World → South AmericaCentral Andes → Peru → Alpamayo

One of the best hikes in the world


Hikes in this area are also known as:

  • Alpamayo Circuit
  • Alpamayo and Santa Cruz
  • Quebrada Los Cedros
  • Cedros Alpamayo

5,947m (19,511ft) Alpamayo was declared “World’s Most Beautiful Mountain” by an international survey led by former climber Tonni Hiebler in May 1966.

Note: This page is a stub. We were last there in 2005. Things have changed. You can recommend improvements by leaving recommendations or links in the comments on this page. Our editors will consider them. Thanks for your help!


  • White mountains (Cordillera Blanca) in Peru
  • our favourite hike in the Cordillera Blanca. It’s better and more challenging than the Santa Cruz trek.
  • far fewer trekkers than on Santa Cruz as the logistics of getting in and out are tricky
  • the jumping off point is Huaraz, one of our top 10 hiking towns in the world
  • passes 4600 – 4900m
  • you can do this adventure independently or hire a guide
  • two main routes:
    1. Alpamayo Base Camp – 90km (56mi) Cholin – Pomabamba
    2. Alpamayo Circuit – 140+km (87+mi )

Why We Like This Hike

  • PERU, all things considered, just might offer the best alpine hiking in the world
  • safe & gorgeous hiking in the world’s highest mountain range outside of Asia
  • bandits have not been a problem here
  • fantastic glacier views
  • highest mountain in Peru, Huascarán at 6,768 meters (22,200 feet)
  • remote, few trekkers
  • good chance to meet the indigenous Quechua people
  • huge, tranquil valley vistas
  • excellent weather May to September
  • it’s high and evacuation is difficult. Before starting, be sure you are acclimatized to altitude
  • hot springs at Pompabamba
  • mountain road trip out, the Portachuelo de Llanganuco, is one of the most exciting, extreme roads anywhere.
  • travel in Peru is very inexpensive


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
  • no official campsites, no toilets
  • there are a few hiking signposts, but don’t count on them for navigation
  • biting insects can be an irritation at lower elevations
  • speak conversational Spanish if you want to do the trek unguided

Alpamayo can be dangerous. Do the excellent Santa Cruz trek instead if you are not prepared to accept the risks.


Trekking Permit (Turismo Aventura) for Huascarán National Park costs some amount of money. Due to ineffective Park management there are many questions you won’t have answered until you get to Huaraz. Check at Cafe Andino in town for recent updates from hikers recently returned from the mountains.

organizing at Cafe Andino


There are many possible itineraries close to Alpamayo. You will be tempted to take off up unknown valleys.

We recommend the two main routes:

  1. Alpamayo Base Camp – 90km (56mi) Cholin – Pomabamba
  2. Alpamayo Circuit – 140+km (87+mi )

The Circuit combines Alpamayo Base Camp with Santa Cruz. (Most trekkers are better off doing Santa Cruz 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 did the itinerary in Lonely Planet Trekking in the Central Andes .

We stayed overnight in Caraz, rather than Huaraz, in order to get an earlier start.

Huaraz has an excellent public market & gear shops for outfitting your trip. Caraz is not a bad alternative.

We hired a car to get from from Caraz to the trailhead (2-3hrs) in the tiny town of Cholin (Hualcayan). It’s possible to catch a shared taxi (1-2hrs) from Caraz to alternate start at Cashapampa.

The climb up from Cholin (Hualcayan) is exhausting. We really felt the altitude & even considered turning back. 😦

… At the finish, a week later, we took a bus out from Pomabamba, a remote mountain town, back to civilization. This stunning road trip, crossing the Andes, takes a full day.

Here’s another itinerary recommended by Cordillera Blanca:

1: Huaraz 3250m – Llanganuco – Portachuelo 4767m – Vaqueria – Paria 3800m.

Day 2: Paria – Punta Unión pass 4750m – Tuctu 4200m.

alpamayo_trek_mapDay 3: Tuctu – Alto Pukahirka pass 4650m – Huecrococha lake 3950m.

Day 4: Huecrococha – Tupa Tupa pass 4400m – Jankapampa 3700m

Day 5: Jankapampa – Janajanka pass 4500m – Huillca 4200m.

Day 6: Huilcca – Mesapata 4600m – Kara Kara pass 4830 – Jancarurish 4200m

Day 7: Jancarurish, day off

Day 8: Jancarurish – Ventuna 4770m – Osoruri 4500m

Day 9: Osoruri – Llampapashillun 4850 – Wishcash 4350m

Day 10: Wihscash – Hualcayan 3250m – Huaraz

our 1st night campsite

Trekking Guides

The easiest and safest way to do Alpamayo is with an adventure travel company:

These companies have been (somewhat) stable while many other have come and gone. Leave a REPLY if you have personal endorsement of any others.

Tip 25% or so including left-over food & gear if you are happy with the service.


If you sign on with a trekking company, they will arrange your logistics. No worries.

This section is geared for independent hikers.

In Huaraz check the local information. Get recent updates at Cafe Andino and from some of the gear shops.

Next, decide on where you will start. And where you plan to exit.

Carry plenty of food and fuel, in case of bad weather. There are people in the mountains, but don’t rely on them for help. Be completely self-sufficient. Alpamayo valleys are remote and rugged.

our 1st view of Alpamayo

Local Information

  • South American Explorers Lima  is your first and best source of information in advance of traveling to Huaraz (South American Explorers was closed in 2017. We are not sure whether they will ever reopen.)
  • Cafe Andino and other gringo restaurants in Huaraz will be even better

Best Trekking Guidebooks

Best Travel Guidebooks

Best Maps

Best Web Pages


Best Trip Reports


 Quechua kids we met on Alpamayo
Quechua kids we met on Alpamayo


12 days trekking Alpamayo. Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Note: This page is a stub. Questions? Suggestions? Leave a REPLY on this page. Our editors will reply.

11 Replies to “Alpamayo”

  1. Hi.
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    please kindly include the web site and recomend us as part of your cooperation with charity travel and local people
    thanks in advance

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