Laguna Wilcacocha | Our guide to the best acclimatisation hike in Huaraz

Laguna Wilcacocha makes the perfect acclimatisation hike in Huaraz.  It’s not too high and not too difficult,  it’s not crowded or at least it wasn’t when we were there.  It has amazing views over to the Cordellia Blanca and can be reached by public transport in under an hour.  So it won’t cost you a fortune, you don’t need a tour or a taxi and you’ll be back in the city in time for a refreshing beer.

Laguna Wilcacocha
Laguna Wilcacocha

How did we get to Laguna Wilcacocha?

This hike is one that you can do independently by using public transport from Huaraz to the trailhead.  The collectivo that you need to catch will have and E or the number Ten on the windshield and we caught it on the road 3N heading south out of town just south of the avenue Jiron Julio 28.  The collectivo stops at the trailhead which is the road leading up to the village of Santa Cruz and the cost was approx 2.50 PEN per person.   If you check with your hostel most of the hostel owners have information on where to catch the different collectivos for each hike as there may be a point closer to the hostel you chose.   For  hostels to choose in Huaraz  check out our full Huaraz  blog for some ideas. 

The Laguna Wilcacocha Hike – what was it like?

Hike to Laguna Wilcacocha – Easy to moderate 
Starting altitude – 3159m, Height gained 592m in approximately 7km

This hike is advertised as a fairly easy hike and a great one to start with if you’re acclimatising with a view to do higher elevation hikes later in your stay.  Once the collectivo drops you off at the trailhead you make your way down the dirt track, across the bridge where the road turns up to the right and you’re on your way.   Approx 500m into the walk up the road the path veers to the left and here’s where the trail begins for real.  It’s a pretty easy trail to follow and the start of the trail snakes its way uphill zig zagging through the rocks and bushes.  

Laguna Wilcacocha Path
Laguna Wilcacocha Path

After a while you’ll come to a little village where the path winds its way through the narrow streets and then turns upwards again.  All the while the views behind, to the white topped mountains just becomes more and more spectacular.  We meandered our way through fields and homesteads where people were working and animals were laying in the sun as the path moved ever upwards.  The last stretch before reaching the lake was a little less steep and it was lovely just to catch your breath here. 

Laguna Wilcacocha Views
Laguna Wilcacocha Views

As we climbed the steps that would take us up onto the edge of the Laguna we saw two local ladies sitting under a couple of trees, spinning wool and knitting.  They had a blanket laid out of things they had knitted such as hats, leg warmers and scarves.  We sat down with them and chatted in our basic Spanish and their non existing English and Chris took a fancy to one of the hats.  It was only Twelve PEN so we bought it and they let me take their picture which was lovely.  It was one of those moments that we really enjoy whilst travelling.   Now onto the lake.  We made our way up to the viewpoint as the stunning mountains stole the show. The lake wasn’t that pretty but the mountains certainly made top for that.   After sitting and having our snack we walked round the lake, waved to the two local ladies and started back down. 

There are 2 options for going back down and that is either to retrace your steps and make your way down the steps and rocky path, through the village and then down again back to the main road or you can follow the road down which is less steep and easier on the legs however its longer as it winds round rather than taking you straight down.  Chris retraced his steps and I choose the road option and we both made it down safely.   When back at the trail head where the collectivo dropped you off you only have to cross the road and hail a collectivo going back to the town of Huaraz.  There are many going past and you won’t have to wait long at all. 

The local lady of Laguna Wilcacocha
The local lady of Laguna Wilcacocha

What to pack for the Laguna Wilcacocha Hike

It’s always a good Idea to have a check list of what to pack on a day hike this will be different when hiking at altitude as you need to take in to account the changes altitude makes to a hike.  Firstly the high you go the stronger the effect of the sun becomes so you need to make sure you can cover up to protect yourself. Get the high factor sun cream on and a hat with a wide brim to shade your face.  The same applies to the weather to being at altitude means it can get cold very quickly so it’s a good idea to keep some lightweight layers with you. 

This is not a long hike so food shouldn’t be an issue, it is, however always a good idea to have snacks ready for if the energy levels start to drop.  It’s also very important to stay hydrated so take enough water.  There is a little shop on the road where you start the hike you can stock up with water and snacks here if you haven’t already got it sorted.  Once you’re on the hike there nowhere to buy extra so make sure you carry enough for the whole hike.
 
We alway hike in walking boots that give good ankle support and recommend you to do the same.  I would say though that if you prefer to hike in trail shoes you shouldn’t have a problem.  Lynne walks with poles to help with balance these can be very handy and we recommend you take them if like to use them, they can really help especially on the downward slopes.

Our view

This is a great acclimatisation walk and fairly easy.  You gain altitude quite quickly and well defined path means its very difficult to get lost.  The laguna isn’t that pretty compared to some of the other laguna in the region however the views over to the mountain range are not to be missed.   The afternoon light is better for photography, don’t forget your camera it would be a shame to miss the chance of a great shot of the snow covered hills.  

Booking resources for your visit to Huaraz

Flights

You can compare cheap flights on the Expedia platform or here on the Aviasales website.  Both will give you a good idea of how much its going to cost you to get to your chosen destination.

Accommodation

We have always tended to use Booking.com having said that if your on a tight budget another good site to try as a comparison is Hostelworld, If your looking to compare different sites you can do that on Hotellook, we tend to look on here first to make sure we are getting the best deal.

Tours & Tickets

You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site.  Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.

For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.

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