Cordillera de la Viuda (Cordillera la Viuda) is a scenic mountain range in the Lima region of Peru. It’s easy to visit these mountains by doing a day trip from the city of Lima. Basically, from Lima, you’ll initially travel through the town of Canta, before passing the town of Cullhuay. You’ll then arrive at the mountain range, where you’ll also explore Laguna 7 Colores (Lagoon of 7 Colours) and Laguna Chuchun, which all technically fall in the Canta Province.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting Cordillera de la Viuda on a day trip from Lima. After talking about the mountain range itself, we’ll discuss tour options and their typical itineraries. We’ll then detail the highlights of a Cordillera de la Viuda tour, before covering what to pack and where to stay in Lima.
We hope you find this guide useful. For details about another epic day trip from Lima, read our guide on Cañon de Autisha.
Cordillera de la Viuda
Cordillera de la Viuda location: this mountain range is located over two departments – Lima and Junin. Although, most of the range is found in the Canta Province, which is located in the department of Lima. The range is actually the source of the River Chillon, which eventually empties into the Pacific Ocean. This range, which forms part of the Central Andes, is around 100km northeast of the city of Lima. The drive time from downtown Lima to this mountain range and the surrounding Laguna 7 Colores and Laguna Chuchun, all located in the Canta Province, is around 4–5 hours. Given it’s location in the Andes, you can expect breathtaking scenery at this mountain range.
History of the Cordillera de la Viuda: in English, this mountain range translates to ‘Widow’s Mountain Range‘. Also known as, simply, ‘the widow’, the origin of the mountain range’s name is uncertain. The name could come from its black colour. Or, perhaps, it could come from a legend passed down from a pre-Inca civilisation, involving the death of a God named Pachacamac (Pacha Kamaq), who was wife of mother-earth Pachamama.
Now you know a little more about the mountain range’s location and history, let’s look at how to visit it.
Cordillera de la Viuda: How To Get There
The easiest way to get there is by doing a Cordillera de la Viuda tour. These day trips use a minivan to drive you from the city of Lima, through Canta and Cullhuay, past Laguna Chuchun and finally arrive at Laguna 7 Colores, which is at the foot of the mountain range. Other than driving yourself, utilising the roundtrip transportation on offer with these tours, is the most straightforward way to get there.
It’s also possible to get there independently. But, this involves hiring a taxi driver once you arrive in Canta, from Lima. So, we don’t think it’s worth the trouble. You may as well just do a tour from Lima. That way, transport is organised from start to finish. FYI – a driver will cost around S/25–40 ($6–10USD).
But, if you’re the adventurous type, or want to avoid a group tour, you’ll just need to catch a bus or colectivo from Lima to Canta. Costs for the bus are usually around S/10 ($2.50USD). Costs for the colectivo are approx. S/15–20 ($4–5USD). You can catch a bus or colectivo from Lima to Canta at Kilometre 22 of Tupac Amaru in the Carbayllo District (see map below). To get there from downtown Lima, take the Metropolitano bus to the Naranjal Terminal. From there, take the Carabayllo Alimentadora bus and tell the driver to drop you off at Kilometre 22 of Tupac Amaru. Otherwise, catching an Uber or taxi, to Kilometre 22 of Tupac Amaru will be much quicker and simpler. This could cost around $10USD.
Of course, by far the easiest way to get to Cordillera de la Viuda is by doing a tour.
Cordillera de la Viuda Tours
There are many full day Cordillera la Viuda tour options available in Lima. Although, a Cordillera de la Viuda full day tour isn’t a typical tourism activity for foreign visitors. This day trip is actually more popular with locals. So, you won’t find as many traditional travel agencies in Lima offering this tour. Instead, you’ll find online tour agencies, prominent on social media, promoting cheap weekend group tours to locals. Thankfully, our time in Lima coincided with the weekend. So, a cheap group tour of Cordillera de la Viuda was a viable option for Beck and I. Booking with Viaja Ahora Peru, we paid S/79 ($20USD) per person. Basically, you’re paying for roundtrip transportation and a Spanish-speaking guide.
There’s many activities jampacked into this day tour. Let’s look at these below.
Typical Cordillera de la Viuda Tour Itinerary
Here’s the typical itinerary for a Cordillera de la Viuda Tour.
- 5:00am: pickup from San Borja
- 5:40am: pickup from Plaza Norte
- 6:00am: pickup from Los Olivos
- 8:00am: breakfast and quick tour of Santa Rosa de Quives
- 9:45am: Cochapampa Viewpoint
- 10:45am: drive past Cullhuay
- 11:30am: drive past Laguna Chuchun
- 11:45am: arrive at Laguna 7 Colores, at the foot of Cordillera de la Viuda, with views of Laguna Chuchun
- 2pm: lunch and trout farm in Huaros, near Cullhuay
- 4pm: break in Canta
- 7:30–8:30pm: arrive back in Lima; drop-off at Los Olivos and then San Borja, followed by Plaza Norte
As you can see from the program, you’ll spend a lot of time in the mini van. This definitely isn’t ideal. If anything, it’s just tedious. But, this is to be expected with any day trips from downtown Lima to areas of natural beauty in the region.
