Huaraz is mainly known for its great mountains and renowned trekking. But there is another side to it that we love: spending time with the surrounding communities, getting to know the local culture and traditions and learning about their ways of living.
In this tour, you will head to Vicos, which is a community close to Huaraz. It is recognized as one of the original Quechua communities, which is why many anthropologists study this case. Despite the inevitable influences of modern times, the Vicosinos still live a very traditional lifestyle, which makes you feel like going back in time when coming here.
In our hearts, Vicos owns a very special place. In this community, the RESPONSible Travel Peru project started to take shape. Guido and Pablo, the founding directors of RESPONS, met here in 2002 and have been close friends ever since. By going on this tour to Vicos, you will surely understand why Guido stayed in Peru for such a long time.
Even though we think that this three-day tour is your best option to visit Vicos, we also offer a cheaper three-day Vicos experience which excludes the Pachamanca on the third day. Or, if you’re short on time, you can also find a two-day excursion to Vicos here.
One thing is for sure: all of the Vicos have very high Sustainability Scores. You will have a great positive impact when participating in them! Are you intrigued about the most sustainable tours we offer? In that case, have a look at all of our tours with a Sustainability Score of 60 or more!
After breakfast (at 08:00 am), you will be picked up from your hotel in Huaraz to go to Vicos on public transportation. Please note that the cost of the transportation is not included: make sure you have some small cash on you.
Upon arrival in Vicos, you will walk between 30 and 90 minutes (depending on the lodge and everyone’s pace) to the lodge where you will stay for the next three days. During the hike, your local guide (Spanish speaking only) will explain everything you see and will answer all of your questions (a translator is optional).
When you arrive at the house, your host family will welcome you with medicinal herb tea made of plants that you will learn to recognize in the field. You will get to know your family while preparing and baking bread in the adobe oven. After the baking is finished, you will try the bread fresh out of the oven. A lunch made from local ingredients will be waiting for you in the kitchen.
After lunch, activities depend on your preferences. It’s possible to participate in some agricultural activities, hike a bit more around the community, visit an artisan in his workshop, explore archaeological sites or simply relax by your lodge with a book, enjoying the tranquility and landscapes of Vicos. The decision is all yours; please coordinate everything with your hosts.
Dinner generally consists of soup and/or a sweet porridge, accompanied by bread and/or (native) potatoes; it all depends on the season: your host family eats what earth provides them.
At night, they will share certain stories, legends and myths of their community with you, and if you are interested they might teach you some Quechua, too! After this great dinner and some talking, you will get a good night’s sleep in the lodge next to the house of your local host family.
You will start the day with a campesino breakfast: soup or sweet porridge, corn and/or potatoes, possibly cachangas (a kind of fried pancake) with honey, quinoa juice with apple, or bread with cheese.
After breakfast, you will start your hike towards a glacial lagoon. Depending on the location of your guesthouse, today’s destination will be either the Lejíacocha or the Llaqshac lagoon. Both lie at an altitude of about 4.600 meters (15.000 feet). Lejíacocha is at the foot of the snow-capped Copa peak, and Llaqshac is below the glacier that carries the same name.
During the hike you will pass by some beautiful viewpoints and you will have a continuous view of the snow-capped peaks around you, such as the Huascarán, which is 6.768 meters (22.200 feet) high. At these heights you will also come across quenual forests (native Andean tree) and possibly see deer, vizcachas, foxes or condors.
You will have a break at the lake to have lunch and enjoy the beautiful surroundings before heading down again. During the walk down you can visit prehistoric rock paintings.
Upon your return to Vicos, you will have some time to freshen up and relax.
You will have dinner with your host family before going to sleep to regain energy for the last day of your stay.
Please note that if the hike is too heavy for you or some people of your travel group, there are also more intermediate options. Those lagoon hikes are quite strenuous, especially of you are not well acclimatized.
After a revitalizing campesino breakfast, you will get some free time. Depending on your preferences and the season you can go fishing, help with an agricultural activity, simply observe the grazing animals or visit the school.
Instead of a regular lunch on the last day, you can participate in a Pachamanca ritual with your host family. You will help with the preparations (packing up the meat, constructing the stone oven and covering it with the right combination of herbs, grass and soil). The musicians will invite you to learn about their instruments and music. The local people, your new friends in this beautiful mountain landscape, will want to celebrate your visit by dancing the ‘Huayno’ with you. This experience will be a great ending to your visit to Vicos, an enchanting community that, thanks to your visit, has benefitted from sustainable tourism development.
In the afternoon, your guide will bring you back to the main road, where you will take public transport back to Huaraz. The estimated time of arrival to the city is between 04:00 and 06:00 pm.
Our whole journey in community-based tourism started with Vicos! This place is at the core of the huge community-based tourism network we represent nowadays. That alone is a reason to visit them 😉
As it is an off-the-beaten-path destination developed by an NGO, visiting Vicos means you’re leaving a great impact, both financially and socio-culturally, to the community as a whole and several of its families in particular. You will learn about the way of living of these families and participate in their daily activities. A great way of getting to know Peru!
Over the past twenty years we have seen the many positive impacts tourism has brought to Vicos. Contact us if you’re interested in knowing more.
In a bus or car you arrive to Huaraz in approximately 7 to 9 hours. From Huaraz, you will have to take another transportation to Marcará (35 min approximately) and from there you add another 20min to Vicos. When booking this tour, your local guide will pick you up from your hotel in Huaraz so you don’t have to worry about finding where to leave from: you will only have to pay for the chosen type of transportation.
The elevation reaches from 3.100 m.a.s.l. (10,000 feet) to 4.600 m.a.s.l. (15,000 feet)
No, they don’t. Still, most travelers don’t find it necessary to take a translator from Huaraz. A translator will always influence your experience and you will see that with direct communication (with hand, feet, Google Translate and whatever else necessary) offers a more intimate exchange with your hosts.
It depends on the season when you visit but the average temperature ranges between max 27° / Min -4°.. Some early mornings it can freeze a little. Find more info about climates in Peru in our blog.
If you suffer any allergy o dietary restrictions, make sure to inform us during checkout and we will take the necessary precautions.
We try to keep this experience private so that you can make the most of your stay at Pablo’s family. And in almost all cases you will be the only ones there! But it might happen that other people will be in Pablo’s homestay at the same time as you. In that case, you will have your meals together with the other visitors. But you will have private rooms and a private guide (Pablo or another member of the community) for your different excursions.
For questions about booking a tour, prices, preparation for your trip, health and safety or other themes, please check our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you can’t find your question & answer, email us and we’ll add it!
In Vicos lives our dear “hermano” Pablo, the man with whom everything started for us in RESPONS. He has been a leader of the community for a long time, both officially and unofficially, because he is a wise man despite not being an elder. He has fought corruption and illegal mining, organised huge villeage clean-ups and leads many community initiatives ranging from sustainable production to tourism. Thanks to Pablo, your stay in Vicos will be well organised, full of inspiration and create long-lasting memories.