Huascarán National Park

Huascarán National Park



Location: 12 mi (40 km) from Huaraz Map

Info: INRENA, Avenida Centenao 905, Huaraz

Tel. 043 422 086


Description of Huascarán National Park

The Huascarán National Park, declared a protected natural area on July 1, 1975, as a Biosphere Reserve in 1977 and as a Natural Heritage Site in 1985, is located in the Peruvian Region of Áncash, famous for having in its territory 20 snow-capped peaks that exceed 6,000 meters above sea level, and the highest mountain in Peru and in the entire intertropical zone: the Huascarán snow-capped massif from which it gets its name.

The Huascarán region was inhabited by the man from Cueva del Guitarrero from 12,560 BC. C., one of the oldest human settlements in Peru; subsequently, sedentary settlements emerged with a social, political and religious base associated with nature as an essential part of their cultural and religious imaginary, among these civilizations the Chavin, Recuay and Inca cultures stood out. Centuries later, with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors and settlers under the command of Francisco Pizarro between 1532 and 1600, the region and its inhabitants were divided into various territorial subdivisions, among which the Huaylas encomiendas to the west and Conchucos to the east stood out, whose purpose The main objective was to exploit the mineral veins rich in gold and silver in the mountains and punas, for which large haciendas and mining mills were formed. This economic activity boomed for about 400 years until the territory of the park was declared a protected natural area and only for economic activities that directly benefit the peasant communities that are located within its jurisdiction. As of 2013, the park had a population of 83,047 inhabitants spread over 50 population centers.

The expeditions organized for research and exploration purposes began in the 1860s, when the researcher Antonio Raymondi decided to cross and study the Cordillera Blanca and the surrounding territory. Later, during the first half of the 20th century, several scientific expeditions were carried out headed by European and North American scientists, among which Annie Peck, Philipp Borchers, Hans Kinzl and August Weberbauer stand out, who would be the first to step on the summits of the Huascarán snow-capped massif and other peaks above 6000 m above sea level In 1964, the The Forest and Hunting Service of Peru was commissioned to supervise the Cordillera Blanca area, prohibiting the logging and hunting of native species. In 1977, UNESCO recognized the Park as a Biosphere Reserve and in 1985 declared it a Natural Heritage of Humanity. In 2004, its administration was transferred to the National Service of Natural Protected Areas by the State. Since then, the protection of the park and its buffer zone includes a large number of habitats, natural species and around 50 archaeological sites.

The national park extends over an area of ​​3,400 km², comprising 434 lagoons, 712 glaciers, deep valleys above the Quechua region and 41 rivers that feed the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean basins, these characteristics make it one of the most important in the country in hydrological potential. Hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have been documented, including many that have been put in danger of extinction and threatened. Forests and grasslands also include various plant species. The park offers numerous and varied recreational activities, including mountain climbing, camping, boating, fishing and sightings. The affirmed and paved roads allow access to the areas of greatest tourist activity; as well as certain lagoons and waterfalls. Since 2017 it has hosted the Downhill Skateboarding World Circuit organized by the International Downhill Federation, with the Yaku Raymi event held in the months of May and November.


Place names

The park is named after the highest mountain in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru and the entire intertropical zone, the Huascarán snow-capped massif. The word Huascarán comes from the Ancashino Quechua word waska ('rope or rope') and ran ('verbal or adverbial suffix'), so huascarán means arranged like a rope or in a more appropriate interpretation to its context: chain of mountains.



During the division of the supercontinent Pangea, the eastern territory of the current Cordillera de los Andes — at that time a plateau with peaks that reached a thousand meters — was an immense and dense savannah that formed the shore of a sea that entered from the current Colombia to northern Bolivia. This temperate ecosystem on the shores of the sea with tributary rivers of great flow that descended from the original Andes Mountain Range led to the proliferation of various species of dinosaurs, which bequeathed an extensive deposit of footprints and fossils in the current south-eastern territory of the park. national, in lands that were formed during the Albian stage during the Lower Cretaceous and are now over 4000 m a.s.l. n. m..