Now, let us briefly detail our experiences during the day trip.
Santa Rosa de Quives
After an early pickup in Lima, we made our way into the Canta Province. First stop – breakfast and a quick tour of Santa Rosa de Quives. Admittedly, Beck and I packed our own breakfast. So, we just ate outside of the designated restaurant and waited for the tour to continue. At least, there was beautiful mountain surrounds to keep us occupied. Once the tour continued, our guide led the group to a viewpoint of the area. Here, the dry and rocky mountain landscape became even clearer.
Not too far away, we stopped at another viewpoint in the Canta Province, in the department of Lima. At the Cochapampa Viewpoint, you’ll enjoy great views of the towns of Canta, Obrajillo and San Miguel de Viso. They are all small towns positioned in the valley and surrounded by mountains. You’ll find a few short dirt trails here meandering to slightly different viewing areas.
Once you’ve finished at the viewpoint, the drive continues towards the town of Cullhuay.
Cullhuay is a small town in the Huaros District, Canta Province, Lima Region. Similar to the other small mountain towns, Cullhuay enjoys splendid natural surrounds. Cullhuay is around 3,625 metres above sea level and is home to about 250 residents. Admittedly, we didn’t even stop at Cullhuay. We basically just passed by. Anyway, as you pass Cullhuay, your journey through the Canta Province continues towards Laguna Chuchun and Laguna 7 Colores.
As you gain elevation, you’ll eventually get to Laguna Chuchun (Laguna Chuchon). It’s quite a large lake, that’s 4,465 metres above sea level. You’ll actually pass Laguna Chuchun on your way to Laguna 7 Colores. Basically, you won’t stop at Laguna Chuchun. But, from the foot of Cordillera de la Viuda, near Laguna 7 Colores, you’ll enjoy fantastic views of Laguna Chuchun. Unfortunately, for us, the weather turned a bit foul when we arrived at the viewing area for Laguna Chuchun. So, our photos don’t do this place justice.
Laguna 7 Colores (Canta)
Once you arrive at Laguna 7 Colores, AKA Laguna de Calancay, in the Canta Province, you’ll pay a S/5 ($1USD) entry fee. After a short climb, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of Cordillera de la Viuda. This mountain range measures approximately 5,500 metres above sea level. Indeed, we were expecting snow-covered peaks given their height. But, when we visited in June, during the dry season, there were only a few peaks, sparsely dusted in snow. These scantly snow-covered peaks were even more difficult to see once cloud cover dominated overhead.
The overcast conditions also meant that Laguna 7 Colores wasn’t at its best. Usually, with a healthy dose of sunshine, you can expect this lake to pop with many different shades of blue and green. But, sadly, we didn’t enjoy this spectacle as the sun went MIA. Hopefully, when you visit Laguna 7 Colores in the Canta Province, you’ll have better luck than we did!
Also, as you enjoy your views, your guide will get your group involved with an activity that includes making an offering to the land. It’s an interesting cultural experience. Certainly, any opportunity to give praise and thanks to mother nature is welcome in our eyes.
Whilst you’re at Laguna 7 Colores in the Canta Province, it’s also possible to take a boat ride. This will cost around S/5–10 ($1–2.50USD).
Cascada de Pomora
After visiting Laguna 7 Colores, you’ll drive a short distance through the Canta Province to a quaint waterfall. Cascada de Pomora isn’t huge or overly spectacular. But, it’s a pleasant little drop, that’s worth scoping out.
After chasing waterfalls, you’ll begin the return journey from Cordillera de la Viuda to Lima. Not far into the drive, you’ll stop for lunch in Huaros, after passing Cullhuay. Here, you’ll see a row of restaurants, mainly selling fish. This isn’t too surprising given there’s a trout farm, called Piscigranja de Huaros, located behind the restaurants. The farm is actually a well-known supplier of trout throughout Peru.
You’ll find trout farms are fairly commonplace in Peru. There’s actually another prominent trout farm in Ayacucho next to the Pools of Millpu. We enjoyed trout for lunch during our day trip to the Pools of Millpu. But, on this occasion, we were happy to eat our packed lunch.
After checking out the trout farm, it’s time to continue the journey back to Lima; but not before a final break in Canta.
Canta, Lima Region, Peru
Canta is the capital of the Canta District in the Lima Region of Peru. Initially, you’ll stop at the colourful ‘Canta’ sign. There, at a small stall, you can try free cheeses, artisanal yogurt, honey, flatbread and other delicacies. A little further along, you’ll stop in the town centre of Canta, where you can explore the area. After this quick break, you’ll have a long journey ahead to get back to Lima!
