Huaraz is known mainly for its great mountains and renowned trekkings but there is a side B little frequented and that’s to get into the local culture with its authentic communities, ancient traditions and sustainable livelihoods.
Vicos is recognized as one of the original Quechua communities and this distinction makes it one of the most studied communities by anthropologists. Despite the inevitable influences of modern times, the Vicosinos still live a very authentic lifestyle where you can feel being thrown back in time.
In our heart Vicos has a privileged place as it is where the RESPONSible Travel Peru project started to take shape. Guido and Pablo have been close friends since 2002. This is your chance to see what made Guido stay in Peru for so long; book your Vicos experience now and get immersed in the Andean history!
Even though this three-day tour is your best option to visit Vicos, we also have 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. And if that isn’t enough; contact us for a tailored experience in the Huaraz area!
After breakfast, you will be picked up from you hotel in Huaraz for the trip to Vicos in 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 that Vicos offers. The option is all yours; please coordinate 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, because 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 of 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 at about 4.600 meters of altitude. 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, at 6.768 meters 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.
You will arrive in Vicos again. Here you will have some time to freshen up and relax.
Dinner with your host family before a good night of sleep to help regain energy for the last day of your stay.
Please note that if the hike is too heavy for you or some 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 have some free time to spend. Depending on your preferences and the season you can go fishing, help with an agricultural activity, graze with the animals or visit the school.
Instead of a regular lunch, today you’ll participate in a Pachamanca ritual, together 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 will invite you to celebrate your visit by dancing the ‘Huayno’ with them; your new friends in this beautiful mountain landscape. It will be a great ending of 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 a public transport back to Huaraz.
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.
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.