Mount Churup is northeast of Huaraz, in the Cordillera Blanca region of the Peruvian Andes. The mountain peak is 5,495 metres (18,028 ft) high, and little more than 1000 metres below the summit sits Lake Churup. This mountain pool is known for its scenic views and crystal clear water. We decided to go for a days hike and see the lake for ourselves.
We set out from Huaraz early and caught a minibus to Llupa from the corner of Av. Agustin Gamarra and Las Americas. I say minibus, but due to lack of demand, the replacement service was a man and his Toyota Corolla. He charged us 5 PEN each, apparently the same price as the bus, and dropped us in Llupa. Here we began our walk to Pitec where the trail to Lake Churup begins. We reached the trailhead by 9:40 am.
The path was easy to follow, clearly marked with white painted stones. It was a relatively easy walk, although there was a small rope scramble just before we reached a campsite and waterfall under Lake Churup itself. It had taken two hours to get this far, so we rested for a while before the final push.
The last part of the climb from the campsite to the lake is a real ‘climb’ and felt quite dangerous to a novice like me. There were large steel cables bolted to the rock face to help, but it was still tricky. This climb may be a bit too much for some, and you should consider this before you set out. If the weather had been bad, we would not have attempted it.
Finally, we reach the top of the climb, and the Lake came in to view. It didn’t disappoint. The mountain reflected in the clear still water looked stunning. We stayed for a while and took many photos and a short time-lapse video before beginning our descent.
By the time we got back to Llupa, it was 5:45 pm. There were no signs of any minivans. We asked around, but nobody seemed sure about the bus times, so we continued walking down towards Huaraz. As the sun set, I felt a twinge of panic as I realised there were no street lights in these small villages. I didn’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere after dark. Our phone signals had now returned (we had no reception higher than Pitec) so we called a taxi and continued down to meet him. Not long after we hung up, we arrived in a village called Unchus. Here we found a queue of minivans leaving every ten minutes for Huaraz, costing 1PEN. Well, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but we had to wait for our taxi which arrived shortly.
Most guidebooks say Lake Churup is a two-day hike. It can only be done in one day if you get transport up to Llupa or even Pitec. If you do decide to do the walk in one day, don’t dawdle, it’s a long and tiring hike.