and then more steeply, to the Tupatupa Pass (4,400 m / 14,436 ft), from where we’ll have views of the big peaks of the Pucajirca/Rinrijirca massif to the west. Our trail descends via a small mountain lake (tarn) into the broad Tuctubamba valley that we follow downstream before making a short half-hour climb to our campsite beside Laguna Huecrococha (3,950 m / 12,959 ft). Overnight at campsite.
Day 11
We flank the north shore of Laguna Huecrococha then begin a long, gentle traverse of the steep, forested Huecrococha valley. At the valley head, the ascent steepens and zigzags to the Alto de Pacaraju Pass (4,650 m / 15,256 ft). At certain times of the year the lupins that cover the hillsides are in flower, and the scent can be intoxicating. From the pass we will have magnificent views of many peaks including the jagged Taulliraju (5,830 m / 19,127 ft), which towers over the pass. A rocky descent brings us to the open Quebrada Huaripampa valley and our camp at Tuctubamba (3,950 m / 12,959 ft). Overnight at campsite.
Day 12
We spend another night at the same camp to make the most of our incredible mountain surroundings. Today we have the option to take a day walk (5 hour round trip) to the beautiful Punta Union pass (4,760 m / 15,617 ft), from where we look directly down the Santa Cruz valley (the route of the famous Santa Cruz trek), across to the awesome sight of the Pucajirca massif. Directly above us looms the intimidating west face of Taulliraju and, with good weather, we might also see Artesonraju (6,025 m / 19,767 ft) to the west. Alternatively, you may prefer to spend the day resting around camp. Overnight at campsite.
Day 13
Today we follow the main Santa Cruz trail down the Huaripampa valley. After 3 hours, we pass through the intensive farmlands of the villages of Huaripampa and then Colcabamba. As we approach Huaripampa, Chacraraju’s east summit rises sharply before us to the west. Today we pass many farmhouses and small settlements, and many curious children will come running out to see us. We then climb steadily for another hour to the village of Challhua, before traversing easily to our campsite at Molino Pampa in the Quebrada Keshu (3,600 m / 11,811 ft). Overnight at campsite.
Day 14
Today’s trek is not long, but it offers dramatic scenery and swift elevation gain. We begin with a steady ascent of the Keshu valley, passing through some beautiful ancient quenual (polylepis) forest until we reach a mass of moraine enclosing a glacial lake. At this point the climb steepens as we head up the valley’s north side on a zigzag path to the plateau where our high campsite, Avalancha (4,650 m / 15,256 ft) is located. Across the valley from our spectacular campsite there are almost continual avalanches from the glaciers of Contrahierbas (6,037 m / 19,806 ft) crashing into the lake below. After lunch at our camp we’ll spend an exciting afternoon avalanche watching! Overnight at campsite.
Day 15
This morning we ascend for a few hours to a high narrow ledge and on to a dramatic knife-edge mountain pass. This is the last and most spectacular pass of our trek, Punta Yanayacu (4,850 m / 15,912 ft), where Andean Condors nest and are sometimes spotted in flight. From here we also have close views of the dramatic snowcapped peaks of Chopicalqui and Contahierbas. We then have a short zigzag descent into the Cancahua valley below. As we trek past glacial lakes, we are surrounded by towering snowcapped peaks including Contahierbas, the pyramidal Nevado Ulta to the south, and the highest—Huascarán (6,768 m / 22,205 ft) — to the northwest. We complete our trek with a long descent through quenual forest to the beautiful Quebrada Ulta valley, where our private bus will be waiting to take us back to Huaraz. The drive will take around 2 hours. This evening we will enjoy a farewell meal with our fellow trekkers. Overnight in Huaraz.
Day 16
After breakfast, our trip concludes. If you are flying home today, you will be transferred to the airport or bus station in time for your departure.