When folks think of visiting Peru, the first thing everyone typically gravitates towards is planning a trip to Macchu Picchu. Now, don’t get me wrong. Macchu Picchu was magnificent, rather hard to get to, but totally worth a visit. I mean a town was built on the top of a mountain peak!!! Plus, if you are lucky enough to have great weather, then the view is amazing and iconic!
With all that being said, my trip to Huaraz, Peru last weekend was hands-down the best hiking/outdoor experience of this last year. The views were magnificent and I will let the pictures speak for themselves. This was the most strenuous day hike I have ever done (11.1 miles roundtrip and ascending to 15.1K feet) with the high altitude being the hardest hurdle. Even with the hardships, it is a HUGE sense of accomplishment to finish a hike like that and knowing that this is not something most travelers will ever get to do or see.
I wanted to highlight some of the trip below and the process it took to get there. As with most locations in South America, the trip to Huaraz required an 8.5 hour overnight bus that we took with a company called Cruz del Sur. They offer a VIP section in the first level of the bus that provides beverages, snacks, 160 degree full recliner leather seats, entertainment system (in Spanish) and mood lighting. Our whole group will attest that paying the extra $10 for VIP was worth it, even if some of us didn’t sleep well (I never do!).
My year-long hiking buddy (& BFF for life) Kelli set up most of the weekend’s itinerary and we worked with Inkaland Treks to get us around the whole weekend. Our guide, Edita, was absolutely amazing and I cannot recommend her enough. She was knowledgable, provided homemade lunches & snacks, and answered every one of our random questions in perfect English!
The hike to Laguna 69 (see header image) was planned for our 3rd day in Huaraz. We had to spend the first 2 days getting acclimated to the altitude. And let me just say altitude sickness is no joke. We all felt the effects of the altitude almost immediately (fatigue, tiredness, shortness of breathe, headaches). The locals swear by coca tea (tea made from the same leaves cocaine is derived from….YUM!) to offset the symptoms of altitude sickness so naturally we chugged that every morning.
Day 1: We spent the day traveling and hiking around Lake Paron.
Day 3: The infamous trek to Laguna 69 (located at 15.1k feet). We woke up at 5:00 am to have breakfast and to get prepared for the 2.5hr journey to the base of the hike. The views on the drive in were spectacular (including a gorgeous blue glacier lake) and I will let the pictures tell the story. All in all the hike was 11.1 miles round trip with an elevation gain of just over 2000 feet. The trek was one of the hardest YET absolutely amazing hikes of my life. We saw maybe 30 folks the whole day which was super nice because this definitely was a hike that many people do not get to experience, nor can even accomplish, due to the physical requirements, so definitely makes you feel extra special at the end.
All in all this was one of my favorite weekends of the past year and I dare say I would recommend Laguna 69 (over Macchu Picchu…GASP) to any of my adventurous friends.