Laguna Churup—The Most Underrated Hike In Huaraz, Peru

Laguna Churup—The Most Underrated Hike In Huaraz, Peru

Laguna Churup is the most underrated hike in Huaraz, Peru. It is a well-known hike, and you will see a lot of other travelers and locals on your way to the laguna. However, it doesn’t get the same amount of hype that other hikes around Huaraz do, like Laguna 69.

Laguna Churup is still an absolutely breathtaking trek and is the perfect way to acclimate to bigger and higher excursions you may be planning.

The classic Laguna Churup view

The best part of Laguna Churup is you can go on your own! Most hikes in Huaraz require booking with a tour guide, but all you have to get to Laguna Churup is hop on a short bus ride and enjoy at your own leisurely pace.

The Perfect Acclimation Hike

Laguna Churup sits at 14,500ft (4,450m) above sea level. It is no easy accomplishment to spend a full day hiking at such an altitude, but it is not the highest or most strenuous hike in the region. This is why Laguna Churup is such an excellent acclimation hike.

The elevation sign at Laguna Churup

Laguna Churup is often recommended for those preparing for the Santa Cruz Trek or some of the other high-altitude hikes around Huaraz, Peru.

What To Expect On The Hike To Laguna Churup

The hike to Laguna Churup is gorgeous, as long as you aren’t too tired to enjoy the views. The hike is a clear path going straight up, with the occasional flat stretches of land for a short recovery.

You should be aware that there is a little climbing on both trek paths. There are a couple of points that involve a rope or chains and some simple maneuvering to get over ledges and large rocks.

Part of the trail, surrounded by beautiful mountains

This part of the trek can be a little intimidating and daunting, but it is nothing super complicated. However, if you’re terrified of heights or lack confidence in your rope-maneuvering skills, you may consider skipping this trek.

One of my biggest fears is coming across these rope points on a hike and falling. If I had been told about this part of the hike, I might have decided against the hike. However, I am thrilled I didn’t know beforehand because it wasn’t too difficult, and the end views were well worth it.

The Sights On The Way Up

You will pass several waterfalls along the way while surrounded by the stunning snow-capped Andes mountains on all sides.

Spot the small waterfall nestled in the mountains

Since the hike is practically straight up, you will have an endless view of the valley landscape you came from right from the beginning. The mountains only get bigger and closer the further into the hike you go.

While there isn’t as much wildlife as on other hikes around Huaraz, Peru, there is still a lot to see! The panoramic view of the mountains keeps the eyes busy enough.

Distance And Altitude

Laguna Churup is roughly 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) one way or 3.6 miles (6 kilometers) round trip. Most of the hike is on a steady include, beginning with a steep set of stairs right at the beginning.

Laguna Churup is 14,500ft (4,450m) above sea level. It took us about 4 hours to do the entire hike (2 hours going up, 1 down, and an hour or two at the laguna). It is best to set aside a minimum of 4 hours for the hike.

The altitude is no joke

The high altitude makes the hike much more challenging, especially for those that are beginners to altitude hiking.

I did Laguna Churup on my first day in Huaraz, Peru. I had the worst altitude sickness right from the beginning, but it was manageable. I would give myself an extra day to acclimate to the elevation in Huaraz.

How To Get To Laguna Churup

Laguna Churup is incredibly easy to do on your own. If you decide to go this route, you can find a local colectivo (a small white van) going to Pitek. The colectivos can easily be located on the corner of Avenue Agustin Gamarra and Avenue Antonio Raymondi near the center of Huaraz.

Most people we met recommended catching the first colectivo at 7 am to ensure enough time. The colectivo only goes once it is full, and if you go on a later colectivo, you might be waiting a long time. However, we caught a colectivo around 10 am and had no problems.

Near the base of the hike, where the colectivos drop you off

The colectivo should cost around 10 soles (USD 2.60) and take about 45 minutes.

The colectivo drops you off right at the trailhead of Laguna Churup. You should see a clear sign and path leading up some stairs to the beginning of the trek.

Entrance Fee

Laguna Churup and the surrounding national park does have an entrance fee. You will come across a small hut about 30-45 minutes into the hike, where you stop, fill out some simple paperwork, and pay an entrance fee.

At the time of our visit, the entrance fee was 30 soles (USD 7.80) for one day or 60 soles (USD 15.60) for a three-day pass to Huascaran National Park. We opted for the three-day access as we planned other hikes in the Huascaran National Park for that week.

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Huascaran National Park or Cordillera Blanca has some pretty well-known hikes, including:

  • Laguna 69
  • Santa Cruz Multi-Day Trek
  • Laguna Llaca

If you can plan your trip accordingly, you can get the most out of your National Park Pass!

How To Get Back To Huaraz From Laguna Churup

Getting back from Laguna Churup is just as simple as getting there. The colectivo waits at the base of the hike for all hikers. Once it is full, it takes you back to Huaraz.