Precolumbian era
The human presence in the region dates from approximately 13,000 BC, in and around the park there are several archaeological sites that show that occupations at altitudes above 3700 m a.s.l. n. m.. were quite common in their time, the best known remains are Guitarrero, La Galgada, Tumshucaico (Caraz), Huaricoto (Marcará), Honko Pampa, Ichic Tiog (Chacas) and Chavín de Huántar. For thousands of years, the inhabitants of both slopes crossed the Cordillera Blanca through the Santa Cruz-Huaripampa, Llanganuco-Morococha, Honda-Juitush, Uquian-Ututo-Shongo, and Olleros-Chavín ravines. On the flanks of the mountain range and in several of its ravines there are vestiges of large extensions of agricultural terraces and ancient corrals. Crop and pasture areas were supplied with water provided by ingenious systems of dams and canals.

33 archaeological sites belonging to different cultures have been identified, mainly influenced by the Chavín culture and well-maintained remains of Inca influence on the coast and eastern highlands, scattered throughout the different ecological levels of the park, terraced systems, roads, chullpas, tombs and fortifications.

viceroyalty and republic
During the viceroyalty, the territory of the park was acquired by wealthy Portuguese, Spanish and Creole families, generally military men who had stood out in Europe or America. These families founded large estates in order to exploit the adjoining territory rich in minerals. Mining continued without interruption for four hundred years and would be consolidated with the arrival of the Republic. The lands that initially belonged to the peasant communities were completely taken away from them, which is why numerous complaints were registered by indigenous people against the landowners, who placed gates and mayordomos at the entrances to the various streams, claiming access to the forests for firewood, pastures and other natural resources of the high zone.

Eventually, the haciendas developed their own methods of using the resources. This process of privatization of the highlands of what is now the Huascarán National Park was accompanied in the second half of the 19th century by indigenous protests known as the Atusparia Rebellion, which were associated with the continuation of the collection of indigenous tribute. , despite the loss of communal lands, and the abuse of the authorities in charge. Subsequently, starting in 1969, the agrarian reform process handed over the lands in the lower areas of the valleys to the local populations, and reserved the higher areas as a government-protected area, which were in the colony “tierras del comuno”. », where the pastures, forests, lagoons and glaciers were found.

In the 1860s, Italian scientist Antonio Raimondi conducted the first detailed study of the geology of this region and published the book, "The Department of Ancash and its Mineral Riches" (1873). In addition, he included observations on the biological and archaeological richness of the Callejón de Huaylas and the Conchucos area.

The view of the Yungay mountain range made such a pleasant impression on me that I decided to examine it more closely by touching, as it were, the snow with my hand, that is, going up the ravine to its origin, crossing the snow-capped mountain range and passing through there to the Pomabamba Province.

Between 1880 and 1900, German scientists Gustav Steinmann (geologist), August Weberbauer (botanist) and Wilhelm Sievers (geographer) carried out more detailed studies within the Cordillera Blanca. On the other hand, the Frenchman A. C. de Carmand extended Raimondi's observations on mineral deposits.


In May 1904, Reginald Enock, an English engineer, attempted to climb Huascarán, reaching only 5,100 meters. On September 2, 1908, the American Annie Peck, accompanied by two Swiss guides, Gabriel Zumtaugwald and Rudolf Taugwalder, led the first expedition that culminated in the summit of the north peak of Huascarán, after three frustrated attempts in 1904 and 1906.

In 1932, several members of the Austro-German Alpine Club began scientific expeditions to the Cordillera Blanca, including the first ascent of Huascarán Sur. The group was made up of scientists Philipp Borchers, Hans Kinzl and Erwin Schneider, who, based on their explorations in the mountain range, published the book "Die Weisse Kordillere" in 1935, considered the first systematic study of the Cordillera Blanca. New maps were produced highlighting the northern and southern sections of the range. The club's expeditions conquered, between 1932 and 1938, the peaks of the snowy mountains Huascarán, Artensoraju, Huandoy, Chopicalqui, Copa, Quitaraju, Pucahirca, Contrahierbas and other peaks of the Cordillera Blanca. All the ascents were carried out with the assistance of Yungaino porters, among which the following stood out: Faustino Rojo, Miguel Rojo, Néstor Montes, Lizardo Montes, Augusto Gómez, Pablo Castillo, Luis Vega, Eusebio Carrasco, Donato León, Luis Laurenti, Luis Paredes, Severino Chavarría, Alberto Bautista, Humberto and Santiago Bautista.

