It’s funny sometimes. A recurring event for us while traveling is that we seem to be in a new country during a big event. This ranges from the elections in Colombia to strikes in Ecuador, and now Peru’s Independence Day. Because of this, Huaraz was extremely packed with both tourists and locals for the week. This meant our big hike planned to Laguna Churup was going to be a bit more crowded.
I can see why it is so popular. The trail is very well maintained and can easily be done without a guide. Transportation here, like all of Peru, is extremely straightforward and easy. Other hikes like Laguna Paron, Laguna Llaca, and Laguna Ahuac were probably busy as well because we went on the weekend.
In this guide, I will go over all the details you need to know to hike to Laguna Churup on your own without a guide.
Where is Laguna Churup Located?
Laguna Churup is a 40-minute drive outside of the hiking Capital of Huaraz in Peru. The roads leading up to the trailhead are not the best, as is with most roads up into the mountains.
Laguna Churup is located in the Huascaran National Park, which means to enter it will cost you 30 soles or around $7.50 USD. This is totally worth it as it helps maintain the area and some of the money will also be given to the locals.
This is a perfect hike to add to your Peru itinerary due to its ease of access and beautiful lake view!
How to Get to Laguna Churup Trailhead
If you didn’t rent a vehicle while in Peru, then your best option is to take public transport. Taxis will be expensive as it is a far drive and the terrain is difficult on cars.
Look on mapsme for the Combi to Llupa, Pitec. The trailhead is at Pitec and this is where most people in the Combi will be headed to.
The cost is 10 soles each way, so 20 soles roundtrip.
This is more expensive than most any other public transport to the trailhead but is a slightly farther drive.
You will go inside a shop to fill out a Boleto or ticket for your roundtrip ticket to Pitec. This is when I knew Laguna Churup was a very popular hike in the area.
Laguna Churup: Tour vs Independent
The Laguna Churup hike is one of the easiest hikes to get to and figure out on your own.
Even though this was the most expensive colectivo we took in Huaraz, it was still extremely affordable because of the low cost of travel in Peru.
It makes sense for other hikes around Huaraz like Laguna 69 to be popular with tour companies. That hike has a complicated route for those wanting to go solo.
As far as the trail for Laguna Churup, it is well maintained and you really don’t need any maps while there. You will also most likely be with a lot of people as it is a popular hike.
Overall, I do not suggest taking a tour for this hike and your money will be better spent on other activities because of it!
How to Get to Huaraz, Peru
Huaraz is one of the most popular places in Peru. It is often referred to as the hiking capital of the country due to its many amazing hikes. This means there are multiple bus options for you. Buses in Peru, from my experience, are excellent and cheap. Below I will go over how to get there from a couple of popular areas in the country.
Lima to Huaraz
There are many different bus companies in Lima that will take you to Huaraz. Also, there isn’t a central bus station. Most buses have their own bus terminal. The most cost-effective way to use these buses is to buy a night bus. Below are some tips for getting to Huaraz from Lima.
- If you don’t want to go to the bus terminal, you can order your ticket on Redbus. This is the go-to for online bus tickets in Peru.
- Julio Ceasar is one of the highest-rated bus companies but they are all pretty good.
- Terminal Plaza Norte and La Victoria are two good stations
- The bus ride is around 8 hours. If you buy early you can get tickets as cheap as $15 to $20.
Cajamarca to Huaraz
Traveling from Cajamarca to Huaraz is slightly more difficult but still very easy. It is only more difficult because you have to switch buses and isn’t a straight shot. You will be going from Cajamarca to Trujillo to Huaraz. This is the route we took and is very easy.
- Go to the bus station Terminal Terrestre Cajamarca ATC & find any bus going to Trujillo. We paid 30 soles for ours
- Once in Trujillo, you can go to the Terrapuerto Trujillo bus terminal or you can buy your ticket in advance
- We paid 70 soles for the 1st class seats which are amazing for night buses. You get better seats that help you sleep at night.
Is the Laguna Churup Hike Difficult?
Many will perceive the Laguna Churup hike differently. This is due to multiple reasons. Below you will see I rank this hike as moderate to difficult.
One of the biggest reasons the Laguna Churup hike will be difficult for most is due to the high elevation you reach. 4,450 meters or 14,600 feet is a higher altitude than most have been.
The second hardest part of the hike in my opinion is the section with the chains. You will need to use your upper body straight to pull yourself up the mountain. More about that is below.
Laguna Churup Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is around a 4.5 mile out & back hike. This varies slightly depending on if you visit the Mirador or not.
- Duration: On average it will take people 4 to 5 hours to finish. This depends on fitness level and time at the laguna.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult because of the altitude and elevation gain.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 2054 feet or 626 meters.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
To read the reviews about this hike and other details, you can visit Alltrails
Best Time to Visit Huaraz, Peru
Most people when visiting Peru and especially Huaraz, are here to go trekking. This means the most ideal weather is when there is a lower chance of rainfall.
Even though it is Winter, the best time to visit Huaraz is between May and September. The weather is more likely to call for blue skies and it is also the dryest period of the year.
With how high Huaraz and the surrounding mountains sit, it will always be cold at night.
Best Places to Stay in Huaraz, Peru
- Alpes Huaraz: This is where I stayed during my time in Huaraz and it was amazing. The area is set up like a mini-hotel and the kitchen is huge. Dorms are very cheap at $7-$9.
- Krusty Hostel: With great prices for private rooms and growing in popularity, there isn’t much to hate about this hostel. Centrally located just a few blocks from the main square.
- Vacahouse Huaraz B&B: This is a great hostel if you’re traveling as a couple. The private rooms are very nice and for a good price.
