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The hike to Wilcacocha Lake is probably one of the cheapest day trips you’ll do in all of Peru.
If you’re a backpacker trying to save a few bucks on hiking in Huaraz, this is definitely the post for you because our Huaraz day trip to Wilcacocha Lake only set us back $1 for two people!
Because of that, we got to spend the day checking out some amazing mountain scenery and still had money to spare to enjoy a nice dinner and some craft beer in Huaraz afterwards.
If you’re interested in doing the same, use this guide to plan a super cheap Huaraz day trip to Wilcacocha Lake – in only five steps!
Enjoying breakfast and the start of October on a warm Saturday morning at Trivio
Step 1: Eat Breakfast before your Huaraz Day Trip
The first thing we did this Saturday to prepare for our Huaraz day trip was fuel up with a filling breakfast at Trivio.
We slept in and then walked to Trivio to enjoy a late meal for only $5 each.
Fresh orange juice, coffee, eggs, bacon and pancakes sitting outside in the sun… yes please. After we were full, we set out on our trek to Wilcacocha Lake. (Obviously you can skip this step if you’re really super broke, and pack a meal to enjoy on the hike instead.)
The views along the hike were more than enough to keep us motivated on the Wilcacocha hike
Step 2: How to Get to Wilcacocha Lake
The next step on your Huaraz day trip is to find the colectivo (shared van) to take you from Huaraz to Wilcacocha Lake.
You can grab one of these vans at the corner of Raymondi and Hualcan streets (click here to see it on Google Maps). This stop is near the central market and in easy walking distance from the Plaza de Armas.
Stand on the corner and wave down any passing colectivo van marked for Route 10 or Route E.
Squeeze in (it will probably be packed) and pay 1 sole / .25 usd each for the ride. Just make sure to tell the driver you want to get off at Wilcacocha Lake and he’ll let you know when he stops at the trailhead.
The ride from Huaraz to Wilcacocha Lake is about 15 to 20 minutes, and the marked trail were you get dropped off is clear – it’s just a dirt road to the top!
Our pay off for the (honestly, pretty easy) Wilcacocha hike
Step 3: How to Hike to Wilcacocha Lake
We completed most of the hike to Wilcacocha Lake on the dirt road, but there is a trail you can take for a faster trip. Walk along the uphill road and you’ll (maybe?) see a trail lined with greenery on the right side of the road.
However, we missed it.
There is also a trail that winds up on the left side of the road. If you get to a school, you’ve gone too far, the trail should be on your left before it (we missed this as well).
Finally, if you’re dumb like us and walk most of the way up the road, you’ll find a final trail on the right side after about an hour and a half to two hours of walking.
Don’t miss it!
This final turn-off is fairly large and obvious and leads to Wilcacocha Lake in about five minutes.
The best part of travel in in Peru is the canine friends you’ll make along the way
Step 4: Enjoy The View from this Huaraz Lake!
Wilcacocha Lake is small and just… ok. The real draw to this climb is the mountain view.
From Wilcacocha Lake you can see the spine of the Cordillera Blanca range with eight or nine snowy mountain peaks, and the city of Huaraz laid out in the distance. It was absolutely stunning.
We packed a lunch to enjoy at the top, and were promptly joined by plenty of stray dogs looking for (and getting) a bite of the action.
Enjoying the sunset from our balcony in Huaraz after a hike well done 🙂
Step 5: How to Get From Wilcacocha Lake to Huaraz
It is much easier to see the trail to Wilcacocha Lake on the descent than it was on the way up. Follow it about halfway down the mountainside, where it meets back up with the road.
Return along the road to the main street, when you can cross and wave down one of the many colectivos heading back to Huaraz (we only had to wait a minute before one passed us).
The colectivo again costs one sole each, and will get you back to Huaraz in about 20 minutes.
More mountain views, the Cordillera Blanca mountains are beautiful even under a blanket of clouds.
What to Pack on Your Huaraz Day Trips
This is one of the most low-key day trips from Huaraz but you should still always hike prepared. I recommend bringing a small day pack on the Wilcacocha hike with:
- A large water bottle
- Sunscreen – Huaraz is at high altitude and it’s easy to get burned
- Jacket for layering in case it gets cold
- Snacks and a packed lunch
- Extra treats for the stray doggos
- Sturdy hiking boots
- Cash for the colectivos
This is the hiking gear I can’t like without:
|TimberlanD Women's White LeDge MiD Ankle Boot,Dark Brown,7.5 M US||Prime||Buy Now|
|Vibrant All in ONE Travel Mug - Tea Infuser Bottle with 2 Piece Steeper Strainer MESH Filter - Insulated HOT Coffee Thermos - Cold Fruit Infused Water Leak Proof Double Wall Stainless Steel 16.9 oz||Prime||Buy Now|
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|Osprey Packs Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack, Jasper Red, Small/Medium||Prime||Buy Now|
Use This Guide to Hike to Wilcacocha Lake
All in all, the hike to Wilcacocha Lake takes about 4 to 5 hours from start to finish and is one of the easiest and cheapest Huaraz day trips.
A Huaraz day trip to Wilcacocha Lake is definitely worth adding to your bucket list in Peru!
Ready to go? Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Huaraz and then explore accommodation like unique stays on Airbnb or the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in the city.
This article is part of the Hiking in Huaraz series. Read the rest below:
Then, explore the complete Peru Series for more insider tips on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in the country.
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