Note: This is the trip to Lago Wilcacocha. There is also a Laguna Wilcacocha further South of Hauraz. I apologise for any confusion.
11 August 2015
This is a great half-day trip out of Huaraz. It was after lunch time before I decided I should get myself out of town. I found a colectivo (1 sol) heading south out of Huaraz that could take me to Chiwipampa, where the trail starts. We arrived there about 15 minutes later and the locals that were in the van pointed up the steep hill to the right and told me that the lake was mas arriba. The gravel road can be taken all the way up to the lake, but I took an obvious trail that headed directly up the hill. It was a bit of a climb and I was glad that I was already feeling acclimatised. I passed a couple of other parties that were struggling with the altitude. Like many others who go on this walk, they were using it as test to see if they would manage on longer treks. They had been told that if they could get up to the lake in 2 hours then they would be ok to walk the popular Santa Cruz trek.
A bit further on a young boy and his mother started chasing me, trying to convince me that I should buy a 2 litre bottle of soft drink from them. I had to tell them that I was quite happy with water.
It took me 1 hour to get to the lake from the road. The lake (3725m) itself was nothing special, especially after seeing many stunning glacial lakes on other treks, such as the Ausangate and Lares treks. A few locals floated around the lake on a lilo, laughing as they splashed each other.
The highlight of this walk is the view of the Cordillera Blanca that you get from the top. When I was at the lake there were quite a few clouds about but it was still a fantastic outlook. A few dogs sat on the ridge enjoying the view with me.
The trip back down the hill took about 45 minutes and was a bit tough on the knees. A colectivo pulled up just as I reached the road so I was back in Huaraz in no time.
If you are looking for a good half-day trip out of Huaraz give this one a go. The track is easy to follow (just keep heading up!) and there are lots of locals to ask along the way if you are unsure. This is a popular acclimatization walk, with many people testing their legs and lungs out before they head off on longer (and higher) treks in the area. If you haven’t spent much time at altitude yet then take it slow on the way up.
Trip type: half day walk
Trip highlights: Views of Cordillera Blanca
Trip distance: 3.2 km each way.
Trip time: 1-2 hours uphill, about 1 hour down.
Max altitude: 3725m
Travel to/from trailhead: Get a colectivo (1 sol) or taxi to Chiwipampa. If you ask for Lago Wilcacocha that will get you there too. I was told a colectivo on route number 10 would get me there, but ended up getting one on the “E” route. For the return trip, there are plenty of colectivos heading back to Huaraz – just flag one down.
Elevation profile: (from lake down to road)
Other notes: I have heard that camping at the Lake is possible and quite nice. Might be worth thinking about – it would be a great view to wake up to!