One of the best hikes in the world is the
WHY WE LOVE THIS HIKE
Huayhuash is dangerous. Hikers have died there. This is arguably the best hike in the world but is appropriate only for robust, experienced high altitude trekkers.
The greatest danger is altitude sickness. We hired horses instead of mules so we could evacuate by horse, if necessary.
We recommend the Circuit as described in Lonely Planet Trekking in the Central Andes .
If you do not have enough time for the entire Circuit, shorter alternatives are:
For the full Circuit we recommend you sign on with a reputable trekking company. They will handle logistics. No worries.
Costs you may not anticipate:
Ask politely for a receipt when a local runs up to you requesting money. Expect prices to rise steadily as more hikers find their way to the Huayhuash.
INDEPENDENT OR GUIDED?
You can hike the Huayhuash Circuit independently but we do not recommend it. You can get in serious trouble on your own. Local knowledge is essential. The seasonal herders there speak Spanish only as a second language.
The minimum support you should hire is an arriero (mule driver) & pack animals. Organize this in Huaraz. Or, if your Spanish is excellent, you could try organizing it at trailhead Llamac village.
In 2004 hikers paid US$300 / person for 12 days to and from Huaraz. They hired a horse & arriero for two hikers & carried some of their own gear. Budget a minimum of US$300-400 for this adventure if you hire your own arriero locally.
Do not pay the local agency in advance. It is customary in Huaraz to pay the arriero personally. Do not carry much cash into the mountains. Experienced Huayhuash hikers carry only about US$50 in cash, but pay their arriero an extra day for the return to Huaraz. There they withdraw cash from a bank machine and hand it to your man.
We paid our arriero half in advance. Half when we finished the trip.
Rates for English speaking guides (US$50-60 / day), mule driver (US$10 / day), and burros (US$5 / each / day) are fixed each season. Check at Cafe Andino in Huaraz for up-to-date rates. Tip 25% or so including left-over food & gear if you are happy with the service.
The fixed prices are very reasonable. Do not join a tour which charges less than the union rates. This results in resentment against hikers in the mountains.
Stay close to your guide or arriero. Even experienced hikers frequently get lost in these huge valleys.
Does organizing your own trip sound like too much trouble?
Check out the top end tours offered by some of our recommended guiding companies:
BEST TREKKING GUIDEBOOKS
For a change there is a fantastic map of a hike in Peru. And it is essential! Do not hike without this map. You can buy it at Cafe Andino in Huaraz or buy it online.
The map includes procedures for dealing with human waste and garbage.
After this site, the best links are
BEST PHOTOS & TRIP REPORTS
OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS
MOVIES, VIDEOS, DVDs