The group flights leave London this morning and arrive in Lima in the evening. We will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel in the upmarket residential district of Miraflores.
We drive to Huaraz, the main town of the Cordillera Blanca region; the drive is quite long and tiring (420km in about 9 hours), but increasingly scenic as we enter the mountains; the journey includes the crossing of the 4100m Conococha Pass and we should arrive in the early evening. Huaraz, at 3028m, is dominated by Peru's highest peak, Huascaran (6768m).
We head south from Huaraz to the town of Huamarin (3250m) and continue along a winding road with breathtaking mountain views. We start our acclimatisation hike towards Lake Huilcacocha (3725m), where we can observe a wide variety of wild ducks and enjoy a spectacular panorama of the snow-capped peaks of Huandoy, Huascaran, Chopicalqui, Hualcan and many others. After a short break we descend 100 meters then start climbing a broad trail past a small lake to a viewpoint with excellent views of the Cordillera Blanca, the Santa River and the city of Huaraz. Our descent takes us towards the villages of Purucuta (3650m) and Quetscapu (3436m), and we meet the road, where our bus will take us back to Huaraz.
After breakfast we head north through Yungay, a town rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1970, to the Llanganuco Gorge, a glacial valley with incredible views of Huandoy, Huascarán and Chopicalqui. We have lunch near one of the two lakes and if time and weather permits a hike in a side valley called Quebrada Demanda, with great views of Mt Chacraraju. We return to Huaraz in the evening.
This morning we drive to Chiquian, where we visit an alpaca textile factory before continuing on via the towns of Llamac, Pocpa and Pallca to Cuartelwain, where we camp for the night.
We start the day with the Cacanampunta Pass (4690m), at the northern end of the range. It is the Continental Divide, after which the waters now flow to the Amazon and the Atlantic. This is a favourite spot for the Andean condor, and we may well spot the huge birds soaring over our heads. From here a rough descent through a multicoloured landscape leads us to a beautiful flat and grassy campsite at Janca (4250m) not far from Lake Mitacocha, below Ninashanca, Rondoy, Jirishanca and El Toro. This is a short walking day to aid our acclimatisation, but for those still feeling energetic we can take the short walk to the lake in the afternoon.
Today's pass, the Carhuac (4600m) is longer but not too steep, with splendid views of Yerupaja, at 6634m the highest mountain in the Huayhuash. Descending, we finally arrive at the rim of the hanging valley, from which we look down on a lake of deep turquoise. Our campsite below Lake Carhuacocha (4100m) faces an incredible vista of peaks and hanging glaciers: a view that proves you do not need 8000m peaks to have the most inspiring mountain scenery.
A rest day to explore this stunning area around Carhuacocha with its hanging glaciers and turquoise lakes. A walk around the lake will give you a taste of the vast array of birds found in this area. We are surrounded by the splendour of Yerupaja, Siula, Jirishanca and Carnicero.
A stiff climb over the Punta Carnicero (4615m) past the twin Atocshaico lakes. There's a stupendous panorama of the eastern side of the range on our right, dominated by Carnicero, the 'Butcher', Siula (6653m) and Jurau. We camp close to the tiny settlement (one single house!) of Huayhuash.
Ascending to our next pass, the Portachuelo (4750m), we see the rounded ice domes of the Cordillera Raura to the southeast. Crossing the continental divide again we pass Laguna Viconga and ascend to camp at 4450m beneath Puscanturpa and Cuyoc. There is an optional but highly recommended short walk to local hot springs in the late afternoon.
The next pass, the Cuyoc, is the highest and most spectacular of the trek, at around 5030m (according to most maps). From the top, though it can be windy and cold, there are exceptional views on all sides. We descend steeply to the wide-open pampa of Guanacpatay valley, and camp by a river at 4350m.
Descend and then turn up the Sarapococha Valley to reach lakes Jurau and Sarapococha. We camp at 4350 in Calinca valley, not far from Joe Simpson's base camp at about 4400m, before his climb of Siula Grande. Splendid views of Sarapo, Carnicero and Trapecio.
A rest day to explore this dramatic area of glaciers and lakes. We are surrounded by the splendour of Yerupaja, Siula, Sarapo, Rasac, Trapecio and Carnicero.
We retrace our steps down the Sarapococha valley and drop to warmer climes of the cultivated valley of the remote village of Huayllapa, with beautiful views of the waterfalls. In the afternoon we climb steeply again to spend the night at 4350m at Huantiac, a high grazing meadow under the shadow of Diablo Mudo, the 'Dumb Devil'. This is probably the hardest day, with a tough afternoon, and often hot weather.
Crossing the sixth pass, the Tapush, a short climb to 4750m, we descend to a wide valley past Susucocha lake to camp in the valley of Ancocancha near a forest of Quenoal trees at 4450m.
On to the steep and scree-covered Yaucha pass, at 4800m. A short optional extra climb to the summit here reveals a viewpoint from which, on a clear day, there are magnificent views of the highest peaks of the Huayhuash range and long-distance panoramas to the peaks of the Cordillera Blanca. Here is another good spot for sighting condors. A long descent brings us eventually to Laguna Jahuacocha, widely held to be the scenic gem of the whole range.
Jahuacocha lies at 4100m beneath the glacier-covered west faces of Jerupaja, Jirishanca, Rasac, Rondoy and el Toro. By day and by moonlight it is an indescribably beautiful place; there is abundant bird life (Puna ibis, Andean geese and more) around its shore, and many fine walks around and above it. The lake and rivers hold plenty of trout and we hope to catch enough for dinner. We spend a rest day here, although this extra day is partly to allow for delays en route.
We ascend steeply to the final pass of Sambunya (4750m), with stunning views back towards Lake Solteracocha. We descend to camp in Matacancha, enjoying our last views of the range (4100m).
We return by road to Huaraz. This is a full day's drive (approx 7 hours plus stops) through some stunning scenery north of the Huayhuash range and to the south of the Cordillera Blanca. We arrive in Huaraz mid-afternoon for a hot shower and evening meal.
We return by road to Lima, arriving in the early evening. The final night in Peru is best spent in one of Lima's excellent restaurants (optional).
Those on the group flight will be transferred to the airport this afternoon for the return flight to London which departs in the evening and arrives the following day.
The group flights arrive in London this afternoon.