Getting lost in the Stone Forest: Hatun Machay, Ancash, Peru

Getting lost in the Stone Forest: Hatun Machay, Ancash, Peru


The Cordillera Blanca is an absolutely magical mountain range located 400 km north of Lima. The range has countless numbers of glaciated peaks rising above 6000m, impeccable granite walls up to 950 meters, crystal clear alpine lakes, and a network of trails (or “Chakinanis” in Quechua) perfect for trekking and mountain biking. In short, the Cordillera Blanca is an Alpine playground for all things adventure.

The town of Huaraz is the perfect place to base yourself for adventures in the Cordillera Blanca and Negra. Huaraz has been the adventure capital of Peru for well over 30 years, and has everything from dirt cheap local food, and hostels to upscale western restaurants and luxury lodges. A great place to get oriented in Huaraz is the Casa de Guias located in Parque Periodista, or at one of the many agencies in Huaraz. We suggest stopping by QUECHUANDES located on Avenida Luzuriaga and talking to David and Marie. They are very sweet, eager to help, and they wrote the guidebook on rock climbing in Huaraz (see resources for more info).

Hatun Machay, meaning “big cave” in Quechua, is a sport climber’s dream. Hatun Machay has over 200 routes within an hour walk of the refugio, and at 4300m it is a perfect place to acclimatize for high altitude climbs.


Check out Topos Peru for online topos or visit QECHUANDES to buy the Guidebook


A sport rack of 12-16 quickdraws, and one 60 m rope gets you up almost every climb. Bring a crash pad for sampling the thousands of bouldering routes (most of which are open for first ascents). For camping we brought normal camping gear (0 degree down bags, it gets cold!).

Weather/Best Season

The seasons in the Cordillera Blanca are split into “Wet” and, “Dry”, with the weather in-between being much less predictable. The Dry season in the Cordillera Blanca is between late May to early September, with the most consistent weather for climbing big routes spanning from late June to early August. You can expect crystal clear blue skies every day from late June to early August, as well as the most tourists in town and in the more popular “Quebradas” (mountain valleys). The Wet season spans between November and March. During the Wet and In-between seasons, the weather pattern typically involves daily rain in the afternoon, with dry crisp mornings. If you find yourself in the area during these seasons, it’s much better to head to the many amazing bouldering areas around town, or rent a mountain bike to go ride the tasty singletrack that surrounds Huaraz. The most commonly used weather site is Mountain Forecast.

Time Needed

At least 2 full days of climbing, but easily can stay for a week.

Level of Experience

Hatun Machay is pretty relaxed as far as danger goes. As of 2016, there has been a disagreement between the previous owner, and the campesinos from the local community. The Campesinos chased the owner out, and thus began the drama. The owner has been returning at night to cut the first, and sometimes second bolt of easier climbs, which can easily be managed with a long pole, or stick clip.


We have tried to be as detailed and accurate as possible with the information included on this site to inspire and prepare you for your adventure ahead. However, no amount of information is a substitute for experience and judgment.  Weather, conditions, perception and experience level can cause this information to change.

Permits and Fees

As of 2016, the camping fee at the Refugio is 20 soles for three nights.

Getting There

To Huaraz from Lima: You can take a night or day bus, fly, or drive.

By Bus: There are loads of bus lines that run from Lima to Huaraz, and all typically take about 8 hours. We have found that Cruz Del Sur is the most consistent, safe, and easy to use. Click on the link above to view current prices, the times for Cruz Del Sur routes, and buy your ticket online. Cruz Del Sur has two terminals in Lima; one called Plaza Del Norte and one called Javier Prado. Plaza Del Norte is the closest to Lima International Airport, and should either cost around 30-50 soles from an unofficial cab outside the airport terminal, or 100 soles from the airport cab counter (Green Taxi). I have never had issues with the taxis outside the airport terminal, however there have been instances where unofficial taxis have robbed tourists and locals. If arriving too late to take a night bus from Lima, consider staying at Pay Purix Hostel. It is one of the closest hostels to the airport, provides airport pick-up (25 soles b/f midnight, 35 soles after midnight) and transfer to Plaza Norte in the morning (35 soles).

By Plane: LCPeru offers 50 minute flights to and from Huaraz on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for $109-$139 USD, however their luggage allowance is 15 kg for stored luggage and 5 kg hang luggage.

By Car: Huaraz is a 400km drive from Lima. Click here for directions.

To Recuay from Huaraz:

By Combi: Take a combi (a public 15 passenger van) from Huaraz to Catac for 3.5 soles (leave from the Catac Combi stop any local will know: say “Done salen los combis a Catac?”). When you arrive in Catac, take a taxi for 50 soles up to the refugio.

From Recuay to Antacocha: Take a taxi, or walk about 2-4 hours west from the cemetary, up from the river towards the large wall located above. Easily ask anyone in town (Donde esta Antacocha). There is water along the road, however be sure to ask a local if it is OK to drink (the water in the lake of Antacocha has too many minerals to drink).


Huaraz: The Climbing Guide by David Laza and Marie Timmermons is highly recommended.

Topos Peru: A great site with loads of topos, and more information about climbing in Huaraz (Los Olivos, Antacocha, Inkawaqanqa, and Hatun Machay), and Peru

Suggested trips and itineraries in the area:

Kate coming back from relaxing at the lake


La Esfinge

Bouldering, Artesanraju, 9 pitch climb

Mountain Biking the Cordillera Blanca and Negra

Rock and Ice in Ishinca Valley

Lee Neale

Lee Neale

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