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We would like to thank our guest blogger Aidan Rooney for sharing this blog with us.
Myself and my friend Peter had a couple of days free in Lima and we were looking for something fun-filled and adventurous to do outside of the city. We had seen pictures of Laguna 69 in travel agents across Lima and we had heard from backpackers who had been in Huaraz that this was an incredible trek to do and not to be missed.
We decided to book an overnight bus from Lima to Huaraz on Friday and a return to Lima on another overnight bus on the Sunday. We used Papaya Bus to book our tickets with Cruz del Sur online and got a good price on a semi-cama bus. We arrived in Huaraz at around 7am on a cool but clear Saturday morning.
Our trek was booked for Sunday morning so we had all of Saturday to explore the city of Huaraz. We had booked our Laguna 69 trek online on Find Local Trips for just 15 dollars with Andes X-Plorer which was cheaper than anyone else had paid on our trek. We were delighted with that and the fact we had the extra day to catch our breath.
It was recommended that we do some walking around the city to help us acclimatize to the altitude. We ventured around the plazas and into the local market and were amazed by the assortment of random things on sale. It seemed as though you could find anything in the world in this market from hiking boots, fruit and veg, old radios, and even children’s prams…so random!! After satisfying our thirst to explore some of Huaraz we avoided the temptation to quench our thirst for beer in one of Huaraz’s watering holes…and settled on having an early night!! We grabbed dinner in a pizzeria that was situated close to our hostel and afterwards we purchased some snacks and water for the trek in the morning.
At a sprightly 5am we were picked up on Sunday morning by a bubbly Alvaro, who would guide us for the day. We were tired, but a few minutes of Alvaro’s infectious enthusiasm had us looking forward to the adventure ahead. Laguna 69 is located in Huascaran National Park, which is approximately a 2 hour bus journey away from Huaraz. We stopped for breakfast when we were about half an hour away from Huascaran National Park. The location for breakfast was a delightful family-run outdoor restaurant. We were able to purchase hamburgers, fruit, coffee and tea amongst other things. Lots of people brought their own breakfast and simply enjoyed their food while taking in the views of the spectacular landscape.
After another 30 minutes on the bus we arrived at the breathtaking Llanganuco, a spectacular turquoise coloured lake surrounded by towering mountains. We were allowed get off the bus and admire this spectacle for a few minutes. Peter and myself managed to capture some fantastic photographs that portray the beauty and tranquility of this lake.
We started the trek at approximately 09:30 in perfect weather conditions. Everyone began walking at their own pace, some walking faster than others in order to be the first to feast their eyes on the magnificent Laguna 69.
We decided to take our time in order to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Huascaran National Park and also to ensure that we didn’t get altitude sickness. Neither myself nor Peter suffered from altitude sickness, only a small headache at the end of the trek.
This was due to the fact that we had only arrived in Huaraz the day before, so if you are worried about this, don’t worry you will be fine – just be sure to drink plenty of water and walk around the city of Huaraz for a few days before your trek to acclimatize yourself.
The trek up to Laguna 69 took approximately 3 hours and was full of spectacular scenery. We saw everything from cows to spectacular waterfalls cascading down the side of cliffs. There are plenty of opportunities to get beautiful photos and these opportunities make for a great excuse to take a break.
The first hour and a half of the trek isn’t too bad at all. It starts off with a flat enough walk and gradually increases in steepness. The last quarter of the trek upwards is by far the hardest part. It is a steep uphill walk at high altitude. It is daunting when you are at the bottom of this particular section and you can see small dots of the raincoats of other trekkers who are making their way up. My recommendation is to put your pride aside and take as many breaks as you need, and of course drink plenty of water. When you reach the top of this particular point in the trek it is only another 15 minutes of walking on flat ground until you get your first glimpse of the magnificent Laguna 69.
You can see a glimpse of otherworldly blue through the rocks that gets bigger and bigger until finally you see the incredible Laguna 69 surrounded by snow-peaked mountains. A truly incredible site to behold.
We spent approximately one hour in total at the lagoon itself. Some brave people dared to jump into the lagoon and have a swim around. If this is something that you are planning on doing be sure to bring a towel and don’t forget about the long and cold walk back to the bus. I found the walk down to be much easier compared to the trek up, naturally enough.
The only thing that was different about the trek back to the bus and the trek up to Laguna 69, besides the decrease in altitude was that the weather was much worse. About an hour into the trek back to the bus it started to really pour down so be sure to bring waterproof clothing as anyone who didn’t quickly regretted it.
The bus back to Huaraz took around 2 hours and we got dropped back to our hostel at approximately 6pm feeling tired but proud of our accomplishment.
Our hostel kindly allowed us to shower before we dined on some local food Llunca de Gallina (chicken soup prepared with boiled potatoes and yellow spices) Delicious!! Although if you are feeling brave try the Cuy (Guinea Pig), another famous Peruvian dish that is a specialty in the highlands. We grabbed our overnight bags that they had stored for us (free of charge) and headed to the bus terminal to catch our bus back to Lima.
Aidan Rooney, an Irish backpacker travelling around South America for the year. Follow him on Instagram (@aidanrooney09).