The name Cordillera Blanca in and of itself sounds imposing. Known to be one of the biggest mountain ranges in the world, the majority of its peaks measure around 6000 m.a.s.l.
Located 100 km from the Pacific coast and measuring 180 km long, The Cordillera Blanca forms a natural barrier between the coast and the Amazon jungle. Every mountain top is more beautiful than the next, and many hiking trips can be arranged through the Cordillera’s grand mountain passes. The mountain roads were built centuries ago by the native people of the region.
The Cordillera Blanca, and its many beautiful places, is now accessible by various roads using 4x4 vehicles. Huaraz, at 3091 m.a.s.l., used to be a beautiful little town until the terrible earthquake of 1970. Though the village has been reconstructed, it is not quite as beautiful as it used to be. That said, the National Park of Huascaran is close to Huaraz; founded in 1975 the Park is a nature preserve for the amazing flora and fauna of the region. The surrounding landscapes are beyond beautiful, and the area is also well-known for its giant plants called Puyas de Raymondy, some of which measure more than 10 meters. Definitely worth seeing!
Chavín de Huantar -- The ruins of Chavín de Huantar are one of the earliest and best-known pre-Columbian sites - dating from 1500 to 300 B.C. They are a striking complex of terraces and squares, surrounded by structures of dressed stone with zoomorphic ornamentation. It can be reached by public transportation or a tour (around s/.20). The entrance is s/.11 and there is a 50% discount for students. There is a small site museum.
The Cordillera Blanca and its Huascarán National Park offer excellent possibilities for trekking.
The trail starts at Llupa. There are frequent combis leaving from Huaraz. It's also possible to hire a taxi and start at Pitec.
From Llupa it's about 1 hour walk to Pitec. From there it's about 2 hours uphill to the laguna. The last part involves a bit of rockclimbing. From the laguna there is a short trail leading to the smaller Laguna Churupita.
The trail starts at a site called Cebollapampa. There is a combi in the morning leaving from Yungay, which is about 1.5 hours from Huaraz. It's also possible to get a shared taxi.
It's about 3~4 hours from the trailhead to the laguna. The views on the way are excellent.
You can either start from a place called cashapampa, which is about one hour from Caraz, there are frequent colectivos going. Or you can start at the other side at a place called vacaria, which is about two hours from Yungay.
The Santa Cruz trek is Peru's second most popular trek after the Inca trail.
An itinerary which includes all of the main attractions of the Cordillera Blanca and all the typical views of the snow-capped peak of Alpamayo (5947 m.a.s.s.) – declared to be the world’s most beautiful mountain by the UN in 1968.