Orientation

This is a two day hike that takes you past 2,000 year old ruins, through a mountain pass, a Quenual forest, and finishes at a glacial lake above 15,000 feet. Few tourists know about the hike, but it is easily one of the best in the area.

Ancash, Peru

Hike Details

The hike begins by walking past 2,000 year old, three story Wari burial buildings. The trail continues up through an imposing mountain pass, which leads into a Quenual tree (a tree that only grows at altitude) valley forest. The forest offers many opportunities to rest and snack on large boulders overlooking the river and a respite from the intense high-altitude sunshine. Forest gives way to epic valley, with steep cliffs on either side and the gigantic snow-capped Mount Akilpo at its end. Climbing a trail at the end and on the left of the valley, you will doubtless struggle in the altitude, but will quickly be rewarded with amazing valley views behind and beside you. After flattening out again, we recommend making camp on the dry, slightly higher part of the valley on the right side of the valley. The hike will take around 7 hours and unless you live and consistently hike at altitude, you will likely be quite tired by the end.

Ancash, Peru

You will be camping at over 14,000 feet and will definitely need a tent with a fly, a thick sleeping bag, warm layers, and food. You can rent camping equipment in Huaraz before you leave (see our recommended rental company below).

After a cold, windy night of camping, you can continue toward Mount Akilpo and climb an hour and a half up to the lake at its base, Lake Akilpo. On a sunny day, this glacier-fed lake is a brilliant green-blue (thanks to glacial silt) and home to alpine gulls, which circle and caw overhead.

(Note: you are probably safe to leave your tents and much of your stuff at the camp site while hiking to the lake, but note that cow farmers do occasionally hike up near the camp site, so doing so is not entirely without risk).

To get back, just follow the same trail; it will take about 5 hours to descend.

Jack is Attacked by Gulls at 15,000 Feet

How to Get There

Ancash, Peru

You are aiming to get to the Honkopampa ruins.

Step 1: In Huaraz, head to the lower side of the market (the furthest from the plaza) and look for combis (vans) headed toward Jangas. Jump on any one of these (leaving every 5-20 minutes) and ask your friendly cobrador (guy who lets you on and takes your money) to let you off at the Cruze Tarica (about 30 minutes from Huaraz). This combi should be 2 soles.

Step 2: At Tarica, there will be a handful of cars sitting around, and drivers too. These cars fill up as collectivos (shared taxis), as people arrive. However, most cars only will go up the hill as far as Pariahuanca or San Miguel de Aco. In order to arrive at Honkopampa, you need to talk to the drivers and the other waiting passengers, and tell them you want to go to Honkopampa (for non-Spanish speakers, this can be achieved by simply saying ‘Honkopampa’). If you are willing to wait around for the car to fill as a collectivo with other folks headed the same way, the ride will cost 3 soles per person (or 5 if going to Honkopampa), but you have absolutely no idea how long you will wait. It could literally be minutes or hours. Otherwise, the first empty car in the line can be taken as a taxi right away for up to 30 soles.

Ancash, Peru, Akilpo

Recommended Gear Rental Company

If you need camping gear, we recommend using Andes Camping. They are located in the Parque Ginebra in Huaraz, on the back right if you are entering from the main street. Sleeping bags are between S/.8-16 per night, depending on how thick it is. A two person tent is S/.12 per night. Down jackets are S/.10-12, depending on the thickness and brand.

Map

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Akilpo

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Akilpo -9.365146, -77.580569 This is a two day hike that takes you past 2,000 year old ruins, through a mountain pass, a Quenual forest, and finishes at a glacial lake above 15,000 feet. Few tourists know about the hike, but it is easily one of the best in the area.