After spending a full day resting/researching/going around the center of Huaraz, we believed we were both ready to tackle our first dayhike. We chose Laguna Churup for our acclimatisation dayhike mainly for its:
- distance: relatively closer to Huaraz therefore easier to plan; and
- lower altitude: Laguna Churup is 4,450m compared to Laguna 69’s 4,600m (okay those 150m count a lot haha). I was unsure if my head could handle 4,600m seeing as I had trouble already the moment we arrived in Huaraz.
If you’re a budget traveler like us, there’s absolutely no need to join agency tours as it’s pretty easy to commute to and from Laguna Churup. All you need to do is research well. So we (and by we it’s mostly me, Mariela ;)) did our homework and are paying it forward by putting this DIY guide to Laguna Churup dayhike for future travellers’ reference.
How to commute to Laguna Churup
When in Huaraz, expect your mornings to start at either 4:30 or 5:00. Of the 3 hikes that we did in Cordillera Blanca, we always started at 4:30 am. This is mainly because we wanted to catch the earliest possible collectivo to our destination so we could catch the last, and sometimes, only collectivo going back to Huaraz.
From our hostel, Monkey Wasi, it’s about 10-15 minutes leisure walk going to the collectivo terminal located a few steps away from the corner of Gamara and Raymondi streets, just look for the gas station. I think we got there too early tho. We were the first passengers, the next couple of passengers showed up maybe 45 minutes after us (so much for waking up too early). But as the driver promised, we left at 7:30 in the morning. However, we didn’t mind waiting because the collectivo dropped us off in front of the park’s entrance! Some collectivos only go as far as Llupa, and from Llupa to Pitec hikers have to go by foot which could take about 30-40 minutes.
It was quite gloomy when we left Huaraz so it was really nice to see the sun as we approached Pitec. The view of the Huaraz valley below was also lovely.
We purchased a 21-day boleto because we would be doing multi-day trek too. The boleto cost 60 Soles each, don’t lose it as you will show it at all entry points and for surprise park official visits! If not doing any multi-day hikes, entry to park is 10 Soles.
The trail is well marked so no problem even if you come without a guide or is a solo hiker. Beware though that the start of the trail is quite steep and mostly stairs, I was lagging and breathing heavily by the 20-minute mark LOL.
Aside from the steep ascent, the trail was pretty easy as it gradually takes you to higher altitude. However, once you got past the camp site that’s where the tiny bit of a challenge comes. See the photo below? We had to climb that slab of granite wall to get to the lake. Oo, as in sa taas nyang waterfalls. A bit of scrambling and ropes are involved.
It’s not as difficult as it sounds (if a 50+-year-old couple made it to the top, you definitely can too) but you need to be physically fit at least. Watch your step, take your time, hold on for your dear life.
At the top is this mini waterfalls (that goes straight down to the wall) where we replenished our water bottle. Then off we went up again.
Thirty or 4o minutes, depending on your pace, you could be already taking your triumphant photo on this same spot. :))
When we reached Laguna Churup the sky was already overcast. The view was still fantastic but Imagine if it was sunny. I bet photos of the mountain reflecting on the lake would be insanely amazing. But alas, we had to make do with this. 😉
The water is cold but clear. You can see what’s under, at least those near the edge of the lake. There’s also a nice view of the Nevado Churup (the snowcapped mountain from where the glacial water come from).
We brought packed lunch but didn’t get to eat it there. We snacked on nuts and bananas instead. By 11:30am we were on our way down as we did not like the cloud darks gathering over Mt. Churup. So we said goodbye to the other folks there and proceeded with our descent.
The view we left behind was reminiscent of the mountains of Mordor. No doubt it’s already raining on the scrambling area, a spot I wouldn’t wanna be caught.
We arrived at the park’s entrance 2 1/2 hours later. No collectivo in sight. Just 2 cars in the parking area, one we presumed belonged to the older couple we met along the way. We waited for them hoping to catch a lift but failed haha. We were about to start the 30-minute trek to Llupa when a collectivo arrived. Hooray! We waited for a few more passengers before we left. I slept like a baby on the way back, occasionally jolted out of my slumber to see more passengers picked up in the middle of a heavy downpour.
Arrived at 4pm in Huaraz, hopped on a cab to get to hostel because streets were flooding and we didn’t want to get our boots soaked. That concludes our first dayhike in Huaraz. Up next, Santa Cruz multi-day hike!
Huaraz – Pitec collectivo fee: 10 Soles per person
Pitec – Huaraz collectivo fee: 10 Soles per person
Travel time: 1 hour
Taxi to Monkey Wasi: 3 Soles