Laguna Churup is one of the most popular day hikes in Ancash. A short hike from the Churup trailhead, the Quilcayhuanca valley is an almost entirely overlooked hike with arguably equally stunning views. In the dry season (May-August), the imposing, snow-capped Cuchillo mountain range rises out of the end of the valley; in the wet season […]
Laguna Churup is one of the most popular day hikes in Ancash. A short hike from the Churup trailhead, the Quilcayhuanca valley is an almost entirely overlooked hike with arguably equally stunning views. In the dry season (May-August), the imposing, snow-capped Cuchillo mountain range rises out of the end of the valley; in the wet season (September-April), waterfalls pour off the edges of the cliffs around you, their streams feeding the river that cuts the valley. If you hike from Llupa, you will pass simple Quecha homes and farms, getting a glimpse of how the locals live outside of Huaraz. You will also get a great view of the Cordillera Blanca.
To enter this valley, go to the Churup trailhead and take the trail to the right instead. As you follow the road, note the traditional adobe and thatch chosa houses scattered throughout the valley – these are traditional Andean pastoral farming houses, now used mostly by cattle ranchers. The road will bring you to a set of buildings and a large gate, which marks the entrance to Huascarán
National Park. The gate probably won’t be open, but the rock wall to its right is easy to jump (we confirmed with park personnel that this is OK). You can hike as far as you want, but we recommend stopping at a big bend in the river about thirty minutes into the hike, having a snack, and taking in the views.
Trip Time: 4 hours
You can always negotiate a car to take you all the way to the trailhead, or join a tour van that is going to Churup and abandon the others for this less-traveled option. However, for a more complete and authentic day trip, we recommend beginning the hike in Llupa.
Combi to Llupa
In Huaraz, you are looking for a place called “Grifo Huaraz” or “Paradero de Llupa” – Huaraz taxis should know how to get there (pay no more than 3 soles). If you prefer to walk, it is on Avenida Gamarra on the Eastern side of Huaraz, towards the Cordillera Blanca. Tell the driver or the cobrador (the person who lets you in) cruce de Llupa. They will drop you at a fork in the road in the town of Llupa and you want to take the one on the right going up past
At any juncture, just choose to keep climbing up the path – the steeper path is always the one you want (we have one example below). You’ll follow this trail all the way up to Pitec, the small “town” that is at the base of both the hike to Laguna Churup and Quebrada Quilcayhuanca. You’ll know Pitec by the large wooden park sign (picture below). Keep following the road away from Churup (right) and in about 2 km you will arrive at the trailhead for Quilcayhuanca. Hop the fence (picture above) and continue as far as you care to walk.
Fork on the way to Quilcayhuanca from Llupa:
Trailhead for Churup and Quilcayhuanca: