Huaraz is known for its beautiful backdrop of mountains in the Huascaran National Park. When flying into Lima, you will be at sea level. Huaraz sits at 3,052 meters or 10,013 feet. This is a huge change and can sometimes lead to altitude sickness. The best way to avoid this is by resting for a few days at least and then doing an easy hike as your first. This is where Laguna Wilcacocha is excellent.
There are many laguna hikes located around Huaraz and the region in general. I wouldn’t consider this much of a lake but more like a large pond. This is nothing similar to other hikes like Laguna Llaca, Laguna Ahuac, or Laguna Paron. The perk of this mountain is that it has amazing views of Huascaran National Park and also only reaches heights of 3725 meters.
In this guide, I will go over how to get here and all other details regarding Laguna Wilcacocha in Huaraz.
Where is Laguna Wilcacocha Located?
Located just southeast of the town of Huaraz, Laguna Wilcacocha is an easily accessible hike. It is a 15-minute drive to the trailhead and is very hard to miss.
The lake sits in the Cordillera Negra. Cordillera is a mountain range in Spanish and Negra means black.
How to Get to Laguna Wilcacocha
There are two main ways to get to the trailhead if you don’t have your own car. If you are short on time, then you could take a taxi for around 20 soles. Simply state the Laguna and they will know where to go.
A cheaper option would be to take a collectivo. I would suggest downloading Mapsme and looking on the map for the “bus to Wilcacocha Laguna” stop. This will take you steps away from the trailhead for around 2 soles each way.
How to Get to Huaraz, Peru
Huaraz is one of the most popular places in Peru and is often referred to as the hiking capital of the country. This means there are multiple bus options for you. Buses in Peru, from my experience, are really good 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.
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.
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.
Laguna Wilcacocha Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is around a 4-mile loop hike. This varies slightly depending on the trail you take early on.
- Duration: On average it will take people 3 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 1883 feet or 574 meters.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
To read reviews about this hike and other details you can visit the hike’s Alltrails page
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.
My Experience Hiking to Laguna Wilcacocha
When looking online, I didn’t see a ton of pictures of the lake. This made sense once we made it to the top because the view of Huascaran National Park is the real reason for this hike.
While Laguna Wilcacocha is a beautiful area, the mountains take the cake.
The trail starts shortly after the yellow bridge that will lead to your right. If you follow mapsme then you won’t have an issue finding the trail.
Two Different Trails
The Laguna Wilcacocha trail started out more steep than I had imagined it would. You will be on a very clear path but at a certain point, a different trail will start to your right.
This trail was hard to see for us. So hard that we actually missed it when hiking up. This wasn’t a big issue as it only adds a little bit more to the hike.
It will end up being the same mileage if you take this trail down instead.
The first half of the trail up to Laguna Wilcacocha takes you through residential housing which was both weird and cool at the same time.
Views Throughout Wilcacocha Lake Hike
Once you get past the many houses, you will be on a trail labeled by signs. These signs will abbreviate caminar, which means to walk in Spanish, followed by Laguna Wilcacocha.
Along these many different paths, you will be blessed with spectacular views of the mountain landscape. These will predominately be to your right.
After about a mile alone on these trails, you will be led upwards to the lake where there will be even better views.
The one thing about this hike is that it is in the straight sun and normally hotter than some other hikes around Huaraz. So bring sunscreen and plenty of water.
Arrival at Laguna Wilcacocha
After a hotter hike than expected, we arrived at Laguna Wilcacocha. The lake was a lot smaller than I had anticipated but the views were still top-notch.
We started this hike later than we would have liked and this meant there were a lot more people at the top. You can walk around the lake in a couple of minutes pretty easily.
We stopped here for lunch and then headed to a small hill on the other side of the lake for some pictures.
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 Wilcacocha Hike
Laguna Wilcacocha was one of those hikes where it was very different from what I had expected. This isn’t a bad thing either. The lake was smaller than previously presumed but the views were at least 10x better. This is a great first hike in Huaraz to get acclimatized before embarking on the many other things to do in Huaraz. My suggestion would be to take it slow, drink a lot of water, and keep getting enough sleep. I would highly suggest this hike when visiting Huaraz in Peru.
Thank you for reading my guide to the Laguna Wilcacocha Hike! I hope this has helped you make the adventure on your own.