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Pastoruri Glacier (Nevado Pastoruri): The Ultimate Guide

Pastoruri Glacier (Nevado Pastoruri): The Ultimate Guide

Visiting Pastoruri Glacier (Nevado Pastoruri) is one of the best day trips you can do from Huaraz in Northern Peru. Pastoruri Glacier, also known as Nevado Pastoruri and Glaciar Pastoruri, remains a wondrous natural attraction despite its obvious recession in recent times. Indeed, it’s a hot planet! So, you better go visit the glacier before it’s too late! And, the best way to visit Pastoruri Glacier near Huaraz in Peru, is by doing a tour.

In this travel guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the tour. We’ll cover the typical itinerary, costs, hiking details, what to bring and what to expect. In addition, we’ll talk about where to stay as well as other awesome hikes to do in Huaraz.

We hope you find this guide useful. For other epic day trips in Huaraz, check out our Laguna 69 and Laguna Paron tour guides.

Pastoruri Glacier (Nevado Pastoruri) in Huaraz, Peru: Overview

Pastoruri Glacier, commonly known as Nevado Pastoruri, is an immense glacier that forms part of the Cordillera Blanca. When Beck and I visited it in June 2022, we were mesmerised by the beauty of this large glacier. But, unfortunately, climate change is seriously reducing the size of it. According to a report by the Peruvian Times, in 2007, Pastoruri Glacier lost 22% of its ice mass in the past 30–35 years. Of course, global warming is only getting worse. So, Pastoruri Glacier melting will inevitably continue. Indeed, when you look at a list of tropical glaciers, Pastoruri is one of the most affected. Sadly, in the near future, glaciers, such as this one, that are positioned in tropical areas, will cease to exist.

Certainly, we recommend visiting the glacier before it disappears. Thankfully, when Beck and I visited, we still enjoyed a fairly vast and beautiful glacier. So, it’s definitely still worth visiting. But, as mentioned – time is ticking. We gazed at the glacier in amazement, but also sadness as we could literally see it melting.

So, where exactly is it located?

Pastoruri Glacier

Where is Pastoruri Glacier Located?

Pastoruri Glacier is located in the Huascaran National Park, which is nestled in the spectacular Cordillera Blanca. In fact, Pastoruri Glacier is located near Huaraz, which is the capital of the Ancash region in Peru. The closest town to the glacier is Catac, which is one of the more reasonably sized towns in this area.

Well, without further ado, let’s talk about the Pastoruri Glacier tour, which is the easiest way to visit.

How to Get to Pastoruri Glacier From Huaraz, Peru

Thankfully, by doing a Pastoruri Glacier tour from Huaraz, it’s really easy to get there! Simply, show up at the arranged pick-up location and time in Huaraz. Then, the tour company’s van will pick you up and take you to and from the glacier!

Unfortunately, there isn’t any public transport that visits this part of the Huascaran National Park. This means visiting independently isn’t an option. Unless you have your own van or rental car. But, a rental car would be quite expensive compared with doing a tour. In addition, the road leading to the glacier is unpaved, bumpy and winding. So, there’s always the risk of car rental damage. That’s certainly unideal.

Of course, Beck and I prefer to travel and explore independently. But, this wasn’t possible this time around. Thankfully, the tour was convenient, cheap and easy to organise.

Pastoruri Glacier

Pastoruri Glacier Tour

Nearly every tour company in Huaraz offers Pastoruri Glacier tours. In reality, it doesn’t really matter which tour company you book with. Because, if you’re booking a group tour, most of the companies in Huaraz work together and pool everyone, who has booked, into a few vans for that day’s tour.

Personally, we booked the tour at our accommodation (Krusty Hostel B&B) in Huaraz as this was most convenient. The hostel has its own tour agency, called Huayhuash Expeditions. But, they don’t actually offer Pastoruri Glacier tours. So, the kind owner, Ivan, simply made a call and booked us on a tour with another company. Best of all, there are no added costs for using the hostel as a middle man. We paid S/45 ($11USD), which seems to be the going rate for one day Pastoruri Glacier tours in 2022.

What’s included in the tour: Roundtrip transportation from Huaraz, a guide (usually English-speaking) and a few stops throughout Huascaran National Park.

What’s not included in the tour: meals, entrance fee (S/30/$8USD).

Overall, it’s quite a basic and bare-bones tour that’s provided by most companies in Huaraz. But, that’s all that’s required. A way to get to and from the glacier, considering public transport doesn’t operate this route. Although, it was nice to get picked up directly from our accommodation around 8:30am.

Anyway, let’s look at the typical itinerary for a Pastoruri Glacier tour from Huaraz, Peru.


After a frustrating wait to pick up everyone, we eventually set off around 9:15am. After 45 minutes, we arrived at Ticapampa for a quick break. This part of the tour is nothing special. You just briefly stop at Restaurant Faby Star. Feel free to use the toilet facilities (free of charge) or buy some coca leaves or sweets to help with the altitude.

