Cordillera de Huayhuash

September 28th, 2007

As part of my series Explorando Lima, in which I try to demonstrate the vast diversity and astounding beauty of Peru – so much of it that you need not even leave the region of Lima to find it, I show you arguably the most spectacular and beautiful places on the face of the earth. A remote range of mountains visited only by the most experienced of high-altitude hikers. The Cordillera of Huayhuash.

Rick McCharles
Photo: Rick McCharles

Looking at photographs of this place blows my mind, not only is it breathtakingly beautiful, but it’s located only 250km northeast of the city of Lima, where the regions of Lima, Huanuco and Ancash meet. Strangely, though probably thankfully, this area argued by many who have hiked across the world to be the most beautiful, is also one of the least known and trekked areas. The Cordillera stretches 30km southwards from Ancash and Huanuco into the region of Lima. It is home to peaks, lagoons and glaciers of incomparable beauty.

Rick McCharles
Photo: Rick McCharles

Of its peaks, 6 rise higher than 6000 metres and another 15 rise higher than 5400 metres. Yerupajá at 6,634 metres is the second highest mountain in Peru and the entire range is the second highest in the world at in a tropical region. The range feeds rivers running to the Pacific coast and rivers running to join the Amazon and the Atlantic Ocean.

Jon Young
Photo: Jon Young

Visiting Huayhuash

Those interested in trekking in the region should take note, as Rick McCharles, editor at makes clear, Huayhuash is dangerous.

“Hikers have died there. This is arguably the best hike in the world but is appropriate only for robust, experienced high altitude trekkers.”

He also explains, “The mountain range is isolated, rugged & challenging. Though this Circuit is not for the faint of heart, many feel it is the most rewarding hike in South America.

Those who do come to Huayhuash get close to Peru’s second highest summit, Yerupajá (6634m). Here also is notorious Siula Grande (6344m) where Joe Simpson survived a 4-day-crawl to base camp after his partner was forced to cut his rope while he dangled over a crevasse. It was vividly recounted in book and movie, Touching the Void.”

Tom Graham
Photo: Tom Graham

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