When we went, the colectivo was actually taking the names of hikers on a clipboard. Because we were the last ones at Laguna Churup, we had to wait at the base for all hikers to return to the van before heading back to Huaraz. We ended up waiting about an hour and a half before we could get going.

The Hike Up To The Laguna

The hike up to Laguna Churup is incredibly easy to navigate. There is a clear path going the entire way, with sporadic signs showing elevation and directions.

Looking down on the valley below

About one-third of the way into the hike, the path does split off in two directions.

Two Different Routes

You can choose between two different routes going up and down. Both paths lead you directly to Laguna Churup, so you can’t really go wrong either way.

Which Is The Best Route?

We did find that the best route was taking the “right” path going up and the “left” path going down. The “right” path has a tricky little segment that requires holding onto chains to maneuver yourself over a large rock. I think this would be much more difficult going down than up.

How To Prepare For Laguna Churup

On paper, Laguna Churup doesn’t look too difficult, considering the distance and hiking time. However, the altitude and unpredictable weather can make all the difference. Here are some tips for being as prepared as possible.

Prepare For High-Altitude Hiking

You should understand that the sheer altitude of Laguna Churup can make the hike much more physically demanding than an average hike. Be prepared for altitude and prepare yourself in any way possible. Here are some tips to prepare for this level of altitude hiking:

  • Acclimate in Huaraz for at least a day or two
  • Take your first day in Huaraz easy
  • Drink plenty of coca tea and/or coffee
  • Drink lots of water before the hike and stay hydrated
  • Take frequent breaks during the hike
  • Don’t be afraid to go slow
  • Look into altitude sickness medications
  • Bring ibuprofen on the hike
  • Turn around if you have to

It’s essential to listen to your body. Don’t force yourself to finish if your body just isn’t handling the altitude well.

Up in the clouds through the entire hike

Trust me when I say, it will be well worth the struggle if you can slowly make your way to Laguna Churup.

Prepare For The Weather

The weather can really make or break this hike. One of our friends went on a rainy day and said the laguna was absolutely freezing, making it not enjoyable to relax at the laguna. We got lucky and saw only clouds and a few minutes of light rain at the top.

A cloudy day at Laguna Churup

The rainy season is from December to March in Huaraz, Peru. However, because of the altitude, it may be rainy or cloudy during the dry season.

Make sure to bring plenty of layers and rain cover just in case it does rain.

What To Bring On Your Hike To Laguna Churup

Here is a complete list of some recommended things to bring on your hike to Laguna Churup:

  • At least 2 liters of water
  • Food and snacks to eat at the laguna or along the way
  • Ibuprofen to help with any headaches
  • Coca leaves, candy, or gum to help with altitude sickness
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun
  • Lots of layers—leggings/long pants, an extra pair of socks, a hat, gloves, a long sleeve shirt, a light jacket to layer, a waterproof/windproof jacket, a dry set of clothes, and a dry towel if you go swimming, a lightweight poncho for rain
  • A plastic bag to take out trash you bring in
  • A good camera or phone for all your pictures

These are just the key recommendations. When organizing a day hike on your own, it is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Congratulations—You’ve Made It To Laguna Churup

Reaching Laguna Churup was one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences of the week in Huaraz. It was hard for me, considering it was my first day in Huaraz, but I was ecstatic to be there.

Laguna Churup is a big, beautiful laguna with deep blue waters surrounded by the Andes mountains and breathtaking views.

A photo of Laguna Churup

We packed cheese and avocado sandwiches, grapes, and strawberries found at the local market in Huaraz. This proved to be the most perfect post-hike meal we could have packed.

Our meal kit spread

After enjoying the much-deserved lunch, we spent about an hour taking pictures and wandering around Laguna Churup.

Swimming In Laguna Churup

Believe it or not, some people do go swimming in Laguna Churup. One of our friends actually went swimming as soon as we reached the top. However, she is from a small Italian village in Northern Italy and is much more accustomed to the hike’s weather, altitude, and depth than the average person there.

If you do decide to go swimming, make sure you are well-prepared. You should have warm, dry clothes and a towel ready for you as soon as you get out. Try to also avoid getting your hair wet. It is cold at the top, after all.

In my opinion, it might be best to sit back, relax, and enjoy the view of the laguna rather than freezing in the water.

Not Done Yet? You Can Keep Going

Technically, the hike doesn’t have to finish at Laguna Churup. You can go around the laguna to a clear-marked path that takes you to a smaller laguna.

Since we went on the last bus of the day, we did not have enough time to go to the second laguna. Our friend did a hike to both lagunas and said it was about an hour and a half round-trip hike from Laguna Churup to the second laguna.

Moral Of The Story—Make Time For Laguna Churup

Most people don’t go to Laguna Churup because they simply don’t have enough time. Between Huaraz and the hiking around Cusco, there are dozens of beautiful hikes, so it is understandable. But Laguna Churup is a gem of a hike and makes for an incredible experience. If you can make the time, don’t miss this one.

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