Biking and hiking to Laguna Churup; Peru

Even the shortest of loops into Peru’s Cordillera Blanca unearths impossibly beautiful treasures…

So, while awaiting the arrival of my mum, I headed up one of the dirt roads out of Huaraz, hiked to nearby Laguna Churup, and then circled back down again into town…

Taking to the dirt roads – and winding climbs – that abound in the Cordillera Blanca.

I camped the night on one of the terraces at the Way Inn Lodge – an idyllic setting – so I had somewhere to stash my bike during the hike the next day.

Otherwise, I’d have gladly pitched my tent in this perfect pasture nearby…

I sat and watched the sunset with Kiwis Ben and Anna, waiting until the last light of the day clipped the very top of the peak, throwing the storm clouds into iridescent colour.

The next morning, I chowed down a bowl of porridge and I set out on the hike.

Since I lost one of my sandals during last week’s river crossing, I donned some stylish, bowling-style purple trainers, salvaged from a hostel bin.

I packed light and clipped along at a good pace, overtaking a group acclimatizing for a long trek ahead, to get a good lead on the pack.

Which meant I had Laguna Chirup, 4400m, to myself….

Well, almost. A couple of straggly mutts kept me company on the walk.

I lingered half an hour, chomping on locally made cheese and bread. As the first hikers arrived, I began the scramble back down.

Then I was back on the bike to continue the loop round to Huaraz.

Darkness and Light.

I nosed about for alternative ways down to Huaraz from the main dirt road. After all, you can’t beat rounding off a day like this with a serving of singletrack…

The need to know bit:

You can camp at the Way Inn Lodge for 15 soles, which includes as much tea, coffee and filtered water as you can guzzle down – and access to a massive library of esoteric books. Food there is tasty but expensive if you’re on a long-term budget – you can always bring your own and cook. This is also the place to come if you’re interested in an ayahuasca retreat.

From the Way Inn Lodge, the round trip to the lake is said to take 4-6 hours. Being acclimatised, it took me 1.45 hours up, a half hour at the top (chilly, bring layers) and perhaps an hour and a bit down – which includes a fun little scramble.

It’s around 15km to the lodge, along a dirt road, climbing some 600m above Huaraz – up to about 3600m. Some shortcut possibilities add in steeper, rockier sections if you’re travelling light. Then it’s around 22km to complete the loop, climbing first beyond the lodge, then bearing left at the top, to return back down the other side – the road passes the Lazy Dog Inn. Keep your eyes peeled for footpaths on the way down and ask locally for options – chanquinan is the Quechua for singletrack.

31 thoughts on “Biking and hiking to Laguna Churup; Peru

  1. gypsybytrade

    Cass, As always, if I wasn’t here I’d be there. Please tell me you went swimming; I’m mid-air, diving into that otherworldly lake. You’re obsessed with the ice cream that I have so readily, but I want your secret azure swimming hole in the Blanca…


    1. gypsybytrade

      Oh, Divide “day one” on the fatties today over Fleecer Ridge. It’s stupid fun– still a little heavy on the climbs, but I can descend blindfolded at warp speed.

      Krampus continues to fill my mind.

        1. While Out Riding Post author

          Exactly. Nothing wrong with the Microshift ones, but a shame not to have the friction option.

          A question – does that mean I can run a 7 speed (plus spacer) with the Dura Aces?

          My only potential issue with 7 speeds (and 8 speed, for that matter) is finding cassettes with 32T or 34T that don’t have that ‘megarange’ gap jump. I definitely appreciate having a few extra teeth on a 29er.

          I’d like to shed my outer chain ring at some point. I think I’ve used it a handfull of times in the last couple of months – and replace it with a guard.

      1. gypsybytrade

        Good idea on the guard. With the riding you are doing, the middle ring is perfect. For a broader range of terrain, a slightly large “middle” stands in nicely. For now, you seem to be riding either up (granny), or down (brakes).

        Yes, a 4.5mm spacer will allow a 7sp cassette to be fit to a modern hub. It will index with an 8sp shifter if you wish as the spacing between cogs is about the same, although I’m not sure if your DA shifter is 8 or 9sp. MegaRange is weird, but not that weird.

        Have you seen old Suntour Alpine Gear freewheels with 38t cogs? Now that’s a crazy jump.

