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Hey, we’ve all been on a budget before, especially during long-term travel. If you’re a backpacker trying to save a few bucks, this is definitely the post for you.
Our Huaraz day trip this weekend to Wilcacocha Lake only set us back $1 for two people! Yes, seriously.
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, check out my guide below for a super cheap Huaraz day trip to Wilcacocha Lake!
Step 1: Eat Breakfast
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 (ps skip this step if you’re really super broke, and pack a meal to enjoy on the hike instead.)
Step 2: Transportation
Ok, the next step on your Huaraz day trip is to find the collectivo to take you to the start of the trail.
You can grab one of these vans at the corner of Raymondi and Hualcan streets, near the central market and easy walking distance from the Plaza de Armas. Stand on the corner and wave down any passing collectivo 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 out is about 15 to 20 minutes, and the marked trail were you get dropped off is clear… it’s actually just a dirt road to the top.
Step 3: Hike to Wilcacocha Lake
We climbed most of the way to Wilcacocha Lake on the dirt road, but there is a trail you can take for a faster hike. 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 also 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 or two hours. Don’t miss it! It’s fairly large and obvious and leads to the lake in about five minutes.
Step 4: Enjoy The View!
The 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.
Step 5: Head Back Home
It is much easier to see the trail on the descent. 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 collectivos heading back to Huaraz (we only had to wait a minute before one passed us). The collectivo again costs one sole each, and will return you to the city in about 20 minutes.
What to Pack on Your Huaraz Day Trip to Wilcacocha Lake
This trip is pretty short and doesn’t require much. Here’s everything I took along with me and I recommend you do the same!
- Backpack (I use & love the day pack from my Osprey Farpoint bag)
- Water bottle (I use the Vibrant thermos)
- Sunscreen because 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
- Comfortable hiking boots (I always hike with my Timberland boots)
- Cash for all the collectivos
All in all, the Huaraz day trip to Wilcacocha Lake takes about 4 to 5 hours from start to finish… and only costs $1! It’s a great easy hike to get acclimated to the high altitude before the four-day Santa Cruz trek or the beautiful one-day hike to Laguna 69. Plus, it has a beautiful view from the top.
A Huaraz day trip to Wilcacocha Lake is definitely worth adding to your bucket list in Peru!
PS looking for more to do in the city? Learn everything you need to know about climbing Nevado Mateo, one of my absolute favorite day trips from Huaraz (and my birthday present to myself!)