“Un poco mas a paraiso,” the guide told me as I made another stop. I gasped for another breath. It felt like we’d been hiking forever but it had only been a few hours. Consistent uphill on high altitude is tough. I couldn’t see Jon anymore. I was far behind. I started to regret that I told him to go ahead. The guides had also left and I was on my own. I told myself, “You can do this; a little more to paradise.”
I had never heard of Laguna 69 until I came to Peru. Jon had been looking forward to seeing the place while I had no idea what to expect. The day before the hike to Laguna 69, Jon and I did a tour to Pastoruri Glacier, also located near Huaraz. According to some, this is one of the best places to practice hiking in high altitude. Pastoruri Glacier is at a whopping 5000masl! It was only a 30-minute walk to the glacier but still, I found it quite challenging. Breathing is difficult in high altitude. (I will write about the Pastoruri Glacier soon). Considering my state after the walk, Jon and I almost considered to abandon the idea of hiking Laguna 69. It was going to be a lot harder. Laguna 69 is at 4000masl, the hike is mostly uphill and much longer. Don’t take the high altitude lightly. Some people had to turn back from the hike to Laguna 69.
I was worried about doing more than 5 hours trekking uphill in high altitude but I just had to do it. Our day started early with 3 hours driving to the Huascaran National Park. After a quick stop for coca tea (which is beneficial for high altitude) and a short visit to Llaganuco Lake, we started our hike. There were 10 people and 2 guides in our group. We all started together but eventually went on our own after a few minutes. The start was relatively flat, looking over some fields and the mountains still far from sight. After a while, the ascent started, we had to conquer a few big hills to get to the other side of the park. It got more difficult and some parts were a little steep. At the end of the big hills was a small lake surrounded by mountains, it’s good for a stop, but it’s not Laguna 69 yet. After the lake was a flat valley surrounded by mountains. Huascaran, the highest of all is not far from sight. Then we pushed on to the last and most difficult part of the hike, a steep uphill section that lasted for almost an hour. The mountains hid themselves again behind the huge rocks, never giving a clue how much farther the mysterious lake would be. I think I was the last person on the way up. People on their way back from the lake sent their encouragements, “it’s really close”. Finally, I saw Jon at the end of the track waiting for me and behind him was the dazzling blue water of Laguna 69. We made it. It’s amazing!
The Glacial Lake, Laguna 69
I cannot recall how many times I exclaimed how great Laguna 69 was. The lake’s bright blue colour was truly majestic. Behind the lake are snow-capped mountains and a stunning waterfall. I had never been to a place that beautiful. It is definitely one of the most impressive natural wonders I’ve seen. It was a difficult day hike to Laguna 69 but it is truly worth it.
Details: Laguna 69 from Huaraz
Laguna 69 is located in Huascaran National Park, 3 hours away from the town of Huaraz, in northern Peru. We paid 30 soles for the tour and 10 soles for the National Park Entrance. The prices for the tours from Huaraz seem to vary a lot, so make sure to find the cheapest price. The pick-up was at 6 am and the trek started at about 9:45am, after a short stop for coca tea. The trek lasts for a total of 6 hours with an hour spent for lunch at the lake. Food and drinks are not provided so make sure to bring enough to last you the whole day. It’s another 3 hours back to Huaraz after the trek, with no stops for dinner. Also, to acclimatise, spend at least 1 night in Huaraz. You could also do the Pastoruri Glacier trek first to make sure you can actually do the Laguna 69 hike.
Have you done the day hike to Laguna 69 or any other glacial lakes? Let us know.