I could give you 513 reasons as to why you should hike to Laguna 513. Honestly, I could. But, I think you’ll only need one, and that’s summed up in the feature image above. Lying in the shadow of the impressive Hualcan Mountain, a quick ride from Carhuaz, is some of the most underrated hiking in Huaraz, if not Peru. Truly, trekking to Laguna 513 is an experience not to miss.
With a rather unexciting name, you might expect Laguna 513 to not live up to much. But, nothing could be further from the truth. Its easiest comparison is the uber-popular Laguna 69. Both, are incredible day hikes with drool-worthy turquoise glacier lakes as their crowning glories. But, what if I told you trekking to Laguna 513 is even better!
Also known as Laguna 513a and Lake 513 (again, the names don’t improve much), this glistening body of water sits like a sparkling blue topaz, deeply set in a rugged platinum casing. Quite frankly, it’s one of the most incredible glacial lakes in all of Peru. And lemme tell ya, Dan and I did our best to see a lot during our 3-month stay. So, I feel I have a fair amount to compare it to. And better yet, Laguna 513 is still relatively secret, so just like us, you’ll likely have this place to yourself.
In this guide, we’ll cover trail overview, stats and description. We’ll look at how to get to Laguna 513, as well as options for trekking with a tour. We’ll throw in some Huaraz accommodation options and suggest other incredible hikes.
Laguna 513 Overview
Peru is truly a hiking mecca. With Huaraz being the beating heart of a land littered with world-class trekking, you could easily spend months attempting to cover every trail, reach every glacial lake and then begin to join the dots in between with some epic multi-day hikes.
But, we don’t all have months on end to trek in Huaraz. So, what makes Laguna 513 worth a day of your precious hiking time?
Well, it’s actually a very easy day hike to do from Huaraz. Much easier than many others Dan and I hiked during our one-month stay. The trail is clear and defined. It’s also unbelievably quiet which makes it perfect if you want to escape the crowds or simply just like to do something a little more off the beaten track. Transport from Huaraz to Carhuaz and Shonquilpampa is very straightforward, more on that below. In addition, reaching Laguna 513 also provides some of the best views there are of Hualcán Mountain. Oh, and did I mention there’s another incredible lake to see along the way?
So, where is Laguna 513?
Where is Laguna 513?
Located in the sublime Cordillera Blanca, Laguna 513 sits at 4,431m above sea level in the shadow of Nevado Hualcán. This awesome mountain stands at an impressive 6,125m above sea level, making Hualcan one of the highest peaks in the massif. Laguna 513 lies to the north of Huaraz within the Ancash department of Peru. It can be reached via a colectivo ride to Carhuaz, and then a taxi or mototaxi into the mountain community of Shonquilpampa. Laguna 513 takes its name from the glacier it runs from – Glacier 513, so named according to the National Inventory of Glaciers.
Laguna 513 Hike Details & Map
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 15.5km
- Duration: 6 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 865m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Shonquilpampa
Trekking Laguna 513: Trail Description
After an easy colectivo ride to Carhuaz and a subsequent ride up to Shonquilpampa, you’ll arrive at the gated trailhead. You’ll first need to scramble up the embankment to the left and climb over the wall since access through the gate is not possible. Fear not, this is the official trail. You’ll see a faint path to follow. Once over the other side, you’ll pass some small farm buildings and then begin across the pasture fields on a fairly flat and even terrain. This is the easiest section of trekking to Laguna 513.
Ahead of you is the mighty Hualcan peak, looming largely. At the base of Hualcan is Laguna 513, so you’ll have a clear view of the goal to reach at all times.
Towards the end of the fields, the trail delves into a forested section to the right. From here, your ascent will begin. The Laguna 513 hike climbs alongside the Chucchun River, before crossing over and entering a section of more open trail. From here, the switchbacks start.
The trail is a continuous uphill slog, but the zig-zag trail is easy to follow and not really too steep at any point. Much easier, in that regard, than other laguna hikes we’ve completed in Huaraz like the Four Lagunas Trek. Hualcan Mountain gets larger and more impressive the higher you climb.
At around the 5km mark, you’ll pass by some rather picturesque cascades, eventually reaching the first lagoon, Laguna Rajupaquinan.
