Huaraz is the dream place for all trekking lovers. Nested at the foot of the amazing Cordillera Blanca mountain range, there are a number of treks that depart from there. Among the full day tours there is one that definitely stands out. We are talking about Lake 69, one of the most emblematic lagoons of Peru, a real must-do of the region.
The Beginning of the Hike
The tour leaves Huaraz at about 6 AM — this is an early start that you will need as a long day awaits you. It takes about three hours to get to the beginning of the trek – on the way you will stop at a local restaurant for a good, hot breakfast, as you probably did not have the time to get one earlier.
The road is only partly paved and gets slightly bumpy at the end, nothing unbearable though. About 15 minutes before the end of the bus ride, you will make a quick stop at the crystal-clear Llanganuco lagoons to take a few pictures. These lagoons usually make up a separate full day tour themselves, if you don’t fancy trekking that much. So by visiting Lake 69 you are actually including two of the best places of the Huaraz region in one day!
After getting off the bus, you start walking. The first bit of the trail is flat and together with the stunning views of the Cordillera Blanca, it makes a pleasant start. As you carry on walking you will find yourself gradually taking off layers of clothing as the sun glare gets stronger. For this reason we recommend that you should pack lightly as well. And make sure you have plenty of water, some fruit and a box lunch as there is nowhere to purchase food on the way.
After about an hour your breathing will get heavier and heavier as you start gaining altitude. That’s inevitable as the second section of the trail is mostly uphill. We are talking about two hours of hiking approximately. You need to focus on breathing well and some candies or coca leaves will help you with that. Oh, and don’t forget to turn around from time to time to enjoy the stunning view of Huascaran – Peru’s highest peak – standing behind you!
Climbing up the hills you will pass by a number of cow pastures and a couple of minor lagoons. You can stop there for a couple of breaks before the final stretch.
Lake 69, at last!
The last 300 m are tough, no doubt about it. You will need to take it easy without rushing it. Stay strong – the lagoon is not far! Although you do not see it till the very last turn. This makes the experience even more exciting and rewarding.
Lake 69 is an amazing place. If you are among the first to get there, then you will have a bit more time to take the perfect pictures you have always dreamt of. The bravest can even dive into its water: green, pristine… but cold! Otherwise simply lay on the rocky shore and enjoy the view.
The best time to visit Huaraz and Lake 69 is between May and September, during winter. Temperatures will be lower but you are likely to get a sunny day without many clouds.
After an hour or so at the lagoon, you will need to start making your way back to the bus, this time in about two hours, through the same trail, just downhill. You will be back in Huaraz by 7 PM.