Just outside of Huaraz is the world’s highest tropical mountain range, encompassed by Huascaran National Park. The Cordillera Blanca range includes many peaks over 19,000+ ft – including the highest mountain in the country – Huascaran at 22,205 ft. There are over 700 glaciers and the area boasts the biggest tropical ice-covered mountain range in the world. The land is home to spectacled bears, Andean condors, giant coots and hummingbirds, vicunas, and the largest species of bromeliad – the Puya raimondii. It is safe to say that this is a very special place worth experiencing, if you have one hike to choose Laguna 69 is an amazing day trip to capture the beauty of the area.
Which tour company
I researched the company Tours Huaraz by Qorianka Travel before traveling. They were very responsive with emails and had good reviews. Online we discussed how I wanted to hike Laguna Churup and Laguna 69, they assured me we could do Churup by ourselves which I thought was really cool – they weren’t trying to squeeze money out of us. The representative said he would be waiting at the bus stop (at 6AM nonetheless!) to talk about the tour. Weeks later on the very day he was there. He actually got us a cab and came to our hotel where we hashed out the details. The company was very official and the guide seemed to truly care about the environment, something I didn’t feel so strongly on the other tours. The day trip is 60-65 soles depending on season.
Be prepared for all different seasons, weather is unpredictable. Dress in warm layers including hat, gloves, and raingear. Wear sunscreen at this high elevation (15,000+ ft), even if it is cloudy. Bring snacks or buy the boxed lunch at breakfast to bring with you because it is a long day. Our guide did bring up a hot cauldron of mate de coca, which was a bonus.
Length: 8 miles
Starting Elevation: 12,911 feet
Ascent: 2,104 feet
Pickup by tour bus beings from 5-5:30AM, the ride is three hours. I was able to sleep on the but bus in the dark until we reached breakfast. The meal is outside (and its cold – wear your sweater!!) and you have a menu to choose from, you pay for this meal out of pocket. You can also buy a boxed lunch here for the hike. Afterwards you enter the national park and you ticket price includes the entrance fee. Soon inside you will make a stop at two lakes, Chinancocha and Orconcocha which even on a grey day are a dazzling shade of turquoise.
The stop is predominately to take pictures and you are quickly back on the road to get to the trailhead where the real hiking beings. The trek starts out pretty flat and is well marked in a scenic valley.
You are allowed to go completely at your own pace. There are a few stream crossings and in the rainy season they can be a bit swollen. Elevation slowly comes on, but the landscape distracts. You will be walking a plethora of birds all different colors,
and plenty of cow to observe.
There are multiple waterfalls that change as you turn corners and gain elevation.
The wildflowers are impeccable.
As you reach a small black lake you are getting close to the destination.
Tall glaciers started appearing in and out of the cloud cover, the laguna is located under Mount Chacraraju, over 20,000 feet.
The final push at the end is dizzying at this elevation and when you get to the top it is almost unbelievable. An oasis in the snowy mountains.
These pictures have no alterations made to them, the lake is this deep blue on even the most overcast of days. It was FREEZING once we stopped moving, remember layers! We stayed as long as we could, picnicked, and hoped for the clouds to reveal more glacial views.
Eventually we were just too cold and had to start our hike back down, trying to take our time, because almost no one else was up at the summit. We had to wait for hours for the rest of the crew to complete the hike, but made friends with the only other girl that hiked as fast as we did, Deanna from Arequipa. We took selfies and learned about pachamama, the driver gave us more mate de coca. Plus we had this view.
It was an incredible hike, day, and experience with a wonderful tour company. I would highly recommend take the hike to witness this sensational mountain lake.