Cordillera de la Viuda Weather
Cordillera de la Viuda temperature: given the high altitude of the area, temperatures are generally quite low. With this in mind, there are two important things to consider. First, you’ll need to pack warm clothes. Check out What to Wear and Pack, so you know exactly what you should take. Second, you’ll have to think about the high altitude and possible altitude sickness.
Acclimatisation For Cordillera de la Viuda
Altitude sickness (AKA Acute Mountain Sickness) is a common illness experienced by those who reach high altitudes that they’re not used to. The main symptoms include headache, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, indigestion and loss of appetite.
There is a considerable height difference between Lima (sea level) and Cordillera de la Viuda (Laguna 7 Colores is 4,650 metres above sea level). So, altitude sickness is a genuine concern if you haven’t acclimatised. Obviously, if you’ve just arrived in Lima, and are visiting this mountain range, you wouldn’t really have had a chance to acclimatise. Given the risks of altitude sickness, we wouldn’t recommend doing this trip without acclimatising first. Luckily, we had already visited and hiked in high-altitude areas such as Cusco and Huaraz before doing this trip.
How to Avoid Altitude Sickness
The single most important way to reduce your chances of altitude sickness is to avoid going up too high, too quickly! As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t go higher than 500 metres a day, once you’re beyond 2,000 metres above sea level. Given this advice, you can see the inherent problem of travelling from Lima to Cordillera de la Viuda in one day. Without any acclimatisation beforehand, you’ll probably experience some form of altitude sickness. It could be mild. But, it could be severe. Indeed, Beck and I saw locals, from Lima, struggle with mild to moderate altitude sickness.
Thankfully, even if you feel unwell, there are methods for managing altitude sickness. Firstly, don’t rush around. Walk slowly and take it easy. If you feel out of breath, stop and have a break until you feel comfortable continuing. Secondly, eat light meals and don’t eat them too quickly. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is also important. In addition, you may benefit from coca leaves, tea or sweets. This is what the locals recommend. Finally, you could take altitude sickness tablets (such as Diamox). But, if you’ve acclimatised properly beforehand, you shouldn’t need them.
Where to Stay in Lima
You’ll need a place to stay in Lima before and after the tour. Miraflores is definitely one of the best areas to stay in when visiting Lima. So, we’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxury options in that area.
- Budget – Flying Dog Hostel: a budget backpacker favourite in Miraflores. Well, let’s be honest, Miraflores isn’t exactly a budget-friendly destination. But, Miraflores is one of the nicest and safest areas in town. Thankfully, the Flying Dog Hostel is a nice hostel that offers dorm rooms at a fairly cheap rate.
- Mid-range – Hostal Carlos Tenaud: Beck and I really enjoyed staying here. Hostal Carlos Tenaud is an excellent hotel with modern facilities. The staff were friendly and accommodating. Pro tip: We found the rates offered on Booking.com, with a Genius account, were much cheaper than booking directly with the hotel.
- Luxury – KACLLA, The Healing Dog Hostel: you might be surprised to see a hostel listed as a luxurious option. Well, there are cheaper dorm rooms on offer here. But, the private rooms at KACLLA, the Healing Dog Hostel are actually quite opulent. Located near the coastline, this hostel is a popular option for backpackers looking for a high-quality place to stay in Lima.
Travel insurance is a necessary evil, particularly if you’re travelling to high-altitude areas in Peru. We recommend World Nomads as a reliable and trustworthy provider, that covers activities at high altitudes.
What to Wear and Pack
Why do you need this?
See it in action
These hiking boots are super comfortable
This camera is light and compact, so it's perfect for exploring mountains. The Sony Cybershot RX100 VII takes brilliant photos and 4K videos
It can get really cold at high altitudes. This jacket is compact and doesn't take up much space in your backpack
This neck gaiter is really versatile. I used it to keep warm during this trip
Always pack a waterproof jacket when hiking in the mountains in Peru. We needed it on this trip
You should also pack a down jacket, water, snacks, lunch, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.
Bonus Recommendations and Tips
- Cordillera de la Viuda trails: it is possible to hike in this mountain range. Of course, Beck and I love hiking (particularly speed hiking) and would have enjoyed trekking here. But, most full day tours don’t include hiking in the itinerary. There just isn’t enough time.
- Pack motion sickness tablets: if you get travel sickness, be prepared! The roads leading to the mountain range are narrow, winding and bumpy.
- Plan entertainment for the long bus journeys: reading a book might not work on the mountain roads. So, you better take some headphones and have some music or podcasts ready to play.
- Be wary of a jampacked tour itinerary: sometimes, overpacked itineraries make day trips too hectic and busy. Possibly, on this day trip, there were too many items. This meant we didn’t even stop at all of the places listed on the itinerary (Cullhuay). I mean, sure, we didn’t do the trip to specifically visit Cullhuay. But, still, I feel like the itinerary that you paid for should be honoured. Rant over.
What’s speed hiking? It’s a more intense type of hiking that we love. Find out more about it here.
If you have any questions about this tour, please ask us, using the comments box below.
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