A bright emerald lake, hopefully sparkling in the sunlight, greets you at this midway point of the hike. It’s surrounded by a cauldron-type wall, with the peak of Hualcan Mountain just peering over the edge. Laguna Rajupaquinan is so beautiful it truly deserves recognition in its own right. In fact, if the effort of trekking to Laguna 513 feels a little too much, you’d not be disappointed with just seeing this incredible lake on your hike.
From here the trail continues up the rockface you see before you. Incredibly, the trail has seen some maintenance work, and the continuing zig-zag is laid out by concrete walls that guide ever higher. As you near the top of this section, there are some rather boggy patches before the trail curves to the right and briefly heads through a lightly wooded area. From here you are very close to Laguna 513.
Around 1 hours hike from Laguna Rajupaquinan is Laguna 513. Upon approaching Laguna 513, you’ll pass a couple of dilapidated stone buildings and then follow the trail down to the mirador. Nothing will quite prepare you for the brilliant turquoise blue colour that hits you, starkly, as you round the trail and head down to the lagoon’s edge. It is like nothing else. Nevado Hualcan looks breathtaking overhead.
And what’s more, if you’re as lucky as us, you’ll likely have the whole of Laguna 513 to yourself.
The views from the Laguna 513 sign post are spectacular. However, behind, with a rough scramble up the surrounding rockface, the views get even better. If you look carefully, you’ll see a faint trail where others have trodden before, leading you to the top.
The whole of Laguna 513 looks truly splendid from this higher lookout. Hualcan Mountain feels within absolute touching distance and the whole atmosphere is calm and serene. I struggled to comprehend how not one other person was here to witness this incredible place. How is no one hiking here?
We enjoyed our lunch from this top mirador, in awe of Hualcan, the glacier, the lake and pretty well everything else we could see, before trekking down to enjoy Laguna 513 from the shoreline. The lake was just as incredible from here too. We easily whiled away a good hour.
Laguna 513 Tunnel
On the approach to the base, you may pass the opening to a tunnel. Please take care if you decide to enter this. Essentially, the tunnel runs for a round 10 metres. It’s very dark with little pools of water on the ground. All the time you can hear the gushing of water as it passes through at the far end. As you start to see light at the other end, please note there is a huge hole with a very long drop into the abyss. It looks very similar to the shallow pools of water near the entrance to the tunnel, but it is a big drop instead. I would not recommend going any further. I believe the tunnels were built to assist with flooding issues, so nothing too natural to marvel at.
A quick snap from the tunnel entrance is all that’s worth seeing here.
Once you’ve had your fill of Laguna 513 and Hualcan Mountain, it’s simply a case of retracing your steps and trekking back to the trailhead. If there’s time, you can even enjoy a little more of what Laguna Rajupaquinan has to offer.
Laguna 513 Hike Recap
So there you have it, a stunning mountain hike in pure peace and tranquillity that rewards you with not one but two spectacular lakes and an unrivalled view of Hualcan Mountain. This is hands down one of the best hikes we completed in Huaraz and I urge you to go check it out for yourself. Preferably before it becomes more popular, which it inevitably will. Trekking to Laguna 513 will be one of your best Huaraz hiking experiences.
As touched upon, trekking to Laguna 513 is very straightforward to do independently. Obviously, it’s very important to be properly prepared, including being well acclimatised and having access to a GPS map. That being said, the trail is very easy to follow and thoroughly enjoyable. But, how to get to the trailhead?
FYI – as far as we’re aware, there is no entrance fee for trekking to Laguna 513. This is despite entering the Huascaran National Park, which usually involves a S/30 ($8USD) daily entrance fee.
How to Get to Laguna 513
The trailhead for Laguna 513 is in the small community of Shonquilpampa. To reach here with plenty of daylight for hiking, you’ll want to be leaving Huaraz early, around 5.30am. From Huaraz, take a colectivo to Carhuaz. The journey time is around 1.5 hours and the price is S/6 ($1.50USD). The colectivo to Carhuaz can be caught from Paradero Carhuaz.
Upon arrival at Carhuaz, you have a couple of options.
Hire a Taxi
Initially, Dan and I were told it would be possible to hire a mototaxi to take us all the way from Carhuaz to Shonquilpampa. On arrival to Carhuaz, we discovered it was not. So, instead, we took a taxi. A slightly more expensive option. Indeed, the convenience was excellent. Just be sure to negotiate if your driver is to wait or return for you at an elected time. We got a little lost in translation and gave a finishing time, but also thought we’d agreed he would wait, since we were paying to have him for the day. He did not. So, back a little earlier than planned from trekking Laguna 513, we had to sit tight and wait. Still, when he showed up with chocolate and water for us, all was forgiven.
