Perfect three-day trip from Lima, Peru for a challenging hike at high altitude.
I was volunteering in Lima in the summer of 2015 with IVHQ, and looking for a weekend adventure. A Google search led me to the Huaytapallana Glacier, a day hike from Huancayo. I recruited three hiking enthusiasts, and we booked an excursion in early August with AndiAmerica by email.
It is a 7 hour bus from Lima to Huancayo. Our group of volunteers chose to take an overnight bus on Saturday to have one day to acclimatize before the hike on Monday. Reputable bus companies are Cruz del Sur, Oltursa, and Movil Tours. Note that you can purchase bus tickets online, they are about 26 USD each way, but the prices might be cheaper in person. Our reserved seats were at the very front of a double-decker bus. I was able to sleep, however my travel companions were distracted by the driving!
We arrived in Huancayo around 6 am on Sunday and checked-in at the AndiAmerica guesthouse. The price was 35 USD for two rooms with two beds each, including breakfast. The hostel is on a floor of their family home. It is private and clean.
On the lookout for Sunday activities, our group walked to the main square, Plaza de la Constitución. Inexpensive day tours were leaving from the plaza and we hurriedly signed up for one. It was after boarding the bus that we realized our mistake – the guide only spoke Spanish, and my friends could not follow along! We visited the Huarihuilca ruins, some churches, Ñawinpuquio lake, and walked up to the Arwaturo ruins. I would recommend booking an English tour in advance if needed! AndiAmerica offers tours but the guide Tino was on a jungle excursion that day.
We left for the glacier trek at 8 am on Monday. The cost was 80 USD for us four, including an English-speaking guide and private car. Bring 2 litres of water, lunch, snacks, and layers. It was difficult hiking at altitude, and one of the volunteers turned back near the start. The trail has views of the Huaytapallana mountains and alpine lakes, and reaches an elevation of 5100 m (16,700 ft). It is a mix of rock and dirt terrain. We had the option of walking on the glacier but that felt unnecessary, and we were unsure if we would be able to climb onto it easily. The hike ended with a stop at the trout restaurant by the trailhead. Later that night, we took a bus to Lima and made it to our volunteer placements on Tuesday morning.
I would highly recommend booking with AndiAmerica. Our group was offered lower prices than currently advertised, possibly because it was a relatively last-minute booking for a weekday, and the prices have increased since 2015. You may be able to book a cheaper glacier trek once in Huancayo but I am happy we went with Tino!