You'll travel north today for a spectacular journey into the high Andes. Rising into the second highest mountain range in the world, you'll pass fertile fields of sugarcane. The climb continues up dry hills, eventually turning into the dense puna grasslands. At Conococha Pass (13,385 feet) you'll turn north and descend into a world of towering white mountains and surreal vistas.
The unsurpassed scenic beauty of the Santa Valley (Callejon de Huaylas in the indigenous Quechua language) separates the soaring Cordillera Negra and Cordillera Blanca mountains. Huaraz makes a perfect base to explore this region's stunning diversity.
Visit one of the nearby indigenous villages and try your bargaining skills in one of the colorful local markets. Take a half-day hike in the Cordillera Negra or visit the pre-Inca ruins of Chavín de Huantar. There's also Class III rafting down the Rio Santa. The days are yours to enjoy the panoramic vistas and unique cultural treasures of the region.
You set off early this morning by minibus down the valley passing through several small villages before you arrive to Caraz . From here you descend out of the valley towards the village of Cashapampa (9500 ft) where you leave your motorized transportation behind you! Join your trekking team, with your porters, mules and cook who join you as you begin the climb. Follow a river gorge hiking approximately 6.5 miles in the first 4-5 hours and make your first camp in the meadow called Llamacorral (12,600 ft). Enjoy time to rest here and enjoy a refreshing hot drink while admiring the towering mountains that surround you, including the snowy peak of Taulliraj. Make sure to keep warm, as the minimum temperatures can drop to the 30's F!
Today you climb further, being rewarded by increasingly spectacular views of the glaciated peaks on both sides. Arrive to a marshy floodplain and a perfect lunch stop next to the two lakes of Lagunas Chica and Grande. Upon hiking further, you see Alpamayo on the left, a pyramid shaped peak long cherished by climbers and hikes with its snow fluted slopes. Your camp tonight is at Taullipampa (13,800 ft) which is some 7.5 miles beyond your starting point this morning. The peaks of Quitaraju, Rinrihirca, Paria, and Artesonraju form a huge arena surrounding your campsite, and lull you to sleep with their majestic presence! Keep warm tonight, as temperatures could drop to the mid 20's F when you are this high!
Today you will conquer the high pass of Punta Union at (15,585 ft), which is only a few feet lower than the highest mountain in all of western Europe! This morning you tackle the steep and rigorous climb to the pass in a couple of hours, then stop to enjoy possibly the best panoramic view in all of Peru. Taulliraju is in full view with the turquoise glacial Lake Taullicocha resting at its feet below. The mountains of Santa Cruz, Chacraraju, Huandoy and Huascaran surround you as well, taking your already shortened breath away! Enjoy your reward for a while before descending down the steep trail into the Quebrada Huaripampa, a long valley of meadows with scattered small lakes. Walk about 5.5 miles and descend 3200 ft, then continue along the river and arrive to Laguna Morococha. Camp at Paria (12,600 ft) this evening, with views of Chacraraju, Paria and Piramide tonight.
Today you hike approximately 4 miles and leave the valley at Vaquería. Descend about 1100 ft to the bridge and then walk uphill for a nice 800 ft to your next camping spot at the feet of Yanapaccha and Copicalqui peaks. Enjoy the rest of the day free to rest up from your hike thus far!
Today is free for you to enjoy an optional hike up to the pass at Portachuelo de Llanganuco (15,600 ft) for outstanding views of the peaks of Huascaran, Huandoy, Chopicalqui, Chacraraju and Pisco and Llanganuco lakes. Head back to the same campsite this evening.
You hike back into the wilderness today, heading deeper into the valley on the way to small lakes ringing with the sound of the calving icebergs.
Approach the flanks of the awesome peak of Mount Contrahierbas, decorated with waterfalls hanging over black granite cliffs which seem to balance out the icy blanket that encompasses the peak.
Today you you will climb to the highest pass of your trek Punta Yananacu (15,900 ft). The outlines of Chopicalqui and Huascaran dominate the view to the West.
The rocks which forms the pass were destroyed some years ago so our mules split to take another road to make a large loop and meet us again on the other side of the valley. We descend to the camp at Ocshapampa which is set amid the sharp spires of Mount Ulta, Hualcan and Copa to the South, while to the East and North Contrahierbas looms large.
A short walk brings you to your welcome vehicle, and you drive 3 hours back to Huaraz over meadows and eucalyptus forest. Enjoy an optional well-deserved soak in the nearby hot springs today and rest your muscles from your adventure!
Return to Lima today in time for your departure flight this evening.