A tough walk, a bit of rock scrambling, a beautiful lake and a great adventure.
After using our acclimatisation time to do some research online, and asking at the information site, we decided to go this one alone and not book into a tour. It turned out to be a piece of cake! We caught the colectivo from Huaraz at the spot near the bridge at 7am (this is the time the 1st van leaves), we waited for it to fill up and were on the road at approximately 7.30am. Now you can either go to Llupa for 5 soles and walk to Pitek up a lovely scenic track (which takes around 45 minutes), or you can be lazy like us, and pay 15 soles to go all the way to Pitec (which also takes around an extra 45 minutes). Our driver offered to pick us up again from Pitec at 2.30pm and he said he was happy to wait around if we took a little longer, and because we were still feeling the effects of the altitude we were happy to pay the extra.
The drive itself was really pretty, through farmland and past a lot of the traditional adobe houses, and ladies in their vibrant Quechuan dresses and hats, working the land with their hands. It took around 40 minutes to Llupa plus 45 to Pitec so we arrived around 9am to start the walk.
Once at Pitec the beginning of the trailhead is sign posted. The first 2kms is up a very clear path made up of big steps, we took our time and rested a lot. At 4000m above sea level stairs are even more challenging than normal so plenty of rests and water to stay hydrated are key. After around an hour and a half you reach the camp, this is where it gets fun. The walk turns into a steep and challenging rock scramble. The best option is to stick to the left where you can use the rubber hose covered chain to get up. There are a couple of different options so don’t worry that you have chosen the wrong path, just go the way you feel will be best. This part is not for the faint hearted!
At the top of the falls you will be greeted by the beautiful Lake Churup! Unfortunately for us it was cold and cloudy, but if the weather is on your side you can continue up to Lake Churupita which is a smaller lake around 45 minutes further. If you’ve been to Churupita please do tell us about it in the comments!
We mucked around at the top, eating, chatting and trying to snap pics between the clouds for about an hour and a half before heading back. We knew our guy would be waiting for us at about 2.30 so we were able to take our time coming back down. The whole round trip took US about 5 and a half hours but we had a Russian guy in our colectivo jump out at Llupa and even walking, he beat us to Pitec! He raced past us on the way up, then passed us again on his way back down while we were still on our way to the camp. So this is a generous time frame.