A whole week outside of Lima did me good! This side adventure was to a city that is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges. The Cordillera Blanca (white mountain range and the Cordillera Negro (black mountain range). HUARAZ – home to one of the largest trekking destinations in the world! I invited my friend Isaac, who accompanied me through a full week of hiking, trekking, adventures, and of course priceless memories while being surrounded by natural landscapes. We ended up doing a guided tour, four different hikes, camping for one night, and a day of exploring the city and planning all of our days accordingly!
These destinations include in and out of Huascaran National Park.
- Laguna 69
- Laguna Llaganuco
- A random mountain chose while making our own trai
- Laguna Churup
- Yungay, Cuaraz, Carhuaz, and a few other side stops along the way
Day 1 -The arrival
Isaac and I took the famous Cruz del Sur to Huaraz after Oriana said goodbye to us at our terminal in Lima. The busride roughly took 8ish hours from Lima to Huaraz and it was an incredibly scenic ride on the way there. We exited the city with seeing the impoverished slums of Lima on the way out as it got sandier and sandier.
After surpassing all the slow traffic of Lima, we finally made it out reaching a really dry region of the outskirts of Lima. We continued driving north following the coastline of the Pacific and slowly, vegetation crept along us as did small mountains. The scenery changed from desert to fields of agriculture and crops, which I assume is driven into the city for the markets. After receiving lunch, which was provided by Cruz del Sur, we continued asscending into the mountains with my ears popping more and more.
About 3/4 of the trip in, we finally started to see the white-capped mountains of the Andes! The feeling was incredible. When you get to the flatter lands of this area, it is just rolling hills, and all of a sudden there appeared the peaks in the distance with its beautifully white layered snow caps. We were close!
Another hour passed and we finally made it to Huaraz! The city, not how I imagined it, await our arrival for our fresh legs ready to be put to work for our adventures ahead. We got off our bus, collected my pack, and we went off to our hostel so we could go get some food. We stayed at Nery Lodging, which was not the best hostel if you are looking for comfort, but it definitely is a great place to stay with the hospitality and economic price! We spent less than 40 bucks for the whole week there! That is cheaper than my rent per month if we add up the cost.
We got some food, settled in, and planned out the next day for aguided tour at Laguna Llaganuco and Yungay!
Day 2 – Guided tour to Yungay and Llaganuco
We woke up and got a ride to the bus terminal set up by our hosts. We waited until they started telling us to board a bus for our guided tour. When we boarded, it was a small collectivo/bus that was packed tight with a tour guide hovering over us. He told us about some of the history of the district of Ancash which means group of blue eagles, and Huaraz had something to do with the bare minimum amount of clothing people wore (this is what I got from my Spanish skills).
We stopped at a small plaza for ice cream after about an hour and half driving, as we were heading to Yungay, which was our first stop.
When we arrived at Old Yungay, we learned how it was previously destroyed from an earthquake that shook the mountain range so hard it caused an avalanche. So our tour guide showed us around where the buildings had been destroyed, a bus that was crumpled up like a cardboard box, the remains of a cathedral, and he also pointed out the four palm trees that survived the natural disaster – the story itself was incredibly sad but interested me a great deal!
After spending an hour or two here, we got back into the bus for what I have been looking forward to the whole day, Laguna Llaganuco! The temperature dropped hard when we finally arrived to the laguna. I instantly had to put my sweatshirt and jacket on because the winds were biting at my skin. We climbed a few stairs, crossed a bridge with the sound of rushing water quickly zipping by, and the smells that hit me were incredibly fresh!
There it was! Laguna Llaganuco! The color was so surreal! It really looked fake while we were there, be surrounded by the mountains, Huascaran National Park’s beauty is like nothing I have ever seen and it was only the first full day. Isaac and I hiked a small trail that went around the lake, getting pictures before everyone else flocked in and swarmed, and thankfully we did, because we had brief moments of pure tranquility as we rounded corners away from everyone. After an hour we returned to the bus to go get some dinner, which really was not that spectacular. All in all – it was a great first day, but do not think people need a guide for the future – future post on this coming soon.
Day 3 – Made our own trail
We decided to go to Laguna Churup later in the week as we knew it was something we could do, so we decided to put it off for later as we created more plans during our week. Something that seems interesting was to pick a random mountain surrounding Huaraz and just hike it. That is exactly what we did!
We got up at 8 am, and we picked one direction from our hostel and we walked straight towards it without stopping. We switch backed up some roads and into some neighborhoods, came across some pretty aggressive and territorial dogs, and survived that part (scariest thing I have ever experienced lol). We kept going up and up and up.
Eventually, we found and opening in the mountain and we just climbed directly up bumping into a man with a backpack taking a nap (scared the devil out of us), we hoped he was okay, but we saw him up and walking around like 20 minutes later.
We finally made it up to the top of the mountain with a beautiful view of the city. See below!
We ran into a few cows while we were up there, hiked around the mountain to try to find a lookout place called El Pinar. We literally hiked around the mountain instead of up and over it, almost got trapped between a cliff/drop off, experienced a little bit of rain, and finally stopped to have some snacks and water before descending into the valley to climb up our next mountain.
By the time we started climbing up the next mountain, we finally located El Pinar and
explored, but did not really find much but a small patch of pines. So, we were getting pretty hungry at this point as we have only been snacking. So we ended up walking down the mountain, but this time following a road to lead us to a new path. That is when it started to rain. We hurriedly pulled out or rain jackets and ponchos to stay dry on our return. We ended up using a bathroom at a small restaurant that we did not eat at, but just to rest and stay dry.
