After hearing about a Lagoon with snow capped peaks and the bluest of blue waters, I quickly began preparing for my next trip to Peru!
Our adventure began in Lima where we hired a car and set off for the 7hour drive that took us through the city and along the coastline crossing into desert and forestation along the way.
For anyone who is yet to travel to Lima – the roads are not the most coordinated and it was a challenge in itself just getting out of the city in one piece.
The laguna 69 trail is situated within the Huscaran National park. While the closest town to the park entry is Yungay, most people (like me) stay in the larger town of Huaraz as there are more accommodation options and restaurants.
The towns and villages in regional Peru are less developed than the major cities so dont have five star expectations when it comes to your hostel.
We hit the road early with hopes that we would find a lovely little Peruvian lady selling fruit on the roadside along the way. How wrong we were.
We didn’t have any luck at finding breakfast or lunch items along the way until it was too late and we had arrived at the entry point for the hike. So thanks to our lack of organisation in the snacks department – the three of us were left to share a 200g bag of peanuts for the whole day.
We left the car in the parking lot with the tour bus drivers who were all playing a game of soccer. We were about 100m down the road when one of the drivers yelled something out to us.
“Hey Dan, did you catch that?” I asked my friend.
Laguna 69 is literally hugged by snowy mountain peaks, jagged rocks and trickling waterfalls some 4,600 meters above sea level. It is both a steep and demanding ascent beginning at 3,800 meters, but the overriding challenge is being able to cope with the high altitude.
This is what we all had in our minds after our research and the discussion we had had the night before:
“The beginning of the hike is easy, first we’ll walk along the main wide open dirt road for about 2km and then we’ll find a river and follow that. The altitude is pretty high so we’ll chew cocoa leaves if we feel sick.
Earlier we had seen donkeys and porters heading down towards the river bed and flat field below us.
“Do you think just maybe we’re supposed to be heading down that way…?” We ambiguously questioned, as we stared at each other, then looked back up at the huge mountain we were about to embark on.
We did this hike without a guide so we didn’t see the red gate that you were supposed to turn up, or know to even look for it. Maybe the tour driver front the car-park was yelling out to turn at the red gate……..
We soon realized that the wide open road we had been trekking on was leading us in the opposite direction.
We had read other blogs and information about doing the hike without a guide and they all said that the path is easy to follow and find. Maybe it was the Adrenalin, excitement, altitude or all three that got the better of us… we ended up lost.
After walking up the mountainside road for a solid hour, with no signs of footsteps or fellow hikers in sight; finally a small bus was approaching to pass us. I flagged them down and helplessly asked whether they knew of the laguna69 trail and if we were heading in the right direction.
The guide laughed and then instructed us to hop into the bus and he would drop us off to the starting point of L69 which we had walked straight passed. By this time it was midday and we had already lost hiking time from the unexpected 2hr drive up from Huaraz.
We were finally on the right trail!.. and it was BEAUTIFUL!!
The altitude got the better of one of my friends and we had to keep stopping for breaks every 10 minutes. We were running out of walking time to reach the peak and our progress up the mountain was very slow. We were scraping the peanut crumbs by this stage.
Determination pushed through and we eventually made it arriving with just enough time to take some pictures and head back down to the car in daylight.
So there she stood, high and mighty on the mountain tops. The most crystal clear blue glacier water I had ever seen. Majestic, peaceful and such calmness I had never witnessed before.
I’ve been to and seen some spectacular things along my travels, Lagoona 69 is certainly one of the most spectacular destination points with a beautiful landscape hike to get there.
One for the bucket-list, and definitely worth the adventurous journey up from Lima.
How to find Laguna 69
There is an airport at Huaraz with 3 flights per week leaving from Lima on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Link here >> LCPeru Airlines
Buses from Lima run everyday and a roundtrip ticket will cost between $8 – $25 USD. Check the timetables here >> Bus to Huaraz
Treks and guides to L69 can be arranged from Huaraz, Lima or any larger city/town in Peru. Tour agencies an local guides run hikes daily and often include transport, emergency oxygen, food, entrance fee and directions!