The highland city of Huaraz is located at 3100 meters above sea level in the department of Ancash in the Peruvian Andes in a valley between the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra. It has long been a mecca for adventure tourism, but what is less known is that Huaraz is well situated to also be considered one of the world’s best destinations for nature tourism. The word is slowly getting out and more and more people are coming specifically to experience its natural wonders.
In this region there are almost limitless options for treks ranging from one day to multiple days. There are also many 5000 and 6000 meter peaks, which are coveted by both expert and novice climbers from around the world. Furthermore, the region boasts many excellent routes ideal for cyclists and also various important archeological ruins such as Chavín de Huantar.
Lima – Huaraz
Huaraz lies 408 kilometers to the northeast of Peru’s capital city, Lima. The entire route is paved. The road travels north along the Pacific coast via the Pan-American Highway to the town of Pativilca, where you take a right turn and begin the long climb to Huaraz, the city of international friendship. This route is served by comfortable interprovincial buses that respect all the current sanitary protocols. Among the various companies that drive this route, the most recommended are: Cruz del Sur, Oltursa, Civa, and Movil Bus.
Trujillo – Huaraz
Huaraz is located 310 kilometers to the southeast of Trujillo. To get to Huaraz from Trujillo you will first need to drive south on the Pan-American Highway, passing Chimbote, until you arrive in Casma where you turn east toward the Cordillera Negra. This will take you directly to Huaraz. The bus companies serving this route are Linea and Movil Bus.
Currently there are no airlines serving the Lima to Huaraz route, but there are rumors that Atsa Airlines will soon be offering flights.
When to visit
Huaraz is located at the foot of the world’s highest tropical mountain range and thus enjoys a temperate climate. Temperatures range between 20 and 23° C during the day and 6 and 12° C at night. July is the coldest month and February and March are the rainiest. There are two clearly defined seasons, the dry season and the rainy season.
The dry season: May – September
This is the best season to visit the mountains of Ancash, the city of Huaraz, and the Huaylas Valley. This season is characterized by the general absence of rain (although on occasion there are sporadic rain showers), for its blue skies, and for its cloudless views of the mountains. These are the best months for outdoor activities such as day hikes, multiple-day treks in the Cordillera Blanca and the Huayhuash, rock and ice climbs, skiing, mountain biking, parapente, and more.
The rainy season
- At some point between the months of October and December begin the first rains of the season, but the weather often stable enough for multi-day treks and some alpine climbing.
- The wettest part of the rainy season lasts from January to March. In this season it rains almost every day, but generally just in the afternoons. Although the mountains are very snowy, the waterfalls are more active, and the countryside is green, the views from the passes are usually obscured and you can get very wet, thus, multi-day treks in this season are, while possible, not recommended. On the other hand, less ambitious outings that can be done in a day are generally fine as long as you get an early start to take advantage of the clear skies in the morning.
Things to do in Huaraz
Huaraz is the largest city in the Huaylas Valley and has all the basic services you would associate with a tourist town. It is the most popular point of departure for all of the tourist destinations in the Huaylas Valley, the Conchucos Valley, the Cordillera Blanca, and the Cordillera Huyhuash. Huaraz is strategically placed very near to glaciated peaks, deep glacial valleys, colorful lakes, important archeological sites such as Chavín de Huantar, various sites pertaining to the Recuay culture, and also to the living cultures of the local people.
Among the most popular activities are beautiful day hikes to lakes, viewpoints, and archeological sites. There are also multi-day treks that visit several lakes and pass though valleys right at the foot of the big peaks. There are opportunities to climb to the legendary summits of mountains such as Huascaran, Chopicalqui, Pisco, Vallunaraju, Tocllaraju, and Ishinka. There are also many excellent mountain biking routes.
Generally, the access to any of these attractions is easy. You can do it on your own if you have a private vehicle, or contract the services of one of the tour agencies that organize daily visits to many of the places mentioned above. For more ambitious multi-day treks, climbs, and adventure sports it is best to make sure you are contracting a reputable company.
Popular touristic destinations
The Huaraz region offers a variety of attractions appealing to a wide range tastes. Popular excursions range from visits to traditional tourist sites to multi-day adventures.
The most popular attractions are usually done as day trips and can be reached with a private vehicle or via an organized tour. These trips are not very physically demanding. Here are some examples: Lake Llanganuco, Lake Parón, Lake Querococha, Llaca Lake, Radian Lake, Pastoruri Mountain, the ruins of Chavín de Huantar, the Wilkawain archeological site, Honkopampa archeological site, the Huaraz Regional Museum, Cañón del Pato, etc. More information about these sites.
Adventure excursions are just as beautiful and interesting as the traditional one-day trips, but they are a little more physically demanding. They can range from day trips to multiple-day outings. These trips generally involve trekking, rock or ice climbing, mountain biking routes, mountain running, etc. and take place in the Cordillera Blanca, Cordillera Negra, or the Cordillera Huayhuash. Some of the most popular destinations are Lake Churup, Lake 69, Lake Rajucolta, Wilcacocha Lake, the Santa Cruz Trek, the world famous Cordillera Huayhuash Trek, etc. For more information see the previous blog Ten of the Best Tourist Attractions in the Huaraz Region.
Where to eat
In recent years Peruvian gastronomy has become legendary throughout the world thanks to famous chefs such as Gastón Acurio and Virgilio Martínez, who have earned international reputations.
Although the majority of the best-known restaurants are in the city of Lima, their influence has reached Huaraz and the Huaylas Valley, where there are many interesting options for regional, national, and international cuisine. You can find cafes, pizzerias, seafood restaurants, chicken restaurants, recreos campestres (weekend getaway restaurants), chocho restaurants, anticucherias, etc.
Some traditional local dishes that you should try are: pachamanka (meat and potatoes cooked in the ground), picante de cuy (guinea pig), chicharrón de chancho (fried pork) and cevichocho (a combination of ceviche and tarwi).
Here is a list of popular local restaurants:
Trivio Resto Bar Sierra Andina, Creperie Patrick, El Encuentro, Rinconcito Minero, El Tío Enrique, Chilli Heaven, Manka Fusión Artesanal, La Casa de Zarela Thai Food, Jama Restaurante, Antuco Pizza, Mi Comedia Pizzería, El Fogón, Pizza Bruno, El Taita, Recreo Pilatos, Kay Pacha Recreo Campestre, etc.
In Huaraz it is a popular Sunday tradition to visit one of the oldest surviving streets, Jose Olaya, to have lunch at one of the many food stands and restaurants that serve traditional specialties of the region. This is probably the best place to sample pachamanca, picante de cuy, llunca de gallina (traditional chicken soup), puchero (cabbage stew), papa cashki (potato soup), delicious mazamorra de calabaza (squash pudding), la chicha de jora (corn beer), and chicha morada (a purple corn non-alcoholic beverage).
Keep in mind that a well-planned trip can make all the difference in your travels. To this end, we offer our long experience and expertise to help you plan your trip to this marvelous mountain paradise in a safe and secure manner. We respect all the Covid-19 protocols for your security and our own. We look forward to meeting you. CONTACT US.