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.
Set off this morning for Yungay and then drive towards the Quebrada Llanganuco and the beautiful lakes. Cross the Portachuelo Pass at 4767m with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, including Mount Huascarán, highest point in Peru at 6768m, then descend to Vaqueria, where will meet our mule drivers and their pack animals. Start the trek and head for Huaripampa valley to reach our first campsite at Paria. (Today's hike is 10km, 4-5 hours)
The day breaks with Mount Taulliraju silhouetted in the background, and it gets closer as we walk uphill to the Punta Union Pass at 4750m. Once we reach the pass, enjoy the view with Alpamayo, Artesonraju, Pucahirca and Taulliraju Mountains. Descend to reach our campsite at Taullipampa. (Today's hike is 12km, 5-6 hours)
Start the day with a gently walk to Quebrada Arhuaycocha before climbing into this valley to reach the famous base camp at the feet of giant snow peaks. (Today's hike is shorter at 3km, 2-3 hours)
The trail will gradually leave the mountains to connect with the Santa Cruz Valley and its primary forest. Walk along the shores of Jatun and Ichic Cocha Lakes and camp at Llamacorral. (Today's hike is 13km, 4-5 hours)
The beautiful Santa Cruz valley now will become a narrow passageway across the mountains, with waterfalls, lush forest, and plenty of water birds. Upon arrival to Cashapampa, our vehicle will take us to Caraz and then Huaraz.
Return to Lima to catch your red-eye flight, or do an extension to the Amazon or Machu Picchu! If you haven't seen Machu Picchu already, this extension is a must!