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Cordillera Blanca & Huascarán NP

Huascarán & Chopicalqui Peaks

In Spanish, cordillera is a mountain chain or range and blanca means white. It sounds generic, until you get there and see the perennial white glacial peaks.

The Cordillera Blanca extends for 200 kilometers (124 mi) in a northwesterly direction. It includes more than 30 peaks over 6,000 meters (19,690 ft) high and 722 individual glaciers.

Huascarán National Park

It’s named after Huascarán peak (on the left in the photo above) which is 6,768 m (22,024 ft) high. The park was created in 1975 and was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.

It has 712 glaciers, 434 glacial lakes, 27 rivers that drain to the Pacific and 17 that drain to the Amazon. It also has more than 30 peaks over 6000m (19,685ft) and more than 200 over 5000m (16,404ft).

There are 900 species of plants, the most famous of which is the Puya Raimondii. The park also has 137 species of birds, including the Andean condor and many hummingbirds. Of the 25 species of mammals, the vicuña is one of the rarest. (I spotted vicuña at Pastoruri, below). The park also has 4 species of reptiles and 2 species of amphibians.

Vicuña at Pastoruri Glacier

Entrance fees to Huascarán National Park are s/30 per day but if you camp overnight you have to pay for two days.


These are serious mountains that require experience in mountaineering and professional guides to get to many places. There are some day hikes that any hiker can do after they acclimatize to the altitude.

Cordillera Blanca Hikes

Cordillera Blanca Mountaineering

Cordillera Blanca Treks

Cancaraca Lake

Aka Laguna Cancaragá

Text © Heather Jasper

Images by Heather Jasper