When in Huaraz, aka Peru’s hiking mecca, a visit to Laguna 69 is pretty much compulsory.
It’s the perfect day trip and, with a 700m elevation gain and starting at 3,900m, it makes for a great warm up or tester if you’ve got the Santa Cruz trek in your sights.
This trip is able to be done without a tour company, but from all reports the transport is a bit of a nightmare so to save the headache it’s easiest to book with one of the many agencies in town or through a hostel.
All day trips follow the same format: collected from your accommodation between 4-4.30am, three hour slow bumpy bus ride on a gravel road (so it might be worth paying a bit more for more comfortable transport), a breakfast stop en route, a brief photo stop at another lake and then you’re dropped at the start point around 9am.
If you’re a novice hiker or you haven’t hiked at altitude before, don’t underestimate this one! Those hills really took me by surprise.
For the first hour or so you’ll be hiking on the flat enjoying the very crisp Andean air and looking at lots of waterfalls trickling down the mountains and then up and up and up for two hours until you get to the stunningly beautiful Laguna 69, named so for practicality’s sake - there are more than 400 lakes in the Huascarán National Park.
Here, amongst snowy mountains and brilliant blue waters and at a whopping 4,604m, you’ll be given an hour to enjoy your packed lunch then it’s back down the way you came for a 3-3.30pm departure.
This hike is great because it allows you to see the beautiful park scenery in only a day and is great training for those multi day hikes at altitude.