Laguna Shallap is a breathtaking green lake that’s easy to explore from Pitec, near Huaraz in Peru. Surprisingly, though, tourists are yet to cotton on to this stunning natural attraction. Indeed, not many tourists know about this lake. Honestly speaking, the colour of the lake is just mind-blowing. But, it’s not just that. Laguna Shallap is perched at the foot of some spectacular mountains that form part of the Cordillera Blanca. Truly, the hike to Laguna Shallap involves a scenic trail, that’ll have any keen hiker buzzing.
In this hiking guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Laguna Shallap and how to hike to it. We’ll provide a GPS-guided map and trail description. Then, we’ll talk about how to get there independently. We’ll also cover things like how to properly acclimatise for the hike and what to pack and wear. Finally, we’ll reveal other lesser-known hikes in Huaraz, which are just as incredible.
Laguna Shallap Overview
Laguna Shallap, also known as Lake Shallap, is yet another beautiful lake in Huascaran National Park in the Cordillera Blanca. Of course, there are more popular lakes to hike to in this area. Namely, Laguna 69, Paron and Churup (guides coming soon). These are the most well-known lake hikes to do from Huaraz. But, there are many equally stunning lakes in the Cordillera Blanca that remain barely explored and unknown. Laguna Shallap is one of these lakes that’s certainly off the beaten track. Perhaps, that’s why Beck and I enjoyed this hike so much. During the approx. 6 hour hike, we saw no other hikers! Considering the beauty of the lake and its surrounds, there really should be more tourists hiking here.
So, where exactly is this lake located?
Where is Laguna Shallap?
As mentioned, Laguna Shallap is located in Huascaran National Park, which is nestled in the outstanding Cordillera Blanca. The lake is located in the Shallap Valley, which is reachable from either Pitec or Junca – these are both small towns near Huaraz. Indeed, it’s possible to hike Laguna Shallap from both Pitec and Junca. But, we’ll explain why hiking from Pitec is a better option here. Either way, you’ll likely be exploring Laguna Shallap from Huaraz, which is the capital of the Ancash region in Northern Peru.
Things to Know About the Laguna Shallap Hike
Before we describe the awesome Laguna Shallap hike, there are a few useful things to know. First, Laguna Shallap is quite a long hike (approx. 24km). So, you’ll want to be in reasonably good shape before taking on this trail. Also, it’s a high-altitude hike. It starts in Pitec, near Huaraz, which is around 3,750 metres above sea level. The hike then reaches a height of 4,250 metres above sea level. This means you’ll want to properly acclimatise before doing this hike.
Thankfully, though, the trail itself isn’t at all technical. Most of the time, the trail is fairly even and easy to negotiate. Also, trail navigation is straightforward. There is a fairly defined path to follow. So, you shouldn’t get lost. Of course, having a map is always useful! Feel free to use our GPS-guided directions.
Laguna Shallap Hike Details & Map
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 24km
- Time: 6–8 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 670m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Pitec
Laguna Shallap Hike: Trail Description
After the short journey from Huaraz to Pitec, the hike begins! Follow signs for Quebrada Shallap (Shallap River) and Nevado San Juan. Initially, you’ll descend onto a grassy and rocky trail, that meanders through the relatively dry terrain. Soon, you’ll pass farmland as the trail flattens and starts to gradually ascend.
As you gain elevation, you’ll notice a large granite ridge to your left. This forms part of the Shallap Valley, which you’ll soon begin to follow. Subtly veering to the left, you’ll soon be hiking through the stunning valley. On a clear day, expect the tops of snowy mountains to reveal in the distance. As you steadily continue to climb, you’ll pass huge boulders and follow along the river stream.
The further you climb, the more impressive the mountainous views become. There’s a real sense of anticipation as you near the mountains and the lake.
Eventually, you’ll reach some stone buildings. After passing these and turning left, you’ll reach the mesmerising green lake. You’ll find a signpost and a concrete platform at the foot of the lake. Like many lakes in the Cordillera Blanca, this one has been turned into a man-made dam. Admittedly, you’ll hardly notice the slab of concrete as you gaze with amazement at the otherworldly green lake. Not since hiking to the Green Lochan in the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands, had we seen a green-coloured lake. And, honestly speaking, Laguna Shallap is an even more impressive lake than the one in Scotland.
