Hiking Peru’s Cordillera Blanca

The Cordillera Blanca in the Andes is an unbeatable place for trekking, and it seems like National Geographic agrees with us. Recently the publication voted Huayhuash—a 10-day trail in the region—the “second most beautiful trek in the world.”

Although we didn’t have enough time to go on the Huayhuash trek, we spent three days hiking in the surrounding area, taking short bus journeys from Huaraz into the mountains.

Firstly we went on a four-hour trek to Laguna 69, which is perhaps one of the most famous day treks from Huaraz. It involves catching a two-hour bus each way and then climbing through valleys and up into the mountains until you reach the breathtaking lagoon.

The second day we went on a guided walk to Churup Lake, which is in the Huascarán National Park and situated much closer to Huaraz. It’s advisable to take a guide on the trail because one section of the path involves climbing boulders adjacent to a waterfall using steel ropes to help hoist yourself up—and this can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Although the route is tough, you’re rewarded with a beautiful vista of Churup Lake at the top, and it’s a lot less busy than Laguna 69 so you might even have it to yourself.

On our third and final day, we took a lengthly bus ride to the Pastouri glacier. Although a very short hike, at around an hour and a half, the glacier is situated at extremely high altitude—5,000m—so prepared to be out of breath. This is why we left this hike to the last day, as we were fully adjusted to the altitude by then.

The glacier itself is stunning—there’s something peaceful about staring at a wall of ice as a backdrop over a lake. But have a look at the pictures below and you can see for yourself!

Have you trekked through the Cordillera Blanca in Peru? Tell us where you went in the comments below.

TrekWorld_Peru_Laguna Ilanganuco Valley 1

Before we began our hike to Laguna 69, we were dropped off at this spot, which gave us a stunning view of another lake called Laguna Ilanganuco.

TrekWorld_Peru_Laguna Ilanganuco 2

On the way to the drop off point for the Laguna 69 hike, we stopped at Laguna Ilanganuco to take some photos of this brightly colored lake. It’s not Photoshopped—the color of the lake is actually like that.

TrekWorld_Peru_Stream on trail to Laguna 69 3

Beginning our hike to Laguna 69, we passed under the canopy of paperbark trees with reddish-brown trunks and over this gushing stream.

  TrekWorld_Peru_Cows on trail to Laguna 69 4

Local farmers use the fertile land at the beginning of the Laguna 69 trail for their cattle.

TrekWorld_Peru_Trail to Laguna 69 5

Heading into the mountains, we crossed beautiful valleys full of streams and long grass.

TrekWorld_Peru_Small lake on trail to Laguna 69 6

Although Laguna 69 steals the show, you go by a couple of other small lakes along the trail and these are also picturesque.

TrekWorld_Peru_Laguna 69 7

The stunning Laguna 69 is well worth the trek with its crystal blue waters.

TrekWorld_Peru_Laguna 69 8

You can see the mountain range of the Andes above Laguna 69 if you’re lucky enough to visit on a clear day.

TrekWorld_Peru_Pigs on hiking trail 9

On the way to Laguna Churup we passed through small villages where homeowners kept their pigs tethered to the outsides of their homes.

TrekWorld_Peru_Climbing to Laguna Churup 10

The reason why you need a guide on the Laguna Churup trail is because you have to navigate a steep climb up boulders adjacent to a waterfall.

TrekWorld_Peru_Laguna Churup 11

Laguna Churup is remote, peaceful and beautiful.

TrekWorld_Peru_Laguna Churup 12

Although a more difficult hike than the trail to Laguna 69, Laguna Churup is certainly worth the journey.

TrekWorld_Peru_Path to the Pastoruri glacier 13

The path to the Pastorouri Glacier is paved, making the route easy—although the 5,000m altitude might get to you.

TrekWorld_Peru_Pastoruri glacier 14

Bit by bit, the Pastorouri Glacier is breaking off and falling down into the lake below.

TrekWorld_Peru_Pastoruri glacier 15

The Pastorouri Glacier casts beautiful reflections onto the lake underneath it.

Carmen Allan-Petale lives a nomadic life, continuously journeying with her husband Dave. They document their travels on their travel blog, Double-Barrelled Travel, which specialises in video content. They’ve just returned from the Galapagos and plan to travel up through Central America to Mexico by December. You can find details of their adventures and travel tips on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+.


  1. It most certainly is breathtaking. Everywhere you look, you are reminded how wonderful nature has made Cordillera Blanca. I would love to take a trek there in the future.

    Thank you for the amazing pictures.

  2. Peru is my ultimate dream destination – I’ve never explored the possibility of seeing this area (I am your typical ‘hike the Inca Trail’ wannabe) but I might have to change my mind! These photos are stunning, although I feel like I’d need to do some training first! Thanks for sharing!

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