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Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
ICE OF HUANDOY (4000m) - No transport required
Upon entering the Rajururi Gorge (Quechua for 'Ice Behind’) the immensity of the Huandoy peaks & narrow vertiginous cliff faces leave you in awe. Continuing up towards the ice on a winding trail through sections of indigenous Quenual* forest you´ll be skirting a crystal clear glacial mountain stream. After a last push up a sandy zig zagging trail, you'll be rewarded with the view of the base of the plummeting waterfall, blowing around in the breeze down the 700m towering grey granite cliff. At the bottom of the waterfall you'll find the lowest ice in the Cordillera Blanca; a huge debris field of glacial debris that carves off of the cliffs above you - at regular intervals**. This is where the incas harvested ice for generations & where their descendants still do today. This is probably one of the reasons that the ruins of Keushu are where they are, as Ice was probably considered a luxury good - much like today. You'll most likely not see another soul during your entire day’s trekking.
Quenual is the highest residing tree on earth.
** If the waterfall is not running get to a safe distance up the ridge to the left and await the impeding avalanche of ice/death.
Need to Know
10 soles per person Park entry. Risk of ice avalanche... KEEP CLEAR
Bring water treatment option to reduce weight, plentiful clear sources.
Ice Falls of Huandoy- The lowest ice in the Cordillera Blanca.
No transport is necessary, or possible.
Entrance: 10 soles Each
For moderate walkers with a couple of nights acclimatisation at the lodge at 3500m this trek takes 2 and a half hours up and 2 hours down.
In the dry season anything from an 11am start is acceptable, although the later you start - the hotter it will be. As with all treks in the rainy season we recommend the earliest start that you can manage.
This trek takes you past the lake and ruins of Keushu to the lowest Ice in the Cordillera Blanca, where the locals harvest millennia old ice for snow cones/Slush Puppies.
START: From the restaurant/bar at Llanganuco Lodge walk up the steps and turn left around the fir trees. Skirt to the right of the volleyball court down to the car track for about 30m, head straight on along a faint singletrack trail and through the scarce remains of the defensive walls of the Keushu ruins (3500BC). Stay on this trail heading down through the Necropolis of the ruins, as it gets down to a flat area it bears left and runs parallel to a slightly raised ancient irrigation ditch, do not cross this irrigation ditch for the moment, but walk with the ditch on your right hand side. After a short period the path becomes a car track and as it rises sharply, passes through a wall and BEFORE it bends to the left, you MUST head right through some bushes- into a clearing, walk up through the clearing and UP amongst the trees, until you reach a faint trail in the eucalyptus trees, just before an irrigation ditch. Turn right on this trail, do not cross the irrigation ditch until you find a narrow stone slab bridge. Cross this bridge.
As you cross the little bridge note the residential zone of the ruins on the lateral moraine directly ahead of you. Now follow the well established trail to the right that heads diagonally up the lateral moraine with an ancient irrigation ditch parallel just below you.
As you are reaching the top of this lateral moraine there will be just two switchbacks before you appear on the top of the moraine at a largish boulder. Good views, look back the way you have come, give yourself a pat on the back. Continue along the path for another 20m and walk across a small concrete bridge over the concrete irrigation ditch on your right. Turn left along a doubletrack trail and walk into the Rajururi valley. The concrete irrigation ditch now running parallel with you on your left.
After 30 mins your will arrive at a concrete bridge by a stone hut, you may need to pay 10soles here if it is manned, please make sure you get a ticket/BOLETA or your name goes in the book, otherwise the attendant is pocketing your cash.
Here is a large stone wall crossing most of the valley, with a small gate and a sign saying that it is prohibited to cross. It is NOT prohibited. This sign is aimed at Ice thieves. Scramble over the wall.
Walk up this trail until it reaches the sandy scree slope at the back of the valley, here the trail splits into many sections but don`t be perturbed- all roads lead to Rome. Take it easy up this scree slope always taking the most gradual route most to your LEFT hand side - otherwise you are likely to burn out and/or get lost.
When you reach the top of this scree (4030m) you'll come out on a slight ridge, from where you can see the ice debris of Huandoy directly ahead of you and slightly below. There may be a small lake there with some ice floating around in it.
Depending on how recently the ice has fallen it may be white, i.e. ice has fallen recently. Or it may be covered in a layer of granite dust making it grey and hard to distinguish.
Going down to the Ice - you do so at YOUR OWN RISK, this is an area of HIGH RISK. If the ice were to carve off the cliffs above you as you are taking photos on the ice - you'll not be able to run fast enough!
8 people who were carving out ice blocks for making Slush Puppies - snow cones, suffered such a fate on the 14th of O
Flora & Fauna
Quenual trees, Tsacpa bushes, hummingbirds.
History & Background
Ice debris has been left out of the National Park as not to create a precedent.