Huaraz is a true getaway to some of the fascinating places in Peru, such as Laguna 69 and Laguna Paron, and without any doubts, we included them in the most beautiful places in South America.
After coming down from lovely Mancora and mysterious Chan Chan, we couldn’t wait to see Laguna 69, which belongs to some of the most spectacular hikes in Peru.
Similar to our hike to Laguna Paron, we were expecting turquoise waters, stunning nature, and seeing some cute llamas on the way.
Most of the travelers are opting for the more commercial trek to Laguna 69 when they are visiting the Andes in Peru.
However, we were super lucky to take an alternative trek which has spectacular views and very little tourists.
In this post, we will let you know how you can hike to Laguna 69 from Huaraz, avoiding the crowded tourist trail and what to expect from the alternative route.
ABOUT LAGUNA 69 IN PERU
Laguna 69 lies in Huascaran National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Huascarán), and belongs to the Cordillera Blanca Mountain range (White Mountains) in Peru. You will see several lagoons along the way such as Laguna Llanganuco. And if you are a passionate mountaineer, then you can climb to Huascaran, which lies at 6,768 m.
Before our trip to Peru, we already knew that PERU equals HIKING, and if you would like to visit some of the magnificent places, then you need to work for it.
And that is true for Laguna 69 as well. You need to know that this is a full day hike. And all together you will be hiking around 14 km. We were out there for about 7 hours.
The hike to Laguna 69 is 7 kilometers, which can be a lot for many people. The alternative hike will take you around 3.5 hours.
We were super happy that we did the alternative hike and saw both sides of the Huarascan mountain.
THE ENTRANCE TO LAGUNA 69
The entrance fee to Huascaran National Park for one full day cost 30 Pesos and it is also called boleto touristico. We definitely recommend coming here for the entire day.
SEE MORE: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN PERU
PREPARE FOR THE ALTITUDE
If you are traveling to Peru, you must now that most of the towns and places are located at higher altitudes most people are used to. You will be hiking in Huascