Huaraz stands tall at 3100m; travellers from Lima might need a day or two to acclimatize to the change in atmosphere. July is a good time to visit the region; the temperature is perfect for walking and the sky is free from clouds and rain. It’s also a good time as the July period has many of Peru’s annual event celebration dates. The town puts on a tremendous night of entertainment each year for most of the days, featuring live music and more. Well worth a look if you are in the region.
A town of about 100,000; it blends a mix of modern and native culture. The town has many markets and shops catering to tourist needs and local needs. The food markets are especially interesting and are a great starting point for getting supplies for expeditions. Be sure to shop about before purchasing/hiring (especially for mountaineering gear) as often a better price can be found elsewhere with a bit of bargaining.
The town has many places offering cheap internet access; although a bit slow, the connection is usually reliable. The town has a big post office and a few banks. Huaraz also has a mix of old and new restaurants offering a variety of dishes. Cuy (guinea pig) is a regional dish; perhaps something to say one has tried but not something to make a diet of! There are a few night clubs and many bars open late.
Common sense would advise people not to travel alone at night, but one feels safe in the city where the locals were very willing to help out where possible. Like many places in Peru, it’s not wise to take much money with you at any one time if you can possibly avoid it.
- Trekking – The region is a trekkers paradise; it features breath taking views and an escape from the hive of people seen in other famed trekking locations like the Inca trail. Although one could do it on ones own, it’s advisable to get a guide and run it through a specialist company.
- Explore Huascarán National Park: Visit nearby Laguna Churup, Laguna 69, Laguna Parón or complete the challenging, multi-day Santa Cruz Trek.
- A homestay in Vicos or Humacchuco, When you are interested in some alternative form of spending your trip in the region of Huaraz it is a very good idea to do a homestay in Vicos or Humacchuco. Vicos (1 hour from Huaraz) is an authentic rural community, which gives visitors the opportunity to learn about its Andean culture, livingin harmony with its environment. Vicos has seven guest houses next to the houses of host families who will assist you during all the activities. Possible activities are; helping the family with theirdaily activities like baking bread, harvesting honey, fishing or grazing with the animals, helping the family on their farming lands, visiting local craftsman, hiking through the fields while visiting the ruins of the Huari and Recuay while learning about medicinal plants, or hiking for a full day to high-altitude lakes and glaciers and enjoying the views with the Cordillera Blanca at the background. Humacchuco is another community which is a little bit farther away (2 hours from Huaraz). Humacchuco has six guest houses next to the houses of host families like in Vicos. Also here it is possible to help the families with their daily activities and learn about their culture. Besides this Humacchuco also offers wonderful hikings to Lake Llanganuco, Lake 69, Maria Joséfa and a hike to the valley of Huaytapallana.
- Visit parks and squares, When the weather is good visit one of the nice squares (Plaza de Armas, Plaza de Belen) or parks (Park at Iglesia San Francisco). Just sit down, enjoy the nice weather with a good book or just to watch people.
- Laguna Wilcacocha, the ease of access makes this a popular acclimatization hike. The laguna is very small, but there are good views of the Cordillera Blanca range. 1½-2 hr of walking to the lake, 1 hr to get down.
- Laguna Antacocha. Same trip as laguna Wilcacocha, but a bit further.
- Mirador de Rataquena. A 45 min walk to a lookout above the city. The trail starts near the cemetery and continues past the mirador.
- Go to the foot of Huascaran, the biggest mountain in Peru, 6768 m.
- Go to the Therms of Monterrey, directly in combi from Fitzcarrald street. Or walk from Wilkawain’s ruins, by the football place, go up the steps then follow straight, 1½ hr. You have a nice view on Huascaran. The entrance to the therms is S/3.50, for the public swimming pool or private bathtub. Warm!
3 – 21 Days: Take day trips to some local viewpoints or lagunas; also plan for a mountain expedition for an everlasting memory of the Cordillera Blanca or Huayhuash.