In 1950, the cartographer Fritz Ebster was able to represent the entire mountain range on a single map for the first time. Kinzl led other expeditions in 1936, 1939 and 1954, which continued the plan of climbing and studying the snow-capped mountains, glaciers and lagoons. In collaboration with Erwin Schneider, he published an illustrated book, "Cordillera Blanca" (1950), with a trilingual text.

In 1984, the American botanist David Smith carried out a census of the Andean flora, registering 799 species within the Huascarán National Park.

creation of the park
The creation of the park dates back to the 1960s, when the senator for Áncash, Augusto Guzmán Robles, presented a bill to Congress for the creation of the protected natural area. Following these bases in 1963, the Forestry and Hunting Service proceeded to the first delimitation of the park, initially named Cordillera Blanca National Park, and in 1966 it was changed by the Huascarán National Park Board to the current name. The initial area covered an area of ​​321,000 hectares, Ministerial Resolution No. 101 was also issued, which prohibited the felling and hunting of native species. On July 1, 1975, the Peruvian government created the Huascarán National Park through Supreme Decree No. 0622-75-AG on the final extension of 340,000 hectares.

On March 1, 1977, UNESCO recognized it as a Biosphere Reserve that encompasses the core of the park, the buffer zone, and the transition zone that includes several towns and rural settlements. The total area of ​​the Biosphere Reserve is 1,115,800 hectares, which is equivalent to 30% of the departmental territory. Finally, on December 14, 1985, it was also declared a Natural Heritage of Humanity.

The ecological institutions Birdlife International and Conservation International recognized the nucleus of the park as an Important Bird Conservation Area (IBAs, for its acronym in English 'Important Bird Areas'), due to its high endemism and threats to its populations. While in the area of ​​the Biosphere Reserve, three more IBAs were recognized: PE069 Champará, PE072 Cerro Huanzala-Huallanca, PE079 Cordillera Huayhuash.

In 2004, the administration of the park was transferred to the National Service of Natural Protected Areas by the State (Sernanp), which was created the same year. Since then, the protection of the park and its buffer zone includes a large number of habitats, natural species and around 50 archaeological sites.



Location and general characteristics
The Huascarán National Park is located in the central highlands of Peru, located entirely in the department of Áncash, parallel to the Cordillera Negra. Ecologically, it encompasses the Suni and Janca biogeographic regions and includes the entire Cordillera Blanca. Politically, it occupies part of the territory of the provinces of Bolognesi, Asunción, Carhuaz, Huaraz, Huari, Huaylas, Mariscal Luzuriaga, Pomabamba, Recuay, and Yungay. It extends over 3,400 km² (340,000 hectares) with an extension of 158 km in length. north - south, and 34 km from east - west, it is delimited by 110 milestones in UTM coordinates.

The territory of the national park is very rugged; It includes the entire Cordillera Blanca with its eastern flanks in the area of ​​Los Conchucos and the western in the area of ​​the Callejón de Huaylas. It has snowy peaks with altitudes ranging from 5,300 to 6,757 m above sea level. n. m. (Huascarán Sur, the highest in Peru and in the entire intertropical zone); the deeply encased ravines that are located transversely to the Cordillera Blanca, have very steep slopes with a gradient between 85% and 90% that decreases in the part south of the national park with slopes that fluctuate between 30% to 60%. The width of these depressions varies between 200 to 400 meters, and in some places they present extensive lagoons such as those of Llanganuco, Parón and Rajucolta, product of deglaciation.

