Though Laguna Churup was unknown to us before arriving in Huaraz, it quickly became a favourite of ours. In fact, we’d go as far as to say it’s one of the most impressive day hikes we’ve ever done and certainly the best ‘bang for buck’ in Peru.
Laguna Churup – What You Need to Know
- You’ll start from Pitec (which is 3,850m above sea level) and finish up at Laguna Churup which sits at 4,450m above sea level – that’s 14,600ft which is higher than many people exit the plane whilst skydiving!
- The hike takes approximately 3 hours each way, with one large stair section at the start and two rock free-climbing sections, both towards the top.
- Due to its elevation gains (of over 500m) high altitude and free-climbing components, this is a relatively challenging hike. With a reasonable level of fitness though, it is attainable by most people.
- Throughout the hike you’ll be treated to incredible views, including mountain ranges, Mt Churup, Huaraz and of course, Laguna Churup (where you’ll see some of the clearest water you’ll ever come across)
- The challenge of the free-climbing makes this hike feel like a real adventure!
- This hike is easily (and cheaply) organised from Huaraz, without the need for a guide.
- It will help you warm up for Laguna 69. Be warned though, this hike is much more serious than some would suggest when naming it an ‘acclimatisation’ hike.
- This is a high-altitude hike which feels significantly different to hiking at sea level… it’s physically hard work! That’s not to mention the possibility of headaches, dizziness, pins and needles etc. from altitude sickness. Abel gave us a bottle of oxygen (which we didn’t end up needing, but better safe than sorry), and we had plenty of sweets (which we definitely munched on) and also paracetamol, all to help keep altitude sickness at bay.
- If you’re hiking alone, be extra careful on the rock walls. Help will be a number of hours away should you come unstuck and evacuation won’t be an easy task.
- When you get to the last rock wall, be sure to turn to the right (over the river and rocks), rather than trekking to the left, up the bank.
- Comfortable, broken-in hiking boots
- Warm clothes incase the weather turns
- Plenty of water and food
- Hiking poles (should you wish)
Can I Hike Laguna Churup Without a Guide?
Though parts of the track are particularly steep, the hike itself is fairly well marked and even if you take it slow, you’ll have plenty of time to make it up and back before dark.
If you’re a less confident hiker/climber, you may like to consider a guide but in our experience it really isn’t required. To be safe though, take it easy on the climbing sections and if possible, complete the hike with someone else.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a guide to join you, we recommend the team at Caleb Expeditions.
How Much Does it Cost to Hike Laguna Churup?
Though there are other hikes in the area that are more impressive (like Laguna 69 – wow!), in our opinion, no other day hike in South America compares when it comes to offering both value for money and incredible views.
Entrance to the Laguna Churup hiking track will set you back PEN10 (USD4.60/NZD6.60) and transport also starts at around PEN10 each way (dependant on the number of people in the van).
How to Get to Laguna Churup Using Local Transport
If you decide not to hire a guide, you’re able to jump in the local colectivo heading through to Pitec for approximately PEN10 per person in each direction.
To make use of the colectivo, you’ll need to meet the van on the corner of Av. Agustín Gamarra, just around the corner from Caleb Expeditions. We were there at approximately 7am but the van waited until almost 8am in the hopes of others arriving. In the end, as there were only three of us we negotiated for the driver to take us (without any more waiting) and agreed to pay PEN15 each (in each direction).
As agreed, he waited at the start of the trail and gave us a ride back into town in the afternoon. Good thing too and it absolutely bucketed down on the way back!
If by chance you miss your ride back, you are able to continue walking down the hill by road until you get to Llupa (about another hours hike) to catch another colectivo. We didn’t see many running though (none in fact whilst we were there), so we’d recommend trying to make the agreed time work.
There is little doubt in our minds that Laguna Churup is one of the most incredible day hikes in all of South America. With beautiful views, enough challenge to make you feel like you’ve really achieved something and bargain-basement pricing, this hike is really worth telling people about.
Do us a favour though and don’t tell everyone though… we were lucky to have the track to ourselves that day and we’d quite like for it to stay just as untouched for you!
If you just can’t keep details of Peru’s most affordable (and amazing) day hike to yourself, why not pin this post?