When you alight at Carhuaz, you’ll see plenty of taxi options to get you up to Shonquilpampa and the trailhead. The going rate is S/150–200 ($38–50USD). Given the trailhead’s location, by far your easiest option is to hire the driver for the day. The drive time from Carhuaz to Shonquilpampa is around one hour.
Mototaxi & Taxi
Your second option is to take a mototaxi from Carhuaz as far as the community of Hualcan. There’s a wealth of mototaxis in Carhuaz when you alight the colectivo, so no worries in picking one up once you arrive. However, taxis will be few and far between from Hualcan, so you may have a bit of waiting here. Of course, you’ll still need to negotiate the taxi from Hualcan to either wait or return for you. But, it will cost you less, than doing so from Carhuaz. A cheaper but also less straight forward option.
NOTE: Between the communities of Hualcan and Soledad there is a S/5($1.30USD) road fee for the communities. This was covered in the cost of our taxi but you may be asked to pay this as extra, so don’t be surprised.
Returning from Carhuaz to Huaraz cost S/5($1.30USD). If you mention to your driver in Carhuaz that you are returning to Huaraz, they will drop you at a waiting colectivo heading that way. Very convenient.
Laguna 513 Tours
Given how relatively unknown and less popular the hike to Laguna 513 is, you’ll not find many tour operators running day hikes here. Companies tend to plough their time into the current big dogs like Laguna 69, Laguna Paron and Pastoruri Glacier.
With that being said, with a quick Google search, you’ll find there are some tour companies that offer this trip. Often though, to keep the costs minimal, big group numbers will be required. And, as mentioned, this could be a struggle for such a quiet trail.
One company Dan and I did use for a couple of off the beaten track hikes in Huaraz was Qorianka. They organise group tours, private transportation and private transportation with a guide. We used their services for Laguna Rajulcolta, Laguna Queshquecocha and Laguna Hualcacocha and we were very impressed.
General Tour Prices
A group tour with Qorianka will only set you back S/118 ($30USD). So, in actual fact, not too much more expensive than hiking Laguna 513 independently, considering the convenience. However, for the tour to be offered at such a reasonable amount requires a group size of 14–18 people. You see the dilemma here.
Alternatively, you could use their services for a private driver for the day. You’ll get picked up in Huaraz, bypass the need to stop in Carhuaz, and be driven straight to Shonquilpampa. The driver will wait as you hike and then drive you back to Huaraz at whatever time you finish. This service generally costs around S/300 ($76USD). Split between two people, it isn’t really much more expensive than the group tour. Just no guide included.
If you want the full guided shebang with Qorianka, you’ll be looking at S/660 ($170USD) for a solo hiker and S/350 ($90USD) each if there are two of you. But honestly speaking, if you’re fit, acclimatised and have a good map as a backup, you really shouldn’t need a guide for this one.
Best Time to Visit
Peru has a dry season and a wet season. You’ll have a better chance of good weather in the dry season, which runs from May to October. Although mountain weather is always unpredictable, Dan and I were lucky enough to experience glorious hiking conditions for trekking to Laguna 513.
The dry season also coincides with peak tourism in Peru, which generally means much busier trails. But as you’re beginning to see, this hike has such minimal footfall, that you won’t see many others on this trail. The only other hikers we saw were a group of three locals who were making their way up when we were almost back. So, undoubtedly, the dry season is the best time to visit.
The Importance of Acclimatising
Don’t underestimate the importance of acclimatising before you embark on the Laguna 513 hike, or any other hike in the Huaraz area for that matter. 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. Those who’ve avoided altitude sickness in the past, aren’t necessarily immune the next time.
You’ve probably heard about different ways to avoid altitude sickness. But, the most important way to reduce your chances of getting altitude sickness is to simply avoid going up too high, too quickly! Generally speaking, you shouldn’t go higher than 500 metres a day, once you’re beyond 2,000 metres above sea level.
In practice, if you arrive in Huaraz (3,050 metres above sea level), you should have at least two days’ rest before you start trekking. This should give your body time to adjust and acclimatise. In theory, by the third day, your body should be able to tolerate approx. 3,550 metres. By this time, you should start with some hikes with a lower maximum elevation gain. For instance, you could start with Laguna Wilcacocha (3,710m) and then perhaps Laguna Shallap (4,250m) before attempting Laguna 513 (4,431m). This will reduce your chances of getting altitude sickness.
