Trip duration   1 day (approx. 9 hours)
Trip type  day hike
Grading   easy
Places visited   Lake Queshquecocha, Lake Jarapococha, Puya Raimondi Forest
Highest point  Lake Jarapococha 4200m
Distance   10km return
The secluded Queshque Valley is located in the southern section of the Huascaran National Park, some 10km east of the village of Catac.
Superb mountain vistas of the Cordillera Blanca’s jagged summits, including those of Mount Cashan (5716m), Shaqsha (5703m), Huantsan (6395m) and Uruashraju (5722m), can be enjoyed on the drive up, and occasionally herds of vicuñas can be spotted grazing on the vast expanses of grass in the valleys of this part of the range. The Queshque valley is home to extraordinary vegetation: the Puya Raimondi, a rare plant that can reach up to 12m in height and is only found in a few isolated valleys of the Andes.
This relatively easy hike starts near Lake Queshquecocha, a magical place where birds of all sorts can often be observed in large numbers and at close range. The beautiful snow-capped peaks of Mount Pongos (5680m) and Mururaju (5688m) rising high above the turquoise waters of the lake are another beautiful sight. We also have the chance to see a second lake, Lake Jarapococha - bordered by the region’s largest forest of Puya Raimondi.
This hike gives hikers the rare opportunity to visit some of the Cordillera Blanca’s most pristine and seldom visited valleys.
We leave Huaraz at 8 am and travel towards the southern section of the Huascaran National Park. Once we reach the village of Catac, we follow a dirt road that leads up to the national park. We can enjoy fabulous views of the needle-shaped peak of Mount Shaqsha (5703m), and other impressive peaks of the Cordillera Blanca on the way to the little-visited Queshque Valley. We also have the rare opportunity to view an endangered South American camelid - the vicuña, which roams in the high-altitude grasslands that surround the road. On entering the Queshque Valley, we have our first sight of the rare Puya Raimondi plants that grow on the sides of the valley. After an hour of driving we reach the trailhead situated in close proximity to the beautiful Lake Queshquecocha. A short walk brings us to the shores of the lake from where we can usually spot several species of birds, including Andean Geese, Andean Gulls, Yellow-billed Pintails, Mountain Caracaras and Puna Ibis. As we walk along the lake’s shores we enjoy the spectacular scenery of snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes and extraordinary Puya Raimondi plants that open in front of us. An hour later, we reach a second glacial lake – Lake Jarapococha – which offers stunning views of the Trancaruri valley with waterfalls, icy peaks and the biggest forest of Puya Raimondi of the region. We have lunch in this idyllic spot surrounded by the puyas, which if in bloom offer the extraordinary spectacle of numerous hummingbirds feeding on the nectar of its thousands of yellow flowers. While making our way back to the Queshque Valley, we enjoy fabulous up-close views of the puyas and glacial lakes. At around 3 pm we reach the vehicle that drives us back to Huaraz. We arrive in town at around 5 pm.