The landscape below 5000 m a.s.l. It is typified by a mixture of small and large pampas surrounded by terrain with semi-steep slopes. These pampas, of fluvial-alluvial origin, have sand-clay as their predominant material. While the territories above 5000 meters have lateral moraines caused by deglaciation and debris cones flanked by very steep terrain, in some places totally vertical.

Cordillera Blanca
The Cordillera Blanca extends almost 180 kilometers from north to south, it is located entirely within the Huascarán National Park. It has a total of 663 glaciers, 16 snow-capped peaks above 6,000 meters above sea level. n. m. and another 17 above 5000 m a.s.l. n. m.. It also has more than 269 lagoons and 41 rivers that drain into the Santa and Marañón rivers.



The geological formations identified in the park area range from the upper Jurassic to the recent Quaternary, and are made up of sedimentary, volcanic, intrusive rocks and Quaternary deposits, which cover the Chicama, Chimú, Santa, Carhuaz, Calipuy formations. It also has structural features, folds and faults, such as the Cordillera Blanca fault that forms the batholith of the same name.

The geological structures in the area are very complex, the Jurassic and Cretaceous formations are strongly folded and faulted. These deformations are due to the Andean orogenesis at the end of the Cretaceous and the subsequent phenomena of the emplacement of the Cordillera Blanca batholith and the spirogenic movement that affected the Andes in general. The sedimentary rocks that outcrop in the study area are affected by several folds, with a predominant northwest-southeast orientation, coinciding with the direction of the Andes mountain range. These folds are cut by faults of various magnitudes.

Fifteen geological formations have been studied in the core of the park, of which the Granodiorite Tonalite formations stand out with 24.6% of the total territory, the Chicama formation with 22.8% and the glacial, moraine and fluvioglacial deposits with 19.8%. , 10.2% and 7.8% respectively.

Active fault Cordillera Blanca

This fault, which reaches approximately 200 kilometers, limits to the west with the Batholith of the Cordillera Blanca, extending from Conococha to the south, to Corongo in the north. It originated in the Neogene-Quaternary boundary, when the Andes began their uplift 5.3 million years ago. Later, in the Quaternary period (2.5 million years), when this territory was still a plateau with territories that did not exceed 1000 meters in height, the fault began greater activity, greatly affecting it and causing the sinking of the western block (Callejón de Huaylas) and the rising of the eastern one (Sierra Oriental de Áncash) that rose 3000 meters at a rate of 1 mm/year, a constant that continues today. Seismic geology studies show that the fault is still active, therefore it is a continental or intraplate seismogenic source, where violent ruptures with geological displacements of up to 3 meters can occur, causing earthquakes with a magnitude of up to 7.4 ML.

In the territory of the park, the glaciers are distributed along the 180 kilometers of length, from the snow-capped Tuco in the south, to the outskirts of the snow-capped Champará in the north. About 27 glaciers exceed 6000 m a.s.l. and about 200 between 5,000 and 6,000 m. Most of the rivers originating in the valleys of this mountain range drain into the Santa River basin. The area covered by snow comprises 504.4 km², which represents 14.84% of the total area of ​​the park. There are 712 glaciers that represent 486,037 km² and an estimated volume of 18,458 km³ of hydrological potential in solid state.

The Santa River basin, in which the western flank of the national park is located, has been considered one of the six basins most vulnerable to the effects of climate change at the national level. According to studies carried out by the Glaciology and Water Resources Unit of Peru; Within the national park, in 1997 there was a total area of ​​693.72 km² compared to the 486,037 inventoried in 2003, which is equivalent to 30% of the glacial area lost in just six years. While within the Cordillera Blanca the decrease in the glacial area is 26% in thirty-three years.

Within the limits of the protected area, 434 lagoons have been identified, representing an area of ​​27.7 km². Most of them are of glacial origin. Bathymetric surveys have only been carried out in 40 of them, resulting in a volume of 435,086,656 cubic meters.

