Hiking to the Lagunas of Huaraz

Following on from our exploration of the ruins of Kuelap we carried on our journey down Peru. We had already fallen in love with the country after just 2 stops, so who knows what the rest of the country will have in store.

Trujillo

Our first stop after Chachapoyas was a small coastal city called Trujillo, we stopped here more to break up the long journey down to Huaraz than to see anything in particular. However, there is a really interesting set of ruins just outside of the city called Chan Chan. The coastal town of Huanchaco is also famed for its alternative fishing boats.

Chan Chan ruins, Trujillo, Peru

Corridor in Chan Chan ruins, Trujillo, Peru

Chan Chan itself was really impressive, being the budget backpackers we are we opted against taking a guide so our information on the site itself was rather sparse. Putting that aside the site itself was cool to walk around, who needs a guide when Google will save us! After leaving the ruins we headed out to the coast to visit the famed fishing boats. The coastal town itself wasn’t anything spectacular and boats themselves, whilst interesting, are just boats as far as I’m concerned. Possibly my favourite moment was ice cream by the sea, I’m so easily pleased!

Fishing boats in Huanchaco
The ‘alternative’ fishing boats in Huanchaco

Huaraz

We now had an overnight bus down to Huaraz, where we planned on getting our hike on! As per in South America, the overnight bus was basically an airplane and one of the comfiest buses I have ever been on. It even includes an ‘in-drive’ meal. Arriving in Huaraz we first decided to take a couple of days of acclimatization and just exploring the city! Vic had come down with a bit of a cold so overly strenuous activity was out of the question for at least the first couple of days. Especially at 2000m+ above sea level.

Probably the most famous things to do in Huaraz and also one of the best day hikes in South America is Laguna 69. This hike starts at around 3900m above sea level, before killing ourselves we knew we wanted to do something a little easier. Another of the many hikes around Huaraz is to a Laguna called Chirup, this was our initial plan but our hostel persuaded us to pay for the tour at to Laguna Paron! A Laguna made famous as it is overlooked by the mountain used by Paramount pictures (you know the one I mean)

The following day we started bright and early to head out to Paron. The drive was supposed to take us around 3 hours, 3 hours exploring the Laguna and surrounding area then 3 hours back. Handily, our driver decided to take a wrong turn giving us an awesome 5 hour drive cramped in the back of a mini-van. This obviously left us with only 1 hour at the Laguna before heading back. Even with this annoyance, it was worth every single second spent sat in the van. The Laguna and mountain are the most impressive sight I have ever seen on all my travels! I could wax lyrical about it all day long, but I feel photos will do it a lot more justice than my primary school level descriptive language can!

Laguna Paron, Huaraz, Peru
The Laguna in all it’s glory
Mountain overlooking Laguna Paron
The ‘Paramount Pictures’ mountain
Lake level view of Laguna Paron
A lake level view of Laguna Paron

If you are in Huaraz, DO NOT miss Laguna Paron! Whilst it’s a long day getting there and back it is absolutely worth it. Track the weather and try to get a clear day though.

A truly incredible view, and one that filled me with confidence for Laguna 69 the following day. Before that, however, we had the small matter of the Peruvian international football team playing in a vital world cup qualifier against Columbia. We found a small craft ale (+1 for the Peruvian craft ale scene by the way) absolutely packed with over-excited Peruvians. At first, we got a table with no view of a TV, but after some horribly bad Spanish chat with a waiter, he found us a small table tucked in a corner. The game was brilliant, Peru were 1-0 down until they scored a freekick to draw level! Needing only a draw to qualify for the playoffs the place went mental! The last 10 minutes of the game were drab, as a draw was a good result for both teams. Peru made it to the qualifiers, and the chance to play in their first world cup in 40 years! Fantastic experience!

The main square of Huaraz filled with people watching the football
The main square of Huaraz filled with people watching the football

The next day we had another early start to head on up to Laguna 69, as I mentioned earlier it is really well known and any travelers passing through Huaraz will almost certainly complete it. After a breakfast stop on the route we arrived at the starting point of the hike. Some of the things we had read online had us fearing the absolutely horrendous 3 hours of constant uphill hiking ahead of us, made all the more difficult by the altitude. Cautiously starting the walk we soon realized it actually wasn’t quite as bad as people had made out. I don’t know if it was because we were lucky with the altitude sickness, or we are just superhuman hiking machines. Yes, it was a difficult hike and steep in parts! But there were a few hundred meters of flat ground between the 2 uphill sections which really helped with the recovery!

Laguna 69, Huaraz, Peru
Our first view of Laguna 69 after the lung busting final section

Climbing up to the highest point we caught our first glimpse of the bright blue water and surrounding mountains! Whilst still an amazing view, my personal opinion was Paron was better! I don’t know if it was the small amount of cloud cover around 69 compared to the blue skies we had at Paron, but something just made me feel it was better! After a quick tuna sandwich, lots of photos and helping out a Brazilian girl who had dropped her phone in the lake we headed back down. People might think I’m crazy, but I actually preferred the uphill to the downhill. God damn broken knees!

A view of Laguna 69
Laguna 69, slightly cloudy but still amazing!

If you’re into hiking, Huaraz is an absolutely fantastic destination. Even if you’re not the town itself is really cool, surrounded by mountain peaks! Plus some of the day trips, like Paron, you could go and do and not hike at all. A well-known stop on the Gringo trail through South America and probably my favorite place so far! Next stop, Lima!

Looking out over Laguna 69
Looking out over the Laguna

 

Tags

another on the list, backpacking, hiking, huaraz, ing

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