How to Avoid Altitude Sickness
There are some other ways you can reduce your chances of getting altitude sickness. Firstly, don’t rush when you’re hiking to the lake. This one’s hard for Dan and I as we love to speed hike, but this is really not advisable at high altitude. Walk slowly and take it easy. Secondly, eat light meals, don’t eat them too quickly and stay hydrated. Water is your best friend. I mean, water is always your best friend. Also, you may benefit from coca leaves, tea or sweets. This is what locals recommend. Finally, there are altitude sickness tablets (such as Diamox) available. But, if you acclimatise properly, you shouldn’t need these.
What’s speed hiking? It’s hiking with much gusto! We love doing it to work up a sweat. Read more about speed hiking here.
Where to Stay in Huaraz
Of course, if you’re exploring Laguna 513 and Hualcan Mountain from Huaraz, you’ll need a place to stay. We’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxury options.
- Budget – Accommodation Bella-Vista: even the shoestring traveller deserves a decent place to stay. At Accommodation Bella-Vista, you’ll have a nice stay that’s great value for money. They do have private rooms; but, of course, the dorm rooms are where you’ll save.
- Mid-range – Krusty Hostel B&B: Dan and I really enjoyed our time here. Krusty Hostel B&B is one of the most highly-rated places to stay in Huaraz. The private rooms are nice and cosy. Also, the hostel features a large shared kitchen, which includes a free breakfast. Plus, the Wifi is very good. They can also help organise your Huayhuash and Santa Cruz treks if you like.
- Luxury – Cordillera Hotel: this is likely the best hotel in Huaraz. Cordillera Hotel is an excellent place to stay. Its rooms have modern facilities and offer a great deal of comfort for the weary hiker. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to stay in the area.
NOTE: some travellers also find accommodation options in Carhuaz. Although it’s closer to the trailhead, I think it’s much easier to base yourself solely in Huaraz.
Other Hikes in Huaraz
There are so many brilliant hikes and lakes in Huaraz to explore. We highly recommend doing the following trails when you visit:
- Laguna Wilcacocha: a great acclimatisation hike when you arrive in Huaraz.
- Laguna 69 hike: a popular but stunning day hike.
- Four Lagunas Trek: a challenge, but our favourite Huaraz day hike.
- Laguna Rajucolta: one of the easiest lagoon hikes from Huaraz.
- Laguna Paron tour: the largest lake in the Cordillera Blanca.
- Pastoruri Glacier tour: a popular day trip to an awesome glacier.
- Laguna Churup: short but steep, this is one of the easiest hikes to do independently.
- Laguna Llaca: the most underrated day hike in the area.
- Huayhuash Trek: an epic multi-day trek, growing in popularity.
- Laguna Hualcacocha: one of the newest hikes in Huaraz.
- Laguna Queshquecocha: super unknown and off the beaten track.
- Santa Cruz Trek: world-class 3 or 4 day trek.
- Laguna Shallap: a change from blue hue lakes, this one is bright green!
- Laguna Yanacocha and Uruscocha: one of the hardest day hikes in Huaraz.
What to Wear and Pack
Why do you need this?
See it in action
These hiking boots are super comfortable – just perfect for hiking in Peru
This camera is super lightweight and compact, so it's perfect for day hikes. The Sony Cybershot RX100 VII takes high-quality photos and 4K videos
It can get quite cold at high altitudes. Pack a warm fleece jacket, even if it's dry season
The neck gaiter is very versatile. Perfect for protecting airways from dust, keeping sun off your neck and wiping sweat.
Always pack a waterproof jacket, because you just never know! Especially in the mountains.
You should also pack water, snacks, lunch, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat. After Carhuaz, you won’t find many opportunities to stock up on supplies.
- Camp: of the handful of people we did see on this trail, we noticed they were carrying camping equipment. Perhaps you could consider an overnight trip to Laguna 513. Camping under the gaze of Hualcan, bliss.
- Use Busbud: a simple way to book bus tickets in advance at competitive prices. We used Busbud to book our bus from Lima to Huaraz.
- Cusco: another great hiking destination in Peru, Cusco has many fantastic multi-day treks like Choquequirao, Salkantay and Ausangate.
Bookmark this post ready for when you hike to Laguna 513 and marvel at this perfect turquoise lagoon and impressive Hulacan Mountain!
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