Luís Simões, travel sketcher around the world
The Huascaran Loop is a 6-7 days bike touring route across the Huascaran National Park, Peru. It takes in a variety of terrain with scenic views of the white mountain range in the center of the country known as Cordillera Branca.
Situated in the center of Peru and towering whitewashed mountains, the Huascaran Loop, peru is a 230-kilometer challenging route – yet rideable – will take riders through over two of the most stunning road passes in the world. Disembark from Carhuaz to make a loop through Huascaran National Park until the starting point again.
How to get to the Huascaran Loop, Peru?
The easiest way will be to take a flight to Lima and then, take another plane or a bus to Huaraz, the biggest town nearby. From Huaraz to Carhuaz, the distance is only around 30 km (depends on where you stay). But, if you want to save energy for the tour, some taxis or buses will bring you to the starting point of this Huascaran Loop tour.
Due to the elevation of its region, it is recommended to do acclimatize which travel by bus will help you. There are numerous bus companies with comfortable seats such as Cruz del Sur, Movil Tours, Oltursa, and many more.
The Huascaran Loop tour will take you from Carhuaz to cross the Huascaran National Park through Punta Olympica, to Chacas, back to the park again through charming villages until Yanama, before continuing through beautiful wilderness en route to the pass Portachuelo de Llanganuco until Yungay.
This tour can be done clockwise or counterclockwise perfectly. Also, where you start/finish really can be anywhere on the loop. However, there are some elements to think about: The road from Carhuaz to Punta Olympica is all paved, and the road that ascends/descends from the other pass – Portachuelo de Llanganuco – is rough gravel.
Day 1 – Carhuaz to the wild camp before the switchbacks to Punta Olimpica
The distance from Carhuaz to the first pinpoint is only 32 km on a 100% paved road. However, the path is constantly going up to roughly from 2650 m above sea level to 3900 m above sea level with 10-14% of inclinations at some points.
As soon as you arrived at the first end, find a good spot to set up the tent. Wild camping is permitted in Huascarán National Park, but it’s recommended to remain out of sight of the road, for safety reasons. There is a stream for water access. At this point, the reduced level of oxygen is noticeable but don’t worry much, stay hydrated, and enjoy the calm and starry night of the wilderness.
Day 2 – The wild camp before the switchbacks to Punta Olimpica to Chacas
Start the day with 800m pedaling up in 15 km until the junction of the old road that leads to Punta Olimpica and the tunnel. There are viewpoints where you see the beautiful valley and dramatic switchbacks on the scene that you can check on the map.
Once you reach the junction, and before you decide to cycle through the old road to Punta Olympica, you have to consider how was the weather days before. As it is an old path, no vehicle passes through that making it full of snow. In this case, it will be more challenging to go through. However, your effort will get the payback once you reach the top. If you decide to ride through the old track, you have to climb 2 km more to reach the Punta Olympica, before rolling down until Chacas. Or, take the easier way – the tunnel (1,4 km) – and roll down until Chacas.
Day 3 – Chacas to Yanama
Start the day ride on asphalt for 12 km going down until Acochaca village before climbing 1320 meters up again – this time on gravel – for 28 km over Pupash pass. This stretch mostly has a pleasant inclination with some steep parts, especially on the last kilometers. Once you reach the Pupash pass, enjoy the 7 kilometers descent gravel until Yanama. If time is not your problem, you can stay overnight in Sapcha. This way, the tour will be easier and you can enjoy the wilderness the next day.
Day 4 – Yanama to the wild camp next to Laguna Suirococha
Departing from Yanama village, you will climb up again on 100% gravel roads that bring you through small captivating lakes surrounded by white blanketed mountains. In this 24 km stretch, you will ride for 1000 meters up until you reach Laguna Suirococha. Cherish the night in a luxury stary-roofed hotel at 4242 meters above sea level.
Day 5 – The wild camp next to Laguna Suirococha to Yungay
From Laguna Suirococha, you need to ride up again for another 10 kilometers on a decent gravel road until you reach the Portachuelo de Llanganuco pass. After you set foot on the last pass of this Huascaran Loop, you will be descending for 45 kilometers until Yungay. Don’t miss the incredible viewpoints of Llanganuco lakes to stop and immerse yourself in.
Day 6 – Yungay to Carhuaz
The route from Yungay until Carhuaz is 100% paved road. However, as it is the main road, acknowledge that there is a lot of traffic here with no shoulder road. If you do this, be aware. If you want to avoid the risk, you can skip this stretch and get a taxi to go back to Huaraz.
As I wrote above, you can make it faster to skip day 6 to avoid the risk of heavy traffic on the road. Or, you can make it longer, split Day 3 into two to ease the trip a bit. See the box information below for more details.
Watch our Huascaran Loop tour
How to use this map: Click the tab in the top left corner of the map to see the points of interest. You can click on the selection folders to hide or show the folders. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
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Huascaran National Park surrounded by imposing glaciers whose melt waters bathe these mountains and give rise to mighty rivers.