      2. Gary

        I didn’t realize Microshift thumbies wouldn’t friction shift. The issue with 7 or 8 speeds is you’re limited to a 32 tooth max cog unless you’re willing to do Mega-Range, I’m not. 9 speed is hard to beat for our needs, IMO. I was really happy with the 2X9 (22-36 rings) for the Divide. Your front derailleur may have issues shifting it though.

        1. While Out Riding Post author

          I think I’d like a 22/34 at the front, and a 11-34 at the back.
          Is the reason my front mech might not play too well with a 2×9 because the limit screws would stop it coming inboard enough?
          I’m happy with 9 speed (when I can find it on special!), but I like the idea of being able to fit 7 and 8 speed if needed – particularly if touring in parts of the world like these.

      3. Gary

        The problem with the derailleur is that if you lower it enough to have the proper adjustment the bottom of the cage hits the chainstay on most bikes. This won’t allow the cage to be low enough and may not shift well. On the VooDoo I cut the bottom of the cage off and then epoxied the bottom piece back on a bit higher up. The material is too hard to drill, I’d hoped to use pop rivets to hold it together. One of the new 2X10 mechs would work and Shimano makes an SLX (I think) front designed just for 2X9 but then you have the mud shelf issue again. With thumbies it could shift adequately with your mud fighting mech, just have to try it and see.

      4. gypsybytrade

        MegaRange never bothered me, but with a triple I’ve never been obsessed with the specifics of cassette gearing, except for selecting the appropriate range. Gary, Couldn’t you just leave the FD in the same place it is now, even with the outer ring removed?

      5. Gary

        Nicholas, it would seem that you could just leave the derailleur as is, it hasn’t worked well for me though. I use thumbies, and recently, twist shifters so I can trim it too. Lowering the derailleur definitely helps with the shifting from small to big. I’d guess if Cass used a 22-34 as opposed to a 22-36 it would help with the shifting also.

        We have a couple from Denmark staying with us tonight. They started from Banff on June 2nd but for some reason we never ran into them on our trip. Typical Europeans with 4 big panniers and H-bar bags. Great folks though.

      6. gypsybytrade

        The Ortlieb tourists probably send e-mails to their friends describing the fat-tired vagabonds who don’t carry any equipment and sleep out under the stars. Gary, you wrap yourself in scraps of building material at night, right? Off-brand Tyvek?

        Great folks though…

      1. While Out Riding Post author

        I’m ashamed to say I didn’t take the plunge. I’ve swam across a lake at 4300m in Northern India – Chandra Tal. On that occasion, I got a cold within – literally – 5 minutes of getting out, despite bundling myself in my sleeping bag. It was pretty darn chilly up there at Churup too. The sun only pierced the clouds a few times.

        Next time…

    2. gypsybytrade

      As for the FD, if 22-34 works in a triple it would work the same without the outer ring. I don’t consider the job of the FD to be particularly difficult, but I’m not the FD on Cass’ bike.

  2. Gary

    Your photos are always great but these are amazing!

    I assume the knee is healed up? I forgot to ask, did the bike go under water?

    1. While Out Riding Post author

      Thanks Gary. Knee is doing much better. Still don’t have full movement, but it feels fine when cycling. Bike was safely stashed on terra firma at the time. I figured I’d do a preliminary crossing to check the depth and strength of the current. Just as well…

  3. Susan Moberly

    LOVE the photos of Laguna Chirup, especially that straggly doggett… and the sunset image you enjoyed with the Kiwis… it all looks quite other worldly and I’m sure Joanie (Mum, that is) will love being there with you. I know she misses you… give her a welcome HUG fro me and lashings of local vino if there is such stuff… to guzzle down… PLEASE take some photos of her just for me… I know she’ll complain bitterly and say ‘NO front shots’ (as we ladies do) Okay… must get on with my day house hunting again… snore… Thanks for your blog and the photos… always gems… take care and enjoy your lovely Madre… hugs X

  4. John


    I stumbled upon your blog somehow from long distance hiker blogs … I’ve been following for a couple months and have really enjoyed your photos. Stunning. I’m recalling my tour through Ecuador and Peru in 2002. I stopped in Huaraz, meaning to only spend 10 days for the Cordillera Huayhuash circuit (recommended!), and ended up staying for 5 weeks.



  5. Pingback: Bike ‘n Hike, not Hike ‘n Bike; Peru « while out riding

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