One of the best hikes in the world is
Alpamayo Base Camp
Hikes in this area are also known as:
- Alpamayo Circuit
- Alpamayo and Santa Cruz
- Quebrada Los Cedros
- Cedros Alpamayo
Trek round Alpamayo, known to mountaineers as one of the most beautiful peaks in the world. This is our favourite hike in the Cordillera Blanca (White Mountains), arguably the best hiking destination in the world.
You won't see many hikers there as the logistics of getting in and out are challenging.
Current status of still evolving proposed new regulations for hikers: "if people choose to hire a guide, it must be a professional guide - not a pirate guide, and the environment must be respected, and all mountain workers (and agencies) WILL pay tax" .
WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE
- PERU, all things considered, offers the best alpine hiking in the world
- perhaps the best alpine weather during the dry season May to September
- fantastic glacier views
- it's remote, few trekkers
- huge & tranquil valley vistas
- it's much more difficult than nearby, more popular, Santa Cruz
- good chance to meet the indigenous Quechua people
- hotsprings at Pompabamba
- mountain road trip out, the Portachuelo de Llanganuco, is one of the most exciting, extreme roads anywhere.
- bandits have not been a problem here
- travel in Peru for as little as US$20 / day
By the way, if you like Alpamayo, you will definitely like the Ausangate Trek in southern Peru.
Alpamayo is recommended for confident, self-sufficient hikers experienced at high altitude. If you tolerate cold & altitude symptoms, the trails themselves are little trouble. Some route finding is necessary. Guidebook essential.
- altitude sickness is a severe risk!
- huge elevation gain from Cholin (Hualcayan)
- many passes 4600 - 4900m
- evacuation is almost impossible
- at least 8 climbers were killed by avalanche on Alpamayo in 2003. (It is safer to hike than climb.)
- biting insects can be an irritation at lower elevations
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If you sign on with a trekking company, they will arrange your logistics. No worries.
This logistics section is geared for independent hikers.
There are many possible itineraries close to Alpamayo. You will be tempted to take off up unknown valleys.
We recommend the two main routes:
- Alpamayo Base Camp - 90km (56mi) Cholin - Pomabamba
- Alpamayo Circuit - 140+km (87+mi )
The Circuit combines Alpamayo Base Camp with Santa Cruz. (Most trekkers are better off doing those two hikes separately.)
The shorter Alpamayo Base Camp trek still calls for 6-7 nights in the tent due to altitude, short hiking days and the distraction of gorgeous mountain scenery. We recommend the itinerary in Lonely Planet Trekking in the Central Andes .
- start in trekker heaven, Huaraz, Peru
- many hikers take a comfortable bus Lima to Huaraz (8-10 hours)
- new alternatively you can now fly to Huaraz on LC Busre
- set-off for your trek from either Huaraz or Caraz, both excellent mountain town jumping off points
- Huaraz has an excellent public market & gear shops for outfitting your trip.
- hire a personal taxi (2-3hrs) from Caraz to the trailhead in the tiny town of Cholin (Hualcayan) ..., or
- shared taxi (1-2hrs) from Caraz to alternate start at Cashapampa
- at the finish, a week later, bus out from Pomabamba, a remote mountain town, back to civilization. This stunning road trip, crossing the Andes, takes a full day.
Alpamayo can be dangerous. Do the excellent Santa Cruz Trek instead if you are not prepared to accept the risks.
- best months are the May to September dry season
- shoulder season hikes might be possible, weather permitting
- no campsites nor toilets on the Alpamayo Base Camp route but some signs have been posted
- Trekking Permit (Turismo Aventura) for Huascarán National Park costs about US$20 / person. This controversial fee & the ineffective Park management are under review. Drastic changes may be coming.
- no other restrictions are in place yet
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INDEPENDENT OR GUIDED?
Safest for sure is to sign on with a trekking company:
Most hikers & climbers hire at least an arriero (mule driver) & pack animals to get them up to altitude. It is easy & inexpensive to organize in Huaraz or Caraz.
If you are looking only for a guide and/or pack animals for Alpamayo:
We've hiked Alpamayo independently, carrying our own packs. The climb up from Cholin (Hualcayan) is exhausting. We really felt the altitude & even considered turning back.
Hire your support for the first day or two or for the entire trip. Remember you need to pay for the travel day(s) returning home.
Rates are fixed each year and will likely go up:
- Guide - US$50 / day
- Cook - US$23 / day
- Mule driver - US$10 / day
- Food - US$10 / person / day
- Pack animal - US$5 / day
Independent hikers who do not hire pack animals should budget (minimum):
- public transport from Huaraz > Caraz = US$3 / person
- private taxi from Caraz > Cholin (Hualcayan) US$10-15 / person
- bus out from Pomabamba > Yungay = US$3 / person
- transport out from Yungay > Huaraz = US$1 / person.
- Trekking Permit = US$20 / person (65 soles)
- tenting = free
- rental gear, if needed, in Huaraz or Caraz
Do not pay any other fees on this trek unless you are given a receipt.
BEST TREKKING GUIDEBOOKS
- Alpenvereinskarte, Cordilleras Blanca Nord Peru. Purchase it in Huaraz.
After this site, the best links are
For the general region:
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