The walk to Wilcacocha was our “acclimatisation walk” upon arriving in Huaraz, which is in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range of Peru. Whilst we’d initially planned to have an “acclimatisation day”, having gone from sea level in the surfing resort of Huancacho to over 3,000m above in Huaraz, we’d been told this was an easy walk so thought we’d give it a go.
Needless to say, it was not an easy walk, although perhaps it was relatively easy compared to those that followed. The ascent is roughly equivalent to hiking up Moel Siabod in Wales, which is a well-worn track for Outdoor Lads. However, you start with a 3,000m disadvantage, which makes quite the difference. We’d arrived at about 5am in the morning, so after a bit of sleep, we set off just before lunchtime. As the saying goes, “Only mad dogs and English men…”, and we found ourselves on a steep ascent in blazing sunshine. The view from the top was great, and even the clouds on the way down didn’t deter us, until it started raining. At least we’d come prepared with waterproofs.
The only downside to this walk was befriending a cute dog at the top of the hill, who then followed us all the way down, right through a point where there were some very vicious dogs snapping at our ankles, leaving the dog following us with no backwards path. Andy eventually shooed the poor thing off which sort of upset me as the dog had also befriended us humans.
How we did it
This was a fairly easy walk to get to as we took a Route 10 collectivo from outside our bed and breakfast in Palmira, to the start of the walk in Chiuipampa. It’s also possible to get the Route E collectivo. The collectivo was PEN 2 each way.
The more difficult bit was navigating the walk as the start of the walk goes through the small settlement of Santa Cruz which has a few paths going in different directions. Further up the hill, there’s also a track which crosses the path and makes things a little bit more confusing. So, the best recommendation here is to install an app called maps.me, and then download the map fro Peru – North. This is a great app as it works offline, and allows you to drop pins as well as see where you are.