Patococha Lake

After another 25 minutes of driving on the main road, the van turns left onto an unpaved road. From here, the drive becomes bumpy and rather unpleasant. Thankfully, there are a few stops on the way to the glacier to break up the 1–1.5 hour drive. The first of which is at the visitor centre. Next to it, you’ll find Patococha Lake. When it comes to lakes in the Huascaran National Park, this lake isn’t anything special. If anything, the Lake of Seven Colours, is a more impressive lake, that you’ll enjoy during this tour. But, anyway, at the visitor centre, you’ll pay the entrance fee.

Entrance Fee

The price for entering Pastoruri Glacier near Huaraz is S/30 ($8USD) per person. This is the standard price for day trips to the Huascaran National Park.

FYI – Beck and I paid for a Huascaran National Park 4–30 day pass for S/150 ($38USD) per person. We were able to use this pass to enter Pastoruri Glacier. This pass was also required for entry to Laguna 69, Churup, Hualcacoccha, Llaca, Shallap and twice required for the Santa Cruz trek. By visiting more than 5 places at Huascaran National Park, it’s worth buying this pass. Otherwise, you’d need to pay S/30 ($8USD) for each visit.

Pastoruri Glacier checkpoint

Pumapampa: The Lake of Seven Colours

The first worthwhile attraction during the tour is the Lake of Seven Colours and its thermal waters at Pumapampa. Most tours will make a quick stop here, so you can check out the bubbling geothermal activity of the lake.

During this stop, you’ll also get to appreciate the lake and its interesting blend of colours. Essentially, the small lake merges with the high plains, that sits at the bottom of the mountains. It’s certainly a beautiful part of the national park.

Puya Raimondi

After this quick stop, you’re only a short drive away from the next stop. In fact, this next stop is for a bit longer, as you’re given time to explore the incredible Puya Raimondi. These are amazing plants, that grow up to 15 metres high. You’ll find many of these plants covering this small part of the national park. In fact, Puya Raimondi is only found in one other place in the Huascaran National Park. They’re also found in the nearby Queshque Valley, which we explored during the Laguna Queshquecocha trek. During this part of the tour, you’ll also explore some other geothermal waters.

FYI – the Puya Raimondi are nicknamed the ‘Queen of the Andes‘.

Pastoruri Glacier Hike

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 3.5km
  • Time: 1–2 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 155m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Nevado Pastoruri Car Park

Finally, you’ll reach the trailhead for the short Pastoruri Glacier hike. Starting at around 4,800 metres above sea level, you’ll likely feel out of breath without much effort. From the get-go, the paved trail gently ascends, leaving you pretty buggered!

After 1km or so, you’ll pass a glacial lake to your right. Then, after another 500 metres, you’ll arrive at a viewing platform, which reveals awesome views of Pastoruri Glacier. And, you’ll also have nice views of the surrounding mountains. So, don’t forget to turn around!

If anything, our favourite views of the glacier weren’t from the viewing platform. Rather, if you descend the platform and approach the glacial lake directly at the foot of the glacier, you’ll enjoy the best views. Specifically, you’ll have an epic mirror reflection of the glacier bouncing delightfully off the lake. This is a wonderful spot for photography.

Beck looks at Pastoruri Glacier

Of course, the best way to enjoy the ice spectacle is to approach the heavily crevassed areas, as far as the boundary ropes allow. Seeing the spectacular blue ice was a moment I’ll never forget.

Surrounding the glacier seems to be never-ending beauty. Thankfully, you’ll have plenty of time to explore it and other small lakes around.

After visiting Pastoruri Glacier, one of the most amazing glaciers in Peru, you’ll make the 2–2.5 hour journey back to Huaraz.

Pastoruri Glacier Facts

Before you visit Pastoruri Glacier, get to know these fun facts. A lot of which were not discussed (not in English at least) by the guide during the tour.

  • The Pastoruri Glacier hike reaches just under 5,000 metres above sea level.
  • The glacier occupies areas as high as 5,250 metres above sea level.
  • It’s one of the only glaciers in the world accessible by road.
  • It’s one of the few glaciers remaining in tropical areas.
  • Pastoruri Glacier is a cirque type of glacier.
  • It’s 8 square kilometres in size and around 4 kilometres long. Although, as mentioned, it’s retreating and reducing in size due to climate change.
Dan admires Pastoruri Glacier

Where to Stay in Huaraz, Peru

Of course, if you’re doing the Pastoruri Glacier tour from Huaraz, you’ll need a place to stay. We’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxury options.

  • Budget – Accommodation Bella-Vista: this is a good option for travellers on a budget. At Accommodation Bella-Vista, you can expect a nice stay that’s great value for money. There are dorm rooms and also private rooms on offer.
  • Mid-range – Krusty Hostel B&B: Beck and I really enjoyed our stay at Krusty Hostel B&B. It’s one of the most highly-rated accommodations in Huaraz. The hostel itself is very spacious and comfortable. It features a large shared kitchen, which includes a free breakfast.
  • Luxury – Cordillera Hotel: this is possibly the best hotel in Huaraz. Cordillera Hotel is quite a modern establishment with lovely rooms and excellent facilities. If you’re tired from exploring Huaraz, this is the perfect place to relax and recover.
Dan at Krusty Hostel

Altitude Acclimatisation

Before you explore Pastoruri Glacier, you should properly acclimatise. Altitude sickness (AKA Acute Mountain Sickness) is a common illness experienced by travellers when they 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. 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 numerous ways to avoid altitude sickness. But, the single 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 explore. 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, Beck and I hiked Laguna Wilcacocha (3,710m), then Paron (4,300m), Churup (4,450m) and Laguna 69 (4,600m), before visiting Pastoruri Glacier (5,000m). As a result, we didn’t suffer from any altitude sickness. But, of course, this isn’t always a guarantee.

