Trip duration  half a day (approx. 5 hours)
Trip type  Half-day hike
Grading  easy to moderate
Places visited  Lake Wilcacocha
Starting point of hike  Chiwipampa
Finishing point of hike  Chiwipampa
Highest point
  Lake Wilcacocha 3700m

Distance  8km return
Lake Wilcacocha is a small lake situated at 3700m, high in the Cordillera Negra, where flocks of ducks like to swim and cows, sheep, donkeys and horses munch peacefully on the surrounding grass.
The hike up to the lake passes several small Andean villages, where colourfully dressed local people still follow a traditional way of life.
The highlight of a visit to Lake Wilcacocha is the breath-taking panoramas from a hillock by the lake, with superb views of the Cordillera Blanca, including the perennially snow-capped peaks of Mount Huascaran (6768m), Peru’s highest summit, Huantsan (6395m), the range’s third highest summit, Shaqsha (5703m), Cashan (5716m), Tumarinaraju (5668m), Pongos (5680m), Churup (5495m), Ranrapalca (6162m), and Vallunaraju (5686m).
This spectacular view of the ‘White Range’ is one of the best in the region.
The lake is located only 10km from Huaraz. It is an ideal first acclimatisation hike, and can easily be done in half a day.
We leave Huaraz and drive southwards along the main road. A mere ten minutes later, we reach the trailhead at Chiwipampa. Almost immediately, the trail starts ascending steeply towards the village of Santa Cruz, which is located in the Cordillera Negra. We walk on upwards past traditional Quechua homes and fields where the local people cultivate potatoes, wheat, beans and corn. After approximately two hours of hiking, we reach the picturesque lake and are granted magnificent views of the Cordillera Blanca. Our efforts are amply rewarded with some of the most impressive panoramic views of the region. A rapid descent brings us back to the main road from where we catch our transport back to Huaraz.