The continental divide of the Americas, the dividing line between the waters that flow into the Pacific Ocean and those that flow into the Atlantic, crosses the park in the middle continuously. So the two parts have an almost equal surface ratio. There are three main rivers that originate in the park, the Santa River, the Yanamayo River and the Pativilca, the first two flow in the same direction from south to north: the Santa receives the contribution of 23 rivers of the Cordillera Blanca, which have their origin in 457 glaciers and flows into the Pacific Ocean, the Yanamayo River receives the contribution of 16 rivers, which have their origin in 192 glaciers and drain into the Marañón River, which flows into the Amazon to flow into the Atlantic. Finally, the Pativilca receives the flow of the Piskaragra River, which has its origin in 14 glaciers and runs from east to west to empty into the Pacific.


The park is located in an eminently tropical area. The origin of rainfall in this particular area is related to the transport of fairly humid air masses from the Amazon and to a lesser extent from the Pacific. The air masses that rise up the flank of the mountains facing the Pacific Ocean lose moisture during their ascent. The climate of this area is predominantly dry and cold. This lack of humidity is influenced by the atmospheric stability of the desert coast that affects the western flank of the national park. In contrast, on the eastern flank, the large masses of air caused by evaporation in the Amazon region have a large amount of humidity, which, when ascending the mountain range, condenses and solidifies, forming the snows of the Cordillera Blanca.

Territories between 3800 - 5000 m a.s.l.

The climate in the territories above 3,800 to 5,000 m a.s.l. n. m., which encompasses the Suni and Puna natural regions, is marked by two clearly differentiated stages during the year. With abundant rains, hailstorms and snowfalls between the months of November to March; and a marked dry season between May and October, with sunny days that reach 15 °C and nights of intense cold in which frosts are frequent and temperatures below 0 °C.

The population within the buffer zone is 83,047 inhabitants, which is equivalent to 8% of the total Ancashi population; while in the nucleus of the park there are 50 human settlements, all of them are indigenous peasant communities. The entire population is distributed on both sides of the park: 40% in the Callejón de Huaylas, and the remaining 60% in the Sierra Oriental de Áncash.

Human development
Educational level and health
Most of the inhabitants have Quechua as their mother tongue with moderate use of Spanish. On the other hand, a third of the inhabitants are illiterate, 20% have secondary education and 7% have higher education. 66% of the population of the park and the buffer zone do not have access to health services. This shows that only 6% are affiliated with the Essalud government program.

life zones
Holdridge's Life Zones system establishes a classification of different land areas taking into account the bioclimatic behavior in the area, which depends on the latitudinal location, altitude and humidity. Of the total of one hundred and four life zones described for the world through this system, Peru has eighty-four, while the national park has eleven, nine in its nucleus and two in its buffer zone.

Tropical desert scrub (md-T). It exists only in the buffer zone, from 2100 m a.s.l. up to 2800, it has 695 hectares which represents 0.28% of its territory; It is characterized by the abundance of forests and climates that fluctuate between 20 and 22°C, with great potential for agricultural activity.

Seven different areas are defined that contain a wide variety of microclimates. This configures a great diversity of vegetation. 779 high Andean species have been detected, including 340 genera and 104 families.

In this plant variety, the Bromeliaceae family is represented by the Puya (Puya raimondii), a species that is characterized by having the largest inflorescence known on the entire planet. There are also forests of queñual (Polylepis spp.) and abundant grasses.

You can see puya Raymondi stands located mainly in the Carpa and Queshque streams. There are also relict forests of quisuar (Buddleja coriacea) and queñua (Polylepis sp), which are located mainly to the north of the Llanganuco sector. There are also high Andean prairies, puna grass and various oconales (bofedales), located mainly above 4,500 m a.s.l.

As for the fauna, due to the good condition of the plant formations, there are numerous species. Thus, more than 120 species of birds and 10 of mammals are recorded. Among the most outstanding birds are the Andean condor, the torrent duck and the puna partridge, the slang duck, the Andean duck. There is also the giant coot and the Andean gull.

Among the mammals, the wild cat, the Andean cat, the spectacled bear, the ruminant taruca with horns larger than the deer, and the vicuña stand out. Other species of importance are the gray deer, the puma, the vizcacha, the weasel or muca, the añaz or skunk, the Andean fox, among others.