Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit

A few weeks ago I fulfilled one of my dreams – to trek around the remote and rugged Cordillera Huayhuash mountain range in Peru. In the city of Huaraz, the base for most of the expeditions in the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash, I signed on to a 10 day trek with burros to carry all our camping gear, an arriero (burro driver), a guide, and a cook for all our meals! Deluxe! Not only that, but our random assortment of people turned out to be a good group and we all had a great time together. Below are a bunch of snapshots from the trek, in chronological order.

You can also see my gallery of landscape photos from the Huayhuash here.

Huayhuash burros

An arriero guides his burros over our first pass in the Cordillera Huayhash.

Janca camp with Jirishanca

Our second camp, at Janca. Jirishanca towers behind.

Jirishanca Ridge Hike

Hiking a beautiful knife ridge with a spectacular view of Jirishanca.

Lots more photos below the fold… don’t miss it!

Jirishanca Chico

Still on the ridge, looking at Jirishanca Chico.

 huayhuash carhuacocha Family

A campesino family poses for a sunset portrait at Laguna Carhuacocha. This family has a tough life, but lives in one of the most spectacular places on the planet. I am going to mail this print back to Peru in hopes that I can have it delivered to them.

camp at carhuacocha

Morning at our camp at Laguna Carhuacocha.

Siula cloud

The eye of Mordor?

Jack & Yerupaja

Yours truly on a high pass below Yerupaja, the second tallest mountain in Peru at 6617m or 21,709 ft.

Trapecio and Burros

Trapecio mountain and some burros on holiday.

huayhuash hot springs

As if the trek wasn’t awesome enough, about halfway through we camped next to some hot springs. Here’s a long exposure of the hot springs pool with the stars above. Speaking of stars, they are incredible in the Cordillera Huayhuash, far from any major city lights. Also, for the first time I can ever remember, I could see both the Big Dipper and the Southern Cross at once.

Puscanturpas and Burros

Hauling our stuff.

cuyoc Roger

Roger hikes past another glaciated peak.

hiking in the Huayhuash

Roger getting higher…

huayhuash trekkers

Team portait at the top of Punta Cuyoc, 5000m, 16,400 ft.

cuyoc camp

Our camp below Puscanturpa Norte.

hiking Siula, Huayhuash

Over San Antonio pass, hiking towards Siula. Our group had decided unanimously the previous evening to spend an extra day on the trek so that we could explore the Siula valley, the scene of Joe Simpson’s epic adventure as documented in the book and film Touching the Void.

Laguna Jurau

Laguna Jurau.

Breakfast below Siula

Open air breakfast!

Huayllapa village

We hiked into the remote village of Huayllapa to spend a night and restock supplies. With no road and no cars, this town was a pleasure to visit, and the local kids were even more eager to see us gringos.

kids in Huayllapa


Happy Birthday Felix!

Happy birthday, Felix! Let’s party!!!

Dancing in Peru

Shake it!

Claudia and Yerupaja

Claudia and Yerupaja.

Roger hikes in the Huayhuash

Roger pauses to take in the view.

Jirishanca Jack

Looking forward to a swim in Laguna Jahuacocha.

Jirishanca Camp

Our last campsite of the trek, at Laguna Jahuacocha. Jirishanca towers above.

Huayhuash trekkers portrait

The whole crew! Top row, left to right: Susanne & Claudia (Germany), Erik (guide), Erik (USA), Felix (cook), Roger (Canada), Catalino (arriero), Josephine (Canada). Bottom row: Hanan (Israel), Jack (USA).

Llamac farm

After a 6,000 foot descent into the valley, we got to the village of LLamac. Here’s a sweet looking little estate on the outskirts of town.

door in Llamac

Every travel journal needs the obligatory photo of a crusty door. Here it is. Enjoy.


44 thoughts on “Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit

  1. Absolutely breathtaking scenery, Jack! Looks like an awesome place for an 11-day get-away! The family portrait in front of the beautiful lake is heartwarming! So is the “Caramelos” image! Thanks for sharing this experience with us!


  2. Stunning photo’s Jack. You are truly blessed with an eye for photography and to be able to travel and see the sights you have seen.

  3. These make a great commentary to your stunning landscape images, Jack! I thought Silua valley sounded familiar and now I know why, that’s awesome that you got to see the location where it all happened.

  4. You really got some stunning shots, Jack. At this point, it’s hard to pick a favorite…I guess I’ll just have to look at them some more. Glad you were able to have this adventure to share with us.

  5. Two words: “Master Photographer.”

    Congrats for doing the impossible – a spontaneous trip to Peru – don’t ever live a scheduled life, amigo!

