Welcome back to this week’s post on our crazy trip to Laguna 69! Isaac and I waited a few days to do this trip as the hike is at roughly 15,000 feet! Many people in Colorado worship the 14,000 feet climbs, but 15,000 feet is nothing when it comes to the Andes in Peru. We took a few days to acclimate to the best of our ability before doing this hike, which seemed to work well as we did not experience any issues with the altitude other than heavy breathing.
So today, I will tell you how to get there, how much it cost, some of our problems that we ran into, a checklist of what we bought to backpack through the mountains for a night in Peru!
So on Monday, we planned our trip to Laguna 69. We went to a local rental gear shop and picked up a small stove, a tent, two sleeping bags, two sleeping pads, and a pot and cups.
The total for the rental gear for two full days (one night) = roughly $35 per person! This is a steal for being able to camp over night in the Andes!
We packed our backpacks the best we could (we were not prepared), and we made the most of our gear.
As you can see, the tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat is physically attached to the outside of the bag. Hey, we made it work!
Food Cost ~ $25
So after we got our equipment, we got out food. Here is a picture of our food that we got for our two day trip.
Chocolate oatmeal PACKED with protein – 15 grams per serving.
Powdered Milk and granola – that was such a carb loaded and sweet treat!
Hot Chocolate and Coffee
Ramen noodles with Tuna
Pasta and tomato sauce
So the last part of the cost is the amount for transportation to the national park. The bus only costs S./ 5 ($1.50) to Yungay, and then roughly S/. 30 ($10) from Yungay to the National Park. This cost depends on the type of transportation you take. If you take a cab, it is quicker but it is more expensive. The shared bus combi takes about 1.5 hours.
There is also a S/. 60 soles entry fee for a three day pass, or I believe it is a S/. 30 soles pass for the day. We got the three day pass which we used sporadically through the week.
The hike itself can be long and brutal. It took us roughly two hours to complete it, which apparently is pretty quick. Most people take three to four hours to complete it.
The trail itself starts to decline at its beginning from the road, which then flattens out. You are surrounded by cattle, brush, and being surrounded by mountains as you are hiking through the valley. Then you start to ascend into the mountains and zigzag. This process then repeats itself to flat to zigzag bringing the steep mountains that take your breath away – Literally.
There is a “false” summit where there is a small lagoon about halfway up. I remember seeing it, and being like…. “I read about this “fake” summit, and I want to die.”
You continue the last half which is a small flat section again, which leads to the final stretch of steep inclines to the lake. This is the point where the temperature drops significantly and you can feel the wind bite your skin.
WE DID IT. What an exceptional hike! The lagoon is so blue! So so so unreal looking.
We spent two hours at the lagoon, and people from the day trip started to leave and we were left alone in complete silence. The only sound to be heard was the slow and steady movement of the glaciers from the mountain tops. It was the most peaceful experience I have ever had in my life.
Add this experience with a hot chocolate with the snow that was gently falling as well – Mannnn it was the perfect experience, until we had to set up camp.
On our journey to find a place to set up camp, we realized our idea place to camp at the lagoon was not available. There is a no camping sign, and as much as I wanted to, I respect the rules of the National Park, and decided to find another spot.
The sun was going down, hunger was setting in, it was getting chillier, and we could not find a “camp site”. So we set up camp near the false summit in the snow as we were frantically getting our camp together.
We tossed our gear inside the tent, and I started making dinner – Ramen and Tuna.
So the problem was that not one cow, but eight cows, EIGHT cows, started to encroach in our space. We scared a few away, but they were getting really close to our tent, and this was all happening while making our dinner. Well, the eight cows kept getting closer and closer, and we did not know if they were aggressive, or if they would leave us alone or what, so we decided to HURRILY pack up camp with a half eaten dinner (headache starting to affect me), and hike down quickly before the sun set to find a new place to camp.
We met up with a New Zealand couple at the bottom of the mountain, who advised us where we could camp, and laughed at our cattle experience, which was not so funny at the time. However, now its hilarious.
We set up camp next to the river and in front of the highest mountain in Peru, Huascaran. We made some dinner, hot chocolate, and stayed up talking very late.
The next morning
We woke up pretty chilly. The temperature dropped down to 35 degrees, and the sleeping bags definitely were not warm enough for that quality, but we survived. Thankfully we did not end up sleeping at the top of the lagoon where it would have been below freezing temperatures.
Isaac slept in a little bit while I made some coffee and took in the views. It was magical.
When we finished our breakfast and packing up, we began our long walk down to Llanganuco for our second time to visit, and also to find a place to wait for a bus. The walk to Llanganuco was incredible. We enjoyed a day at Llanganuco another time, as it was clearer and we had a better view of the mountains around the area and the lake itself.
Pictures from our camp to Lake Llanganuco
I asked a ranger when and where the buses came, and he told me that they came off and on all day. So Isaac and I decided to take a nice long walk down to the park rangers office or until a bus picked us up.
We walked for 30 minutes when the same park ranger gave us a lift back down to Yungay – Shout out to them! Woohoo! Thanks for the lift guys! They also saved us 60 soles a piece, more or less.
We took a bus back to Huaraz and we returned our gear to the shop by 2pm. Wooh, what a trip. This trip made an impact on me and realized how beautiful Peru is. I only have seen this small section, without even highlighting other cities and regions of Peru. I would recommend this trip to everyone and anyone, but only if you are ready to be roughin’ it a little bit.
Cheers, and see ya next time! By the time you read this, I will be in Chile or Argentina by now!