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The Carabaya trek is offered by very few companies, making it one of the most off-the-beaten-track and challenging treks in the region. This is a high altitude trek and you should be well acclimatized.
One of the most adventurous treks around takes you into Carabaya, a remote and incredibly scenic province with unmatched opportunities for true high-altitude exploration. We offer this Carabaya Trek starting in Puno or in Cusco, but if you want to depart from Cusco, the trek will be extended with one extra day, making it a total of 10 days / 9 nights.
During this high altitude adventure you’ll pass over four high mountain passes at more than 5,000m (16,404 ft), including the famous and unequaled Condor Pass at 5235m (17,175 ft)!
Immerse yourself into this spectacular and unique adventure and don’t miss the opportunity to trek one of the truly off-the-beaten-track available in the Cusco area.
If you depart from Cusco, the following are also included:
For our full packing list for treks in the Andes, see What to Bring.
Our blog How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru will also give you some great tips for how to get ready for your trek, before you even leave home.
Our whole trekking team know the Carabaya region like the back of their hand! They are some of the warmest, endearing and wonderful people you are ever likely to meet.
Our guides are all licensed and receive regular training. They share their experience, professionalism, knowledge and enthusiasm with our passengers on every trek.
Get to know our team!
We leave Puno early for the 4h drive to the Carabaya Trek trailhead. There’s plenty to see as we pass rock gardens, giant bromeliads and locals tending their crops and animals. We’ll look down into the stupendous river canyon of the Corani River before turning off onto a back road with incredible views of the glacial valley that takes us to Aimaña. Here we’ll stop to check out the amazing rock formations before driving another 10 minutes to our first campsite, Veloyuc. With any luck we’ll spot vizcachas (Andean chinchillas) and views of snow-capped Quelqaya peak.
Departing From Cusco
The trip is 10 days / 9 nights if you depart from Cusco. Day 1 of the Cusco itinerary is as follows, with the rest of the itinerary being the same.
Day 1 Cusco-Puno
We pick you up around 8am in our private car and begin heading south towards Puno.
The trip to Puno takes about 10 hours and includes a buffet lunch. Our first stop will be Pikillacta (a pre-Inca city whose name means ‘Place of the Flea’ in the Inca language, Quechua!) where you can stand in an Inca gate that demarcated Collasuyo, one of the four quarters of the Incan empire known as Tawantinsuyo. After this, we continue on to the colonial church of Andahuaylillas, the ‘Sistine Chapel of the Americas’; it has to be seen to be believed! The spectacular Inca ruin of Raqchi is another highlight, and the incredibly ancient remains of Pukara round out the day.
Tonight, your meal is included at a Puno restaurant, and accommodation in a Standard Hotel. You should enjoy an early night and hot shower before setting out for the Carabaya Trek the next day!
After an early start we’ll head out east, spending five or six hours gently ascending 600m (1970 ft) through open valleys, past immense rivers and more bosques de piedra (rock forests) to the small valley where a scenic campsite near some hydroelectric infrastructure awaits.
Today we climb to and camp at our first high pass, Chimboya, at 5122m (16,800 ft). It takes about six hours to complete the ascent. At the pass we’ll enjoy well-deserved views of the Vilcanota range against the endless backdrop of the main Cordillera of the Andes, accompanied by curious llamas, alpacas and vicuñas.
We continue to enjoy spectacular views of the glacier-topped Vilcanota range as we make our way through a varied landscape of swamp and open pampa (flat grasslands) to Hacienda Mates, our campsite for the night in a sheltered valley surrounded by steep slopes.
Today a rewarding 7h walk first brings us up to a breathtaking altitude of more than 5000m (16,400 ft). From here we’ll have equally breathtaking views of the Nudo del Vilcanota (“Vilcanota knot”) and our first glimpses of the mysterious lakes, Sibinacocha and Cascara. We’ll see pink flamingos and vicuñas as we cross the Pucamayu river and make our way to our campsite at Cascara. Here we can fish in the lake and observe migrating ducks and other wetlands birds.
Another big pass awaits us, Yayamari, at 5100m (16,730 ft). From here we’ll experience the most stunning views yet with lakes, nearby towering rock outcrops, many massive peaks, and the gorgeous Sibinacocha lake, to which we will descend to camp.
For more adventure, check out our Yayamari Scramble Extension, a non-technical climb up Cerro Yayamari.
After a morning walking through the gentle pampas of Sibinacocha, we’ll ascend about an hour to the important Condor Pass at an astounding 5235m (17,175 ft). From here we’ll see magnificent views which include the even higher, ice-covered Acero Pass (5500m / 18,050 ft), before descending for half an hour and walking another hour or so over gentle terrain to our campsite at Killita.
This morning we’ll walk around two hours to Paso Falso (False Pass) from where we’ll take in the magnificence of the towering Ausangate, the highest peak in the Cusco region and its most important apu (mountain deity). Then it’s an afternoon of ups and downs. First, we’ll descend to the community of Ccampa, then climb back up to Ccampa Pass (5080m / 16,666 ft), then descend again to Ninapara where we’ll spend the night.
We start our last day with an up and a down on our final walk past the awesome Ausangate, and three hours down to Pacchanta where we’ll enjoy lunch and a soak in the local natural hot springs! After lunch we’ll drive for about four hours back to Cusco, feeling extremely accomplished and proud and of completing this stunning Carabaya Trek!