Published on March 9th, 2012 | by admin
Travel Adventures in Peru’s Huascarán National Park
Largely thanks to the overwhelming importance of Machu Picchu and the booming popularity of tourism in southern Peru, the northern region of this large country is much less visited.
However, those traveling to Peru seeking the best hiking and trekking routes in pristine wilderness will not want to miss the Huascarán National Park, located in the Cordillera Blanca (White Range) mountains near the northern city of Huaraz.
Taking its name from the Huascarán, Peru’s highest mountain, the park has been declared a World Heritage Site and a place of Natural Heritage of Humanity in recognition of its huge ecological wealth, the diversity of its habitats, and the range of native fauna and flora.
Along the many trails leading through the national park, intrepid explorers are likely to encounter crystal lakes fed by glacial streams surrounded by vast tundra steppes and dominated by the regal magnificence of the mountains themselves, and their snowy peaks which gave the range its name.
Organized treks can be arranged with professional guides, or individual day hikes are possible from the various mountain lodges located outside the park.
The starting destination for exploring the park is the city of Huaraz, located about 400 km from Lima and accessible by an eight-hour bus ride.
From here, hiking and climbing tours can be arranged, gear can be rented and transportation to trailheads can be secured. There are day hikes available as well as treks of up to ten days or longer. It’s a good idea to spend some time around Huaraz to acclimate to the altitude before setting out on a longer trek. Mountain biking, rafting and skiing are also possible activities.
The park is an ideal place for mountain climbing and, unlike many such destinations, there are tours for all levels of expertise, from beginners to highly experienced. That being said, there are some glaciers that will only be accessible by those with experience and skill.
Of the large number of possible trails, one of the most popular is the Santa Cruz, which is usually done in four to five days. This trek is easy to moderate in difficulty and, due to its popularity, there are regular campsites and pit-style toilets along the way. This offers some of the best views of snowy mountains, beautiful pastures and lakes of an indescribable turquoise blue.
Those wanting something a bit more challenging can consider the Los Cedros Trek which will typically take about ten days. Due to the length and somewhat greater level of difficulty, this trail is not as highly traveled, allowing you to have the beauty of the park practically to yourself.
It’s generally best to plan travel here during the dry season, from May through September. Keep in mind that, although trails may not be difficult in terms of terrain, the altitude can affect even the most seasoned trekker. It is impossible to predict how difficult acclimating will be for any individual, regardless of age, health or fitness. This is one reason that it can be helpful to use a tour agency so that there is an experienced guide on hand to recognize altitude sickness and be able to deal with it.
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