The Cordillera Blanca, Peru’s trekking and mountaineering mecca
August 1, 2017
The “White Range” is home to numerous snow-capped 20,000ft peaks and some of the most spectacular trails on earth.
There are endless options for day hikes, mountain-biking or even road tours of this stunning Andean range.
If you are looking for adventure in the mountains, complete with some of the most stunning views on earth, then the Cordillera Range is arguably the best place not just in Peru but even the Western Hemisphere. A seven-hour drive — or one-hour flight— from Lima, the range is home to numerous huge mountains, including Huascaran, Peru’s highest at 22,205ft. To add to the attraction, many of those mountains are in easy striking distance from Huaraz, the regional capital. No wonder then that Huaraz, and the peaks that surround it, attract mountaineers of all levels, including from the global elite, not to mention trekkers of all ages and abilities.
A bustling town, with plenty of options for hotels and dining, Huaraz makes a good basecamp for your alpine adventures. While the hardcore mountaineers might come here to attempt to put up new routes on the steepest faces of the largest mountains, there are plenty of options for first time mountaineers just keen to get the feeling of summiting a snow-capped peak under their own steam. Perhaps the best known is Mount Pisco, a 19,000ft summit that requires little to no technical climbing, instead involving a strenuous walk up a smooth glacier.
There are other options too of a similar difficulty but bear in mind that even “easy” mountains such as these will still require you to be physically fit, fully acclimatized and to overnight at a basecamp typically at around 15,000ft. For those who do want to give it a go, the experience of standing on a summit, with other Andean peaks stretching off into the distance around you is something that you will cherish for the rest of your life. It blends both a sense of personal achievement with the chance to drink in this stunning landscape from a rare vantage point. And, of course, we will hook you up with one of the best mountain guides in Peru.
The two most famous treks are the Santa Cruz route and the Alpamayo route. The former typically takes around five days and the latter up to two weeks. Much of both routes is over 12,000ft and the Alpayamo trek passes below Mount Alpamayo, a peak coveted by mountaineers for its “perfect” (steep) pyramidal shape. There are many other options for day hikes and even mountain-biking, the latter especially in the Cordillera Negra or “Black Range” which runs parallel to the Cordillera Blanca but is slightly lower and thus has no snow, but with jaw dropping views of Huascaran and the other peaks of the White Range. If you want to mix in some cultural activities to your time in Huaraz, you can also visit Chavin de Huantar, an important pre-Inca archaeological site a couple of hours drive away.
To learn more about the Incas as part of your unique, individually tailored Peru itinerary, contact the Peru Empire Company at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +51-1-700-5100 or, if you are in the US, 347-713-7030/34.