November 25, 2007

Living the mountain life in Huaraz

We had missed Huaraz on our last trip to Peru two years ago, and this time I wanted to check it out since it was highly recommended by several guidebooks. We had heard from other travelers that it wasn't worth going since it was the rainy season, and Huaraz had bad weather at the moment. I'm so glad I didn't listen to any of them. The weather was great, sun in the morning, and only about 30 minutes of rain each day in the afternoon. At least this way we could prepare for it.

Julie and I checked ourselves into Olaza's Guesthouse, where we had all the comforts of home. Actually, this was the best hotel we've stayed in to date, and it was still only $23 a night! The Olaza family are known all around town. Tito Olaza runs the guesthouse where we stayed, and his brother Julio is the most well known mountain bike guide in the area. I was lucky to get Julio as a guide all to myself, and I had a full day of incredible biking. It was some of the best single track biking I've done in a long time. We started at about 13,000 ft and descended 3,000 ft through old villages, pre Inca rock walls, and tons of sheep, cows, and barking dogs. All this while having the white peaks of the Cordillera Blanca mountains in the distance.

After 3 days in Huaraz, we rented some camping gear and headed further into the Cordillera Blanca. We went for two days and one night, and this was Julie's first overnight trek. We had done day hikes in NY State, and the Grand Canyon, but this was the first time she had carried all her own gear for two days. We chose the Quilcayhuanca trek since it was recommended by Juilo Olaza.

We hiked up a valley for about 6 hours on the first day, up to a beautiful plateau at 13,500 ft, where we could see glaciers in the distance. We had some rain setting up the tent, and got a little wet, but that was the only trouble we encountered. The next day I woke up and hiked further up the valley to a beautiful mountain lake, then we packed up camp and hiked back down the valley for 4 hours. Both directions, up and down the valley, were filled with grazing cattle, horses, sheep, and donkeys. We encountered a local farmer who told us that approximately 500 cows graze freely in the valley. I just thought I'd add this last part since a good number of my photos have cows and horses in them.

Here is a trail map of our hike.

All in all, we had a great 5 days in Huaraz and the surrounding area. I highly recommend a trip to this area any time of year. Here are my photos from biking and hiking, so you can decide for yourself.


Anonymous said...

Hey guys! This is Erin and Joe from the Isla del Sol. Nice blog. You guys take some really great pictures.

We have loaded the pictures from our time together on the island. If you want any of them, you can download the originals from our travel site:

The one of the sun and also our group shot are on there in the Isla del Sol album.

Anonymous said...

Huaraz is an amazing place, in my trip to Peru I had the oportunity to visit this city that has a lot of tourist attractions, for me the best was Chavin de Huantar because of its history. I couldn´t met this place without the help of TurPeru, the travel agency I hired. It is very good and if you want they give you the option of custom made. Its website is