Our second hike took us to Laguna 69, the most popular day hike in Huaraz. Another 5am start and while the journey was a treat after the bumpy road to Paramount mountain, we had a car crash and a police chase to keep us entertained at that crazy hour! This hike was definitely tougher due to altitude but in parts was a bit easier than Paramount due to the presence of a clear path to follow as opposed to rock climbing!
Laguna 69 is located in Huascaran National Park, which has over 400 lakes in total. On arrival to the park we had two stops at lake viewpoints before reaching the starting point of our hike. As it was quite early we were treated to some amazing views as the sun came up and reflected the mountains in the lakes.
Our hike to Laguna 69 took us on many different trails and over the course of about three hours we walked through fields, forests, up hills, across rivers, under waterfalls and through a lot of cow poop. Our vistas changed from sprawling green landscapes to white snow-capped mountains and a rush of waterfalls and it was really cool to see so much variety over such a short distance.
The Laguna is located at an altitude of 4,600m above sea level so the last stretch to reach the lake was quite challenging but when we were a few metres out we could see the glowing turquoise colour and it was just enough motivation to reach the reward and enjoy lunch by the lake before returning to hike back to the bus!
Our return bus journey to Huaraz treated us to views of a number of local carnival celebrations which were beginning on February 28th. A typical ritual for the Carnavales in the Peruvian highlands is called yunza – where a huge tree is planted somewhere, full of presents and gifts. The people dance around the yunza and the idea is to cut the tree so that it falls down. Apparently the couple that gives the final cut before the tree falls down, is in charge of the organization of the yunza next year. We saw a few local villages dancing around the “yunza” as well as some parades when we got back to Huaraz.
Our final hike in Huaraz was to a day trip to a local glacier named Pastoruri. The glacier was located just over an hour from Huaraz. On the way we stopped at a valley where the “Puya Raimondi” plant grows – they were huge tall plants that looked like cacti.
At the second viewing point I made two new friends with some lovely llamas.
On reaching the glacier it was freeeezing as expected with some snow for added effects! We had about an hour to explore before catching the bus back to Huaraz. The glacier occupies an Andean peak around 5,250 metres above sea level.
Akilpo hostel is really well set up for travellers and it was so common for them to store baggage after check out. We left all our bags there while we visited the glacier and returned for showers and before catching a night bus to our next stop, Lima.
After the treat that was the Cruz Del Sur bus for the previous lengthy journey towards Huaraz, we couldn’t downgrade and it was our new go to for the longer distance buses. It didn’t disappoint yet again and we enjoyed a very smooth 12hour journey to Lima-this time with a chicken dinner and breakfast before arrival the next morning.