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The Quelccaya Glacier Hike

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 06-10-2022

Quelccaya is the second-largest tropical glacier in the world and is located in Cusco, in the eastern mountain range of the Peruvian Andes. This incredible region has a snowy area of 42 km² (137,795 ft) and a depth of 200 m (660 ft). The Quelccaya ice cap is larger than 9,000 football fields, so seeing it from the viewpoint or reaching the glacier's summit is a mind-blowing experience and an off-the-beaten-track adventure. Unfortunately, the Quelccaya ice cap shows signs of the impact of climate change and a decrease in snow level. So now is an ideal time to start planning a visit. Glaciers are the largest freshwater reserves on the planet. They are a source of water for agriculture, industrial activities, and domestic use. In addition, tropical glaciers are especially sensitive to climate change due to the specific climatic conditions in the tropics. The small lagoons around the glacier are also proof of the decline, as they occupy depressions left behind by the retreating glacier. 


Approaching the Quelccaya Glacier


The best way to get to the magnificent Quelccaya Glacier is to hike there with our help. Valencia Travel offers day trips to see this spectacular sight with your own eyes. We will take care of all details so you can relax, enjoy and reconnect with nature at its magnificent best without impacting the local environment.  We work hand in hand with local indigenous Andean communities from the region, and by booking this trek with us, you will be directly contributing to the local economy of these Andean communities.


Quelccaya Glaciar Trek



This majestic glacier is ideal for practicing adventure sports and appreciating nature, with numerous species of fauna, such as alpacas, llamas, and vicuñas calling this region home. The area comprises U-shaped valleys, glacial striations in the volcanic rocks, and the stunning lagoons of the Vilcanota Mountain Range.


Vilcanota Mountain Range


Our Qelccaya Trek is a unique privilege. Here you will experience the way of life of genuine mountain people, who, for hundreds of years, had minimal contact with the rest of Peru and retained their rich cultural heritage. This breathtaking trail skirts the vast ice cap of Qelccaya, the largest glacial area in the tropics.


Quelccaya Glacier


This remote and lesser-known route offers solitude, physical challenge, and high-altitude panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. The trip is a hike for about 3 hours from our camp to the glacier, explore it and return the same way to our base, where our bus will be waiting and return to Cusco.




The Andean Community of Phinaya, close to the Quelccaya Glacier, is over 5000 meters in elevation. The community is searching for ways to protect the glacier sustainably and conserve this sacred place through their ancestral knowledge and traditions. Include a community visit on your trip to the Quelccaya Glacier!



Phinaya by Night



Sibinacocha Lagoon

The Sibinacocha Lagoon is located at the foot of the Vilcanota mountain range, is of glacial origin, and has an extension of approximately 25 km (82 021 ft) and a depth of 150 m (490 ft). In addition to being surrounded by impressive glaciers, the Sibinacocha Lagoon is unique because its water has three colors that you can see clearly on a trip across the lagoon by boat. At first, you will see a bluish-green color, then it will turn intense turquoise, and after a while, the color of the water will turn pink. These changes occur because of the earth's color and sediments at the lake's depth.  In February and March, you can see migratory flamingos on the lagoon, making for an impressive sight!


Sibinacocha Lagoon with the Glacier in the Background


Please find out more about our trekking excursion to the Quelccaya Glacier here and experience nature at its magnificent best while you still have the opportunity!