With three days in Huaraz, you can visit ancient ruins, explore a rare tropical glacier, and hike to a high-altitude lake with spectacular views. To adjust to the altitude, maximize your time by working your way up to a challenging hike on the final day. Here’s how to plan your visit.
Day 1: Visit Pastoruri Glacier
Don’t miss the chance to explore the rare tropical Pastoruri Glacier, at 17,225 feet (5,250 meters) above sea level, among the most accessible and scenic in the Cordillera Blanca. Since transport to the glacier is limited, most visitors opt for a guided tour. Here, you’ll see ice melting into a chilly lake, big views of rugged peaks, and some of the unique plants that grow at high altitudes in Huascarán National Park. Since visiting the glacier doesn’t require any strenuous hiking, it’s a good start to your time at altitude.
Day 2: Explore Chavín de Huántar
Head to Chavín de Huántar to spend your second day learning about the area’s history. A series of plazas and stone structures set in a scenic valley, Chavín de Huántar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that archeologists believe was used as a gathering place for religious ceremonies. After exploring the site, head to the Chavin National Museum, where key finds from the archaeological site are on display. You’ll see colorful ceramics, sculptures, and the cabezas clavas, a series of stones that once adorned Chavín’s walls and are thought to depict a shaman’s transformation into a sacred animal.
Day 3: Hike to Lake 69
Get an early start for the strenuous walk to Lake 69, whose bright-blue water and mountain setting are among the scenic highlights of the Cordillera Blanca. To reach the trailhead on your own, take a bus to Yungay then transfer to a collectivo minivan into Huascarán National Park. Many hikers opt for the convenience of a tour from Huaraz, which cuts time in transit and isn’t much more expensive than coordinating a series of rides. Most groups take 3.5 hours to reach the lake from the trailhead and an additional 2 hours for the return trip; consider a private tour if you’d rather set your own pace. All that climbing pays off in spectacular views once you reach Lake 69, which is the perfect place for a well-earned picnic by the water. Watch for Huascarán peak, Peru’s highest mountain, on the ride back to Huaraz.