THE GATE TO THE ANDES: HUARAZ, PERU
Snow-capped mountains and great treks in Huaraz, Peru
It’s an incredible mountain range: With a length of 7,500 kilometers the Andes Mountains are the longest continental mountain range in the world and attract millions of travelers every year. One of the most beautiful parts of the Andes is the famous Cordillera Blanca in Peru with the second highest mountain of the Andes, Mt. Huascarán (6,768m).
The perfect place to start a trip to the beautiful Cordillera Blanca is Huaraz in Peru, a town with 120,000 inhabitants and located in the Callejon de Huaylas Valley in an altitude of 3,052 meters. It doesn’t matter what you want to do, in the Cordillera Blanca everything is possible: climbing, hiking and snowboarding. The impressive glaciers and mountains of the Cordillera Blanca are a magnet for nature and sports lovers alike.
When we arrived in Huaraz in Peru we were surprised about its size. It’s definitely not a romantic mountain village. Of course Huaraz has become a very touristy place where tour operators, restaurants, hotels, hostels and bars dominate the main streets. However the place still keeps a Peruvian charm and we felt very comfortable in Huaraz.
Plaza de Armas with the Cathedral
The busiest part in Huaraz is along the Avenida Luzuriaga. Here you find maaannnyy restaurants, bars, agencies and hostels. Restaurants offer dishes for every taste… Peruvian, Italian, American, Swiss. Plaza de Armas with the cathedral is also located on this avenue. When you look for souvenirs or Alpaca products you are also right here.
Around Avenida José de la Mar you find some night clubs where it gets very busy especially on Friday and Saturday night.
Panorama of Huaraz taken from our hostel
From almost everywhere in the center you can see the snow-capped mountains on the horizon which gives the city a special atmosphere.
Never forget to put on sunscreen or to wear a hat and sunglasses because the sun is very strong in this altitude. Even on a cloudy day you have to be careful. Don’t forget you are in an altitude of over 3,000 meters.
The Central Market
Stand seeling meat
Just 5 walking minutes from the main street Avenida Luzuriaga you find the Huaraz’s Mercado Central. In front of the market building you are welcomed by many women in traditional clothes selling chicken, herbs and corn. Inside the building you find everything… fruits and vegetables, meat, clothes, bags, flowers and much more. However you won’t find any souvenirs. This is still a “local” market which makes it worth seeing it even more.
Huaraz from above – Lookout El Pinar
Little golf ball BoB and I enjoying the view of Huaraz
For a great view of whole Huaraz in Peru, the lookout El Pinar is perfect. Actually there are two so called “Miradores” in Huaraz but we do not recommend to visit El Mirador Rataquenua. According to our hostel’s host and information on the internet the hill up to Rataquenua is not the safest one. The taxi brings you to a big cross from where you have to walk the last part up to the top. Don’t risk to get mugged and enjoy a peaceful walk up to El Mirador El Pinar instead.
From the center of Huaraz go to the East to Avenida Confraternidad Internacional Este. Here turn left and follow the street and until the corner of Avenida Manco Capac where you turn right. This street will guide you up the hill to El Pinar. It is paved and there is hardly any traffic as it leads to a luxury living community. Very soon you will enjoy the first great views of whole Huaraz and the snow-capped mountains.
Where to sleep?
Perfect relexation in the sun chairs
As you can imagine there are numerous hostels and hotels in Huaraz for the smaller and bigger wallet. We can highly recommend the Hostal Alpes Huaraz. It is not directly located in the center but it’s is only 7 walking minutes to the main street. The hostel offers 6 bed dorms with an own bathroom starting from US$8 per person. Double rooms with a private bathroom start from US$13 per person. The prices include breakfast and free Wi-Fi.
You can have a delicious drink at the cozy hostel’s bar or read a book in one of the sun chairs on the outside terrace. From the roof-top terrace you enjoy a fantastic view of Huaraz and the snow-capped mountains. On sunny days you can even see Peru’s highest mountain Huascarán. The kitchen is small but it’s okay for cooking some pasta.
The hostel offers a variety of tours and treks e.g. the famous Laguna 69. We also booked our Santa Cruz Trek with the hostel and were very satisfied. The hostel also offers free storage for your luggage when you go on a trek.
How to get there & away
There are several bus companies going to Huaraz. We came from Trujillo and took a night bus by Movil Tours. It was very modern and we felt very safe. Usually we try to avoid night busses however there are no busses during the day from Trujillo. The ticket costs about US$17 per person (2nd class).
Most of the travelers arrive from Lima. Here you can chose between day and night busses. The trip takes 7 hours and costs about US$12 per person (2nd class) with Movil Tours. The high-quality bus company Cruz del Sur sells tickets for Lima to Huaraz starting from US$23 per person (2nd class). We were very happy with Movil Tours and can highly recommend them.
When you are in Peru and you want to see the Andes then Huaraz MUST be on your list!
If you have any questions about Huaraz, just leave a message below and I will be more than happy to help you with planning your stay in the Cordillera Blanca.
Thanks for reading and safe travels!