  6. Very good photos ! I made this trek two weeks ago, but compleatly alone, without arrieros, and I wasnt able to spend so much time in some places waiting for good light. My photos are still in the memory card, and I’m still in Huaraz.
    Giving “caramelos” to the children is a EXTREAMLY BAD practice, because in this way you are teaching them to beg. Having been in Ausangate mauntain in Peru and in Cordillera Blanca, I saw almost in every village this annoing practice even from old people.

  7. Hello Itilien, congrats on doing the trek solo! Very impressive. I agree about the caramelos; our friend that gave them the caramelos felt bad afterwards and then cut up an apple to share with them in hopes of a healthier diet. Nevertheless, these kids were cool kids, we had fun taking photos of them racing each other and they’d get a kick out of seeing the pictures on our cameras. We never gave caramelos or chocolates to the kids that asked for them. Anyhow, I still thought this photo was cute.

    Funny you mentioned the old people as well; I too was surprised once in LLupac when a friendly-looking old lady begged for caramelos, then put on the goofiest puppy-dog face when I said no.

  8. In Bolivia is a different, because there are almost no turist in the mountains. Only near Illimany I met some children asking for caramelos or chocolate. I used to answer: If I give you, then what I will eat in the mountain ?. Usualy this confuse them 🙂 If I´m returning from the mountain I´m saing – I don´t have more food.
    Yes, you are right, sometimes these children are realy nice. In Cordillera Blanca I camped near small vilage and one boy helped me to put my tent, then appeared two more kids and watched me cooking rise, it was interesting, because we are speaking about different things. Finaly, the boy went home with my lighter :))
    Actualy, Huayhuash circuit is not that difficult if you are well aclimatised. Walking with about 20 kilos for me is normal now, after 3 months above 3500 m in Bolivia and Peru. I´m reading and watching your website from 2007 and I know, that you are used to hike solo in the mountain, so I was a bit surpired to see that you are walked in group with burros, but actualy, having only 3 weeks in Peru you havent had time for good aclimatisation and going in this way seems normal.
    I don´t know what camera have you used this time, it seems that is not the olympus, because the pictures are not 4:3, but it handled very well the extreamly big dinamic range. I´m traveling for 8 months in South America and thats why I´m using nonSLR camera (lighter and easier), but with quite big sensor – Sony R1. But taking pictures in these mountains is quite a problem because of the big contrast…even when I´m using 3 stops ND soft gradient filter.
    If you are interested, you can look at my blog – there are many photos, most of theme are nothing special, but there are some good… but everething is not processed and is just from JPEG, because I don´t have possibility to use RAW (too much time on the road with too less memory cards, and too big RAW files).

  9. Amazing pix, as usual – what else would we expect at this point?

    What a bonus for the diverse collection of people in your group – they can get a bag full of great memories every time they go to your site!

  10. breathtaking photos!

    I am on my way to Huayhuash
    together with a Peruvian friend we were going to
    hike the huayhuash circuit alone…
    but just in case may I ask which company you went with?
    🙂 thnak you!

  11. Wow! What stunning scenery you’ve managed to capture in these pictures. I’m heading to Peru next year and thinking about doing this trek. Could you also tell me what company you went with? Thanks B

    1. Hi Ben, thanks for your compliment! I went with Galaxia Expeditions, who was recommended to me and who I heartily recommend as well.

      Note that unless you’re on a tight schedule, you can pretty much just show up and join whatever group is next on their schedule. That’s what I did. Worked out great.

  12. Absolutely Incredible! Your images are spectacular and now you have me wanting to take this trek. Galaxia’s website says $35 per day! Really?

    All your images are really inspiring. Thanks.

  13. Awsome!!Jack great job. I was in peru july of 2009 trekked to choquekiraw.I plan on the huayhuash trek in a couple of years.Email any advise you can give me please!!

  14. hi Jack,
    great pictures!
    after more than 25 years it’s time for me to go back here, to the Andes, and do the treks I skipped last time… (Huaywash is one of them).
    for a while I thought to do the Annapurna in Nepal, but your pictures are calling me…
    I might bug you with some questions to your e-mail address, if OK by you,

  15. It is really beautiful. I will go there in August, looking forward very much!!! In 2007 I already did small Santa Cruz trek. Thanks for sharing these pictures with us.

  16. Hi Jack, i am a peruvian living abroad, i just want to thank you for such a beautiful picks of my country. Sometimes we peruvians have never see so much beauty. thank you for let others know the beauties our land has.

  17. Ur article, “Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit | Mountain
    Photographer : a journal by Jack Brauer” ended up being well worth commenting on!

    Really needed to announce you actually did a great job. Thank you ,Herman

  18. Hey, Mr. Jack-

    these pictures are amazing. I am currently in Peru and looking at doing a similar trek from Huaraz. Which tour was this? Not that I am looking to copy anyone experiences, but this looks kind of ideal 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing– breathtaking and inspiring!

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