Huaraz boasts the best landscapes in Peru due to the many stunning snowy mountains of the Cordillera Blanca, and is known as the Peruvian Switzerland. Every year the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash are visited by tourists from all around the world, who come to practice Extreme Sports in the snowy mountains. Chavin the Huantar - an archaeological complex that belongs to one of the first cultures in America, Chavin - also attracts many visitors.
Huaraz is a city in the Ancash department. Here you can see the snowy mountain Huascaran called “The Roof of Peru”, this is the highest point of Peru, with 6768 meters at its highest peak. At the bottom of this impotent mountain you can find the Laguna Llanganuco which with its beautiful, shiny, light blue colour makes you feel like you’re in heaven. There are so many great things to do in Huaraz, such as trekking the Cordillera Huayhuash and visiting Chavin de Huantar.
This beautiful city had a huge catastrophe, an earthquake in 1970 which destroyed 95% of the city and caused thousands of deaths. Due to all the international collaboration that Huaraz got to help all the victims, it received the name of International Friendship Capital. After this event the city didn’t totally recover, but it’s still a great place to visit. Below is our Huaraz travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
VISIT CHAVIN DE HUANTAR – This is an archaeological site which was the administrative and religious center of one of the first pre-Inca cultures in America, Chavin. Here you'll see ancient ruins and artifacts, and there are underground tunnels too! The drive from Huaraz takes 2-3 hours, and the views are spectacular. Make sure to have hired a local English-speaking guide for your visit, who can explain all the interesting details to you. It's best to go in the early morning before it gets busy.
ENJOY LAGUNA LLANGANUCO – Inside the Huascaran National Park surrounded by the snowy mountains Huascaran, Huandoy, Pisco and Yanapaccha we will find this dreamy place. Take a picnic and enjoy the peacefulness.
EXPLORE LAGUNA 69 – Walk for around 3 hours to find this impressive laguna, with a magical turquoise color and some of the best views that you could ever see. On the way uphill you'll see rivers, waterfalls, and lakes, and pass through hike peaks. This hike costs around 50 soles with a tour. (Important: before attempting this hike it's advisable to have acclimatized to the altitude.)
TREK THE CORDILLERA HUAYHUASH – Take part in one of the 10 most beautiful treks in the world, camping around the Laguna Jahuacocha at the bottom of the Yerupaja, which is the second highest peak of Peru.
TAKE THE SANTA CRUZ TREK – One of the most popular treks in the Cordillera. Enjoy the view of the snowiest mountain in the Cordillera Blanca, such as the Almapayo, which was declared by the magazine Alpinismus (May 1966) as, "The Most Beautiful Mountain of the World” during the Scenic Photography Contest of Münich in 1966.
RAFTING ON THE SANTA RIVER – Take some free time off trekking and visiting archaeological sites to practice this exciting sport. The difficulty of the rafting varies between II and IV, with options for different levels.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
Chavin de Huantar.
Huaraz has a lot of options for great food. Most of the restaurants are around the centre, but the best ones are on the road, between Huaraz and Carhuaz. The most popular dish is called Pachamanca, this traditional dish is a mix of beef, chicken, lamb, beans, potato and sweet potato, they cook them all together in a hole that they made underground covered with leaves, rocks and earth. It has a unique and delicious flavour!
Check out Cafe Andino (Lucar y Torre 530) - here you can find a real mix of food, including coffee, sandwiches, and typical Peruvian fare. Come here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and enjoy the nice view of the mountains whilst you eat.
Most of the clubs and pubs are around the centre. The most popular one is El Tambo (Jr Jose de la Mar), which is a very nice place to relax and enjoy some local drinks after a hard day walking around.
Huaraz has a temperate tropical climate: sunny and dry during the day and cold at night. The temperature throughout the year ranges between 11 - 17 degrees Celsius, with a maximum temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. The dry season, known as the "Andean summer" ranges from April to November. The rainy season lasts from December to March, with rainfall between 500 and 1000 mm.
If you’re coming from Lima, it takes 8 hours by bus. There are also buses between Huaraz and Trujillo (9 hours), and Huaraz and Chimbote (7 hours).
By plane it takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. The airport is at Anta town: from there to Huaraz it is 21 km (a 45 minute journey), and you will have to take another form of transport. This could be a taxi (approximately 25 soles), or a minibus (2.5 soles).
The main area is around the center of Huaraz city where most of the hostels and hotels are located, as are most of the travel agencies. Try Akilpo Hostal (Av. Raimondi 510) for a family-run, honest place. The owners are very informative, and are more than happy to help with organizing hikes or with whatever you need. The rooms are clean and comfy, the kitchen is spacious and well-equipped, and the hostel is located next to the main market in Huaraz - convenient for stocking up on food before your hike!
Don’t walk too fast and relax on your first day because you may be affected by altitude sickness. Stay hydrated and well nourished. You can also try chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea. Soroche (Diamox) pills are available to buy at any pharmacy, which help prevent altitude sickness.