We recommend crossing the concrete platform and following a faint trail to the lake’s shore. From here, you can really appreciate the epic mountains in the distance. You’ll notice San Juan (5,843m) to the left, Tumarinarajua (5,668m), AKA Carhuashcancha in front, and, Huantsan (6,396m) barely in sight, off to the right. In fact, for the best views of Huantsan, you’ll want to hike to Laguna Rajucolta (guide coming soon).
After a bite to eat and marvelling at the sensational green lake, it’s time to retrace your steps to complete the hike. On the way back, Beck and I indulged in our favourite activity – speed hiking. The return hike is really enjoyable as you see the valley from a different perspective. Anyway, before long, you’ll hike out of the valley, return to the trailhead in Pitec and await the colectivo back to Huaraz.
What’s speed hiking? It’s hiking as fast as you can. We love doing it for a good workout. Read more about it here.
Laguna Shallap Hike Recap
Many tourists who visit Huaraz won’t go to Laguna Shallap. Simply put, this lake doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It’s truly a spectacular natural attraction that should have more visitors. Hopefully, this guide has helped to shed some light on this otherwise unknown place. Indeed, make sure to add this hike to your Huaraz itinerary.
How to Get to Laguna Shallap
There are two options for getting to and hiking Laguna Shallap.
- Colectivo to Pitec from Huaraz: this is the easiest and cheapest option. Transport Turistico Andes Peru run a colectivo service directly to Pitec from Huaraz. Pitec is also the trailhead for the more popular Laguna Churup (Lake Churup) hike (guide coming soon). So, essentially, most people on the colectivo will be heading to Pitec to hike Laguna Churup instead. The colectivos to Pitec depart Huaraz (see location on the map below) from 7am, running a few times in the morning. Expect the first departure to be around 7:15–7:30am – basically, once the colectivo is full, it’ll leave. But, we recommend getting there for 7am, just in case. You’ll pay S/20 ($5USD) per person for a return ticket (S/10 each way). Colectivos from Pitec to Huaraz start from around 2pm and run hourly until 5pm (last departure).
- Moto-taxi or taxi from Huaraz to Junca: this is the most convenient option. But, it’s much pricier. Simply, hire a driver for the day to take you to Junca, wait and then drive you back to Huaraz. The going rate is between S/100–150 ($25–$38USD). From Junca, the hike to Laguna Shallap is slightly shorter (approx. 22km) and the route is more direct. That’s why, if you do a Laguna Shallap tour, they generally start from Junca. FYI – there’s no public transport or colectivo to Junca from Huaraz.
Pitec is a small mountain town just outside of the city of Huaraz. It takes around 45 minutes to drive from Huaraz to Pitec. As mentioned, Pitec is well-known as the starting point for the Laguna Churup hike (guide coming soon). But, Pitec is also a potential starting place for the multi-day Quillcayhuanca Cojup Trek. If Beck and I had a little more time in Huaraz, we would have loved to have done this multi-day trek. Ah well, there’s always next time.
Laguna Shallap Tours
Laguna Shallap isn’t a very well-known destination. So, you’ll only find a few tour companies in Huaraz, that offer Laguna Shallap hiking tours. As mentioned, it’s very unlikely (as of 2022) that enough people know about this hike for there to be tour groups heading there. With that in mind, if you go with a tour company, it’ll likely be a private service. This could cost anywhere between S/220–380 ($55–95USD). We think these costs are unnecessary. It’s easy to hike to Laguna Shallap independently. So, we don’t recommend doing a tour.
Laguna Shallap Entrance Fee
Because you’ll enter Huascaran National Park, you’ll pay an entrance fee. About halfway to the lake, a local asked us for the entry fee. The man wasn’t wearing any official uniform. So, we didn’t know what to think. But, luckily, Beck and I had paid S/150 ($38USD) per person for a 4–30 day Huascaran National Park pass. So, we just showed him our passes, and we didn’t have to pay the usual S/30 ($8USD) daily rate.
In fact, we needed to show this pass for entry to Laguna 69, Churup, Llaca, Hualcacocha, Pastoruri Glacier, and, twice for the Santa Cruz trek (guides coming soon). By visiting more than five places at Huascaran National Park, it’s worth buying this pass. Otherwise, you’d pay S/30 ($8USD) for each visit.
Best Time to Visit
You’ll have a better chance of good weather in the dry season, which runs May to October. As you’re now aware, this hike isn’t known by many tourists (for now). So, even when hiking during peak tourist times in the dry season, you won’t see many, if any, people on the trail.
Personally, Beck and I visited during the dry season, in late June. True to form, we mostly had clear blue skies with the odd cloud. But, of course, mountain weather is unpredictable.
How to Properly Acclimatise
Before you do the hike, you should acclimatise. Altitude sickness (AKA Acute Mountain Sickness) is a common illness experienced by those who reach unaccustomed high altitudes. The main symptoms include headache, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, indigestion and loss of appetite. It’s impossible to predict who will get altitude sickness. Even if you have avoided it in the past, that doesn’t mean you won’t get it the next time.
You’ll hear about many different ways to avoid altitude sickness. But, the most important way to reduce your chances of getting altitude sickness is to 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 hike. 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) before attempting Laguna Shallap (4,250m). This will reduce your chances of getting altitude sickness.
How to Avoid Altitude Sickness
There are other ways you can reduce your chances of getting altitude sickness. Firstly, don’t rush when you’re hiking to the lake. Walk slowly and take it easy. If you feel out of breath, simply stop, relax and have a break. Secondly, eat light meals and don’t eat them too quickly. Drink plenty of water. 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.
Where to Stay in Huaraz
Of course, if you’re exploring Laguna Shallap from Huaraz, you’ll need a place to rest your head. We’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxury options.
- Budget – Accommodation Bella-Vista: this is a fantastic option for the shoestring traveller. 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 a buck.
- Mid-range – Krusty Hostel B&B: Beck and I really enjoyed our stay here. We stayed in Huaraz for over a month. So, we got to know Krusty Hostel B&B really well. It’s actually 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. Did we mention the outstanding Wifi?
- Luxury – Cordillera Hotel: this is hands-down one of the best accommodation options in Huaraz. Cordillera Hotel is an excellent hotel with nice rooms and modern facilities. You’d be hard-pressed to find a nicer place to stay when visiting Huaraz.
Other Hikes in Huaraz
There are so many awesome hikes to do in Huaraz. We highly recommend doing the following trails when you visit (guides coming soon):
- Laguna Wilcacocha: the perfect acclimatisation trek.
- Laguna 69: a popular day hike to do from Huaraz.
- Four Lagunas Trek: our favourite Huaraz day hike. Yes, it’s even better than Laguna Shallap!
- Laguna 513: another turquoise-coloured lake, similar to Laguna 69 and Laguna Hualcacocha.
- Paron Lake: one of the most stunning lakes in Huaraz.
- Pastoruri Glacier: a popular day trip that includes a short high-altitude hike.
- Laguna Churup: a day hike that also starts from Pitec, near Huaraz.
- Laguna Llaca: is probably the most underrated day hike in the area.
- Huayhuash 8-Day Circuit: an increasingly popular multi-day hike that’s simply mind-blowing.
- Laguna Hualcacocha: another lesser-known hike that’s worth your time.
- Laguna Quesquecocha: a hike which is even lesser known than Laguna Shallap!
- Santa Cruz Trek: a well-known brilliant multi-day trek.
- Laguna Rajucolta: an easy day hike, where you’ll enjoy unparalleled views of Huantsan mountain.
- Laguna Uruscocha: one of the hardest day hikes in the area.
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 Huaraz
This camera is super lightweight and compact, so it's perfect to take on day hikes. The Sony Cybershot RX100 VII takes high-quality photos and 4K videos
It can get chilly at high altitudes. Better pack a warm fleece jacket, even during the dry season in Peru
The neck gaiter is very versatile. During this trek, I used it to keep my neck warm
Always pack a waterproof jacket, especially during the rainy season in Peru
You should also pack water, snacks, lunch, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.
For a more complete hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Or, for a summary of everything you’d need for a trip to Huaraz, read our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Climbing is another popular activity in Huaraz: other than hiking, many travellers head to Huaraz to climb. A great beginner’s climb is Nevado Mateo. Beck and I were close to doing this activity until I injured my toe. Damn, the climb looks amazing!
- Use Busbud: an easy way to book bus tickets in advance at competitive prices. We used Busbud to book our bus from Lima to Huaraz.
- Explore the unknown: sure, visit the popular places near Huaraz, like Laguna 69 (guide coming soon) and Laguna Paron. But, there are many hidden gems in Huaraz. Talk to locals and tour companies to find out any secrets or lesser-known places for the most authentically unique experiences.
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