We continued walking back to our hostel, and had some lunch down where it was dryer, and that pretty much wrapped up that adventure for that day.
Day 4 – Preparation day
Okay! Okay! Preparation day was all about making our plans for the next day which was backpacking and camping in the Huascaran National Park, specifically at Laguna 69! We rented some backpacking equipment for a night, bought some food, and then we packed it all together. This is what we ended up getting.
Yes, it may be true we bought just a tad bit too much food, but this is basically what we had:
Snacks: beef jerky, peanuts, trail mix, cookies, and I believe that was it. The fruit was not brought along.
Lunch/Dinner: pasta, spaghetti, tuna, ramen noodles, rice
Breakfast/drinks: chocolate oatmeal, powdered milk, granola, hot chocolate, coffee
We ended up eating everything except for 1 package of oatmeal and the rice. When it comes to the gear we rented, we had the following:
- Two sleeping bags
- Two sleeping pads
- A small kitchen stove
- Pot and cups
We were ready to go!
Day 5 – Laguna 69 and camping day
This morning started at 4 am! We had to get up to take a bus from Huaraz to Yungay, and then a collectivo (bus) from Yungay to the National Park trail head. I will write a guide on how to do this hike without a guide, and where to take the bus as well in the future.
When we were dropped off at the trail head, we joined a tour group that had the day to hike up and back, but we were fortunate to have the park to ourselves when we knew they would leave!
The hike took us around 2 and half hours if I remember right. We started our hike around 9 am, and we got there a little after noon. The hike was constant switch backs, level hikes, back to switch backs, and finally we arrived to the top!
Laguna 69 was impressive. We were surrounded by mountains, glaciers, and the bluest water I have ever seen in my life. Once we arrived, we set up our stove and boiled fresh lagoon water and had two cups of hot chocolate!
It was unreal. The feeling of being surrounded by this, knowing that we were going to sleep here and camp here while everyone else left was SO unreal. Having hot chocolate from fresh lagoon water was pretty cool too!
It even snowed while we were there too! That was Isaac’s first time seeing snow fall from the sky, so that was a really cool experience!
Once everyone left, we decided it was time to set up camp – the only issue was, a tour guide and a sign, told us we were not aloud to camp up there and we needed to camp in the designated camping sites (which we had no idea where they were located), so we decided to hike down an hour after everyone left so we could have our personal time alone with the amazing place.
Check out another post/blog about the full issues/problems we had with this trip as we had a mini heart attack fighting snow/rain/cows/cattle and trying to beat the sunset for camp. Here is the first time we set up camp followed by the real place we ended up setting up camp.
It is actually a funny story, but I will explain in much more depth in a future post.
Day 6 – Return from Laguna 69 with a beautiful journey home
I woke up to the sound of the the blissful sound of the river running by, and as I opened up the tent the chilly winds nipped at my fingers. I got out the mini kitchen stove to make some “fresh” coffee right away to stay warm as I took in the most beautiful views I have ever seen waking up.
After some time of reflection and sipping some coffee, Isaac woke up and we both made some chocolate oatmeal before packing up and returning back to our hostel. We took one long last look at our views for the morning, and we packed up and began our new journey for the day.
We started walking the way we came from the other day, and we decided instead of waiting for a bus to pick us up, we hiked back to Llaganuco!
These are only a FEW of the pictures that we took on our half a day trek home. Let me tell you this hike down was SO worth it instead of taking the bus, as the bus would have been so fast, and we would have missed so much by taking a bus.
When we first arrived at Llaganuco, I asked a park ranger when a bus would be able to pick us up, and he just told us anyone would be more than willing to take us down. Like before, we decided it would be a better idea to get going and walk down the mountain. After about 40 mins or so, the same park ranger drove by us, stopped, and gave us a ride all the way down! I will feature some video content in a the post in regards to Laguna 69! I want to give a huge shout out to the Park Rangers for doing this because you saved us like 5 or 6 hours of walking, and about 60 soles! Thank you thank you!
All in all, these two days were probably by far my favorite part of this trip, and would recommend anyone to do the same!!!
Day 7 – Laguna Churup
The last day I was pretty tired and to be honest I did not want to hike. But, of course we had to go because we were in Huaraz, and I did not want to regret anything!
This was a pretty difficult hike. It was about 3 or 4 hours to hike it on average, but it took Isaac and I roughly 2 and a half again. We spent a couple hours up there after we finally made it. We ate some snacks, I washed my face and hair in the water because I was sweaty and hot! We took in the views, talked, and just relaxed as the hike was much harder than Laguna 69 in my opinion as it was incredibly steep! This trail also was with less people as well in comparison to Laguna 69 as well, and would recommend this laguna as well as 69. As stated before, there will be another individual post with this one as well, on how to get there, more pictures, tips, and so on!
Day 8 – The return home
After a full week of events, we packed up our bags, bought some snacks for the trip home, said our goodbyes to the hostel and the hosts, and we played a few card games on the roof of our hostel before realizing we had 30 mins to board our bus with Oltursa, and we hadn’t left for our bus! We were going to miss our bus! So we basically ran out, got there and saw a parade while we were going celebrating some type of school anniversary, which was iconic, because the first day we came in, we saw a parade that night of arrival, boarded our bus, and arrived in Lima 9 hours later!
I am so grateful for this trip. I am so lucky and fortunate to be able to experience things like this. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, please let me know via email or drop a comment.
Thanks for tuning in!
- Guide on Llaganuco
- Laguna 69 hike without a guide and our story about what happened to us
- Laguna Churup – Tips, how to get there, and more pictures
- NERY Lodging review of our hostel
- Cruz del Sur vs Oltursa Bus Review