How to Prevent Altitude Sickness

There are some other tips you can follow to reduce your chances of getting altitude sickness. Firstly, don’t rush when you’re hiking. Walk slowly and take it easy. Secondly, eat lighter meals and don’t eat them too quickly. Also, stay hydrated. In addition, you may also benefit from coca leaves, tea or sweets. This is what the locals recommend. Finally, there are altitude sickness tablets (such as Diamox) available. But, if you acclimatise properly, you shouldn’t need to take these.

Travel Insurance

SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Beck and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times. This insurance isn’t just for digital nomads, it’s for everyone and anyone needing travel insurance for their trips. The Nomad Insurance is great value for money with just a small additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract – you can cancel any time you want, which will take effect the following month.

For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting days or weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more. Specifically, Nomad Insurance includes medical cover as well as standard cover for travel-related mishaps.

SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future. Press on the image below to find out more.

Pastoruri Glacier (Nevado Pastoruri) FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about Pastoruri Glacier in Peru.

What’s the Difference Between Pastoruri Glacier and Nevado Pastoruri?

There is no actual difference between Pastoruri Glacier and Nevado Pastoruri. Generally speaking, Spanish speakers call the glacier, Nevado Pastoruri. In Spanish, ‘nevado’ means ‘glacier; so, ipso facto, Nevado Pastoruri is the name used by Spanish speakers. Interestingly, when we arrived at the glacier, we saw the term ‘Glaciar Pastoruri‘ on the official signage, rather than ‘Nevado Pastoruri’. That’s despite most Peruvians and Spanish speakers calling the glacier ‘Nevado Pastoruri’, rather than ‘Glacier Pastoruri’!

Do You Need to Book a Tour to Visit Pastoruri Glacier?

Yes, it isn’t possible to visit Pastoruri Glacier in Peru independently as there are no public transport options. Of course, you wouldn’t need to book a tour if you had your own vehicle.

How Difficult is the Pastoruri Glacier Hike?

We have rated the hike as easy. That’s because it’s only a short hike (approx. 3.5km) on a paved trail that’s easy to navigate. And, compared with other hikes in Huaraz, this hike is certainly one of the easiest. But, of course, it’s at high altitude. So, this makes it somewhat challenging. Of course, as long as you acclimatise properly and take your time, the hike should be relatively easy.

What Do You See On The Pastoruri Glacier Tour?

Apart from the glacier, you’ll also stop at a few attractions in Huascaran National Park. This includes Patococha Lake, the Lake of Seven Colours and the Puya Raimondi.

When is the Best Time to Visit?

Pastoruri Glacier weather can be unpredictable because it’s obviously located in the mountains. But, your chances of good weather are better in the dry season, which runs from May to October. But, this period also coincides with the peak tourist season. So, the dry season is when the glacier will be at its busiest.

All in all, we still think it’s best to visit in the dry season. We’d rather have good weather and clear skies, even if we had to share it with a few other tourists. Although, Beck and I did visit in the dry season in June. And, we encountered only brief periods of sunshine at the glacier. It was mostly overcast and rained.

Is It Worth Visiting?

Yes – it’s breathtaking. You should definitely go visit Pastoruri Glacier in Peru before it melts and disappears!

What Countries Share a Region of Glaciers in South America?

Glaciers in South America are found along the high Andes Mountains. More than half of the Andean range is located in Chile and Argentina. But, you’ll also find some glaciers dotted throughout Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia.

Other Hikes in Huaraz

There are so many great hikes to do in Huaraz. That’s why Beck and I spent over a month there trekking. We highly recommend doing the following trails when you visit (guides coming soon). Below you’ll find some of the best day hikes in Huaraz, as well as multi-day hikes.

What to Wear and Pack

When visiting Pastoruri Glacier in Peru, you should also pack water, snacks, lunch, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.

For a better hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Or, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a backpacking trip in Huaraz, read our Ultimate Packing Checklist.

Bonus Tips

  • Explore other parts of Huascaran National Park: visiting Pastoruri Glacier in Huaraz is barely scratching the surface! Read our Huaraz hiking guide to check out our selection of the best hikes to do at this national park.
  • Use Busbud: a convenient way to book bus tickets in advance at a very reasonable rate. We used Busbud to book our bus tickets from Lima to Huaraz.
  • If you get motion sickness, be prepared: the road leading to the glacier is winding and bumpy. Have some motion sickness tablets at the ready.
Pastoruri Glacier pinterest

Are you also planning on travelling to Central America? Check out our guides on Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

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