Tips for Altitude Sickness in Huaraz
A common fear of most people when traveling to these parts of Peru is the chance of getting altitude sickness. This isn’t fun and can ruin a trip. Here are some of the best tips to lower the chances of this happening to you while traveling to Peru:
- Drink a lot of water (I like to aim for a gallon a day)
- Rest, Rest, Rest. Sleep is everything with recovery and health.
- If you’re planning on hiking, start with smaller hikes like Laguna Wilcacocha or Mirador de Rataquenua
- Coca is very popular in Peru and having some of the candy on hand can be smart
- Stop and rest wherever you are
- Take ibuprofen
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
Things to Know Before Hiking Laguna Churup
Some of these topics might be self-explanatory to some but if it helps out just one person, then it has done its job.
- Wear the correct attire: This means wearing hiking boots, a jacket, hiking pants, and some comfortable hiking socks. You want the hike to be as enjoyable as possible and this will help.
- Bring snacks & water: My go-to trail food during our time in Peru was peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. This is a great combination of healthy fats and carbs that will give you the energy to keep going. Also, the occasional chocolate bar doesn’t hurt. I recommend bringing 1.5 to 2 liters of water with you. If you don’t like using bottles then try out the Grayl water filter.
- Weather reports are not always accurate: When hiking in high-altitude climates, the weather can change drastically. We went during the dry season in July and the weather was perfect for us. Starting in September, the weather can become quite unpredictable at times.
- Offline maps are your best friend: You might not always need them but the use of apps like Maps.me is crucial when hiking. The trails on here are fairly accurate and the app is easy to use. Best of all you can download all the maps for free!
My Experience Hiking to Laguna Churup
We woke up early for this hike as we usually always like to do. Giving ourselves the most time possible for any hike is always beneficial. It turned out to be a good idea because in certain parts there was a lot of traffic.
Collectivo to Laguna Churup
The combi or collectivo will stop at a parking lot where others can park. At the entrance, you will see a mini-restaurant and other things. You don’t need to pay here to enter as you will pay at the end of this first rocky incline section.
After this area, the trail starts to become steep for a good half of a mile. The views are amazing as you start to hike into a canyon-looking area where Laguna Churup is located.
The Heavy Incline Gravel Ridgeline
This was one of my favorite areas because your imagination can run wild. You aren’t able to see much further past the mountains and wonder how far Laguna Churup is.
You will hike along one of the best ridgelines in the area as you can see from the drone shot that I posted up above. There are some great places to rest with sun cover. After about an hour we arrived at the area where you paid to enter the park.
Chain Section 1
When talking to others at our hostel about this hike, they mentioned there would be a section of chains. In fact, there are 2 sections. The way it was explained to us is that these chains were difficult and potentially rusty.
It was highly suggested to wear gloves but we didn’t have any.
It turned out to be fine as the chains seemed to be in great condition. This first section of chains wasn’t too bad and isn’t as steep as section number 2.
Personally, I enjoyed these small challenges as they made the hike more rewarding.
Chain Section 2
After the first section of chains, the incline started once again. At one point you are able to take a different trail to the left that will lead to the mirador. We decided to do that route on the way down, as many others did as well.
Right before the second area of chains, you will reach a campsite and gaze upon the steepest section of the hike.
This area of chains is where the largest backup occurred as it was very steep and consisted of two different sections.
The good news is shortly after completing the second set of chains, you will practically be at Laguna Churup.
Arriving at Laguna Churup
About 30 minutes post chains, you will arrive at Laguna Churup sitting at 4,450 meters. There are some large rock areas that are great to sit down and have lunch at.
The lake is stunning and there are multiple different spots to get a view of it from. If you look at mapsme you will see different trails.
There is one trail that leads down and then back up to the mirador. This trail also will lead you back down to the trailhead.
On the other side of Laguna Churup is another lake. This lake is called Churupita. If you have time you can follow the trail toward this laguna.
We decided against it and headed towards the mirador.
The ridgelines on the way back down when going this route were amazing and it took us another 90 minutes to make it back to the trailhead.
Looking for an extra adventure? Then fear not as there is actually a second lake shortly past Laguna Churup!
Laguna Churupita is the name of this and it is easily accessible by a trail on the left side of Laguna Churup. If you’re interested, make sure you have enough time to complete this!
This trail will add another 2.4 km or 1.5 miles. The extra 100 meters of elevation is no joke either. This is the hardest section of the entire day for those who attempt it.
If you want to add even more miles onto those hiking boots of yours then you can follow the Pitek trail to the trailhead of Laguna Churup.
To reach this trail you will want to take a colectivo to Llupa. This colectivo will run more frequently due to more locals using it than tourists.
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Other Activities to Do in Huaraz, Peru
Huaraz is a dream location for anyone who loves hiking or climbing. There are so many amazing hikes around this area. Some of these are not crowded at all, even in high season. I love to have a good mixture of non-popular activities and popular ones. There’s a reason everyone goes to these such as Laguna 69 and Santa Cruz Trek. Check out some great activities to do around Huaraz below for a trip to this wonderful region of Peru.
Final Thoughts on Laguna Churup Hike
Sometimes it feels like I’m hiking too many Lagunas while visiting Huaraz. I don’t care though. These lakes are so beautiful and oftentimes have an amazing backdrop of a 5,000-meter mountain. Laguna Churup was no different. The combination of chains and incline made it for one of the more adventurous hikes we have done in Huaraz so far. I would highly recommend this hike to anyone visiting the area.
Thank you for reading my guide on Laguna Churup! I hope this information helps you complete this hike on your own.