Pastouri Glacier and Puya Raimondi


We had been in Huaraz a few days and decided to take a day tour organised through our hostel to Pastouri Glacier and the Puya Raymondi.  The glacier sits at an altitude of 5,240 meters so before embarking on this trip you need to be somewhat acclimatised.  The Puya Raimondii (Queen of the Andes) is ancient, very rare and the largest species of bromeliad in the world that grows to height of 10 meters.  It is a relative of the pineapple and native to Bolivia and Peru and restricted to growing in the high Andes between 3000 and 4800 meters which makes it pretty special! What makes it even more special is the plant only flowers once in the plants lifetime which can take 80 to 150 years! To be there when one actually bloomed would be amazing.

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A Puya Raimondi plant

Our tour picked us up at 8 am in the morning for our drive to the southern end of Huascarin National Park (Carpa Section).  We were the only English speaking tourists on the 16 seater bus, the rest were locals or Spanish speaking.  Lucky an American/Mexican was on the bus so she translated some of what the guide was saying although he could speak some English.

Not far from Huaraz we stopped at a roadside restaurant for some coca tea and breakfast for those who wanted it.

The park itself was devoid of all trees, it reminded me somewhat of the Scottish Highlands.  We were rewarded with views of +6500 meter snow capped peaks  with a foreground of pastoral grass lands thick with grazing sheep.  At night the shepherds herd the sheep into stone corrals while the shepherds take shelter in grassy huts.

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Lots of sheep!
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The corrals and shepherds huts

In the valley we first stopped at Patococha Lake followed by Pumapampa natural carbonated mineral springs which seemed to seep throughout the surrounding landscape.

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Patococha Lake
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Mineral springs
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Mineral springs
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Mineral springs

Eventually we came across the natural wild garden of Puya Raimondi and spent some time observing and photographing them. They were pretty impressive especially with the backdrop of mountainous landscape.  The plants  were much larger than we thought ,they made us feel like dwarfs! I’m so glad we got to see these rare and special plants. None of the Raymondi we saw were in bloom which was a pity as it would have been a marvellous spectacle.

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Little me against the huge plant!
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What can I say about his photo ;-)!

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Our minibus followed the windy road up through the valley which afforded us some great views. As we climbed higher up to the glacier, the weather was a little different, more threatening and much colder, in fact there was snow on the ground in places.

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The road we had just driven up

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From the glacier car park the walk to the glacier takes about 40 minutes at a slow pace up a gently sloping path, it would want to be gentle at this altitude! The glacier itself was at 5,240 meters.  If you didn’t want to walk then there are horses available for hire!

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The well paved track to the glacier

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As we neared the glacier it was like we had just teleported to Siberia, the weather just turned nasty and we were suddenly in a blizzard!  It was damn well cold but we were not going to let it stop us from enjoying the glacier, we just rugged up tight and pushed forwarded.

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A small tarn we saw on the walk to the glacier
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The weather changed!

It was a little annoying that we couldn’t see the glacier in full sunshine but at the same time it was kind of surreal amongst the sheet of white fluff pouring out of the sky. We walked up to the glacier and enjoyed some reflections and the lake with its patches of floating ice, it wasn’t too bad, we still managed to see it and get some good photos.

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The sleet and snow was coming down!

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When the cold and wet wasn’t fun anymore we made our way back down the well paved trail, the views ahead of us of the Cordillera ranges were quite stunning and the closer we got to the minibus the more the weather improved._MG_7402 (Large)

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Views of the Cordillera ranges from the car park

Once everyone was back on board the bus we made our way back enjoying the scenery of the park before stopping at the same road side restaurant for a late lunch. We were back in Huaraz  late afternoon.  It had been a great day out and we were glad we had the opportunity to see both the Puya Raimondi and the glacier.. I highly recommended doing this day tour if your in Huaraz.

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The scenery driving back through the park

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Facts and Tips

  • Booking a Tour – If you are wanting to do this trip then there are plenty of agencies in Huaraz offering this tour which departs daily. You can also book through your hostel/hotel like we did. Expect to pay around 45 Soles plus 10 Soles park entrance fee.
  • Acclimatisation – Before going on this tour you need to acclimatise, spend a day or two in Huaraz which sits above 3000 meters and do other tours like Laguna 69 (4,600 meters).  Take plenty of water with you to drink.  If you don’t want to walk up to the glacier then you can rent a horse taxi!
  • Dress Warm – The mountains create their own weather, it might be sunny one minute and a blizzard the next! Pack warm clothes, at 5,240 meters it’s going to be cold anyway even if the sun is out.
Visited: May 2014

If you have enjoyed the photos and would like to see more! then the complete gallery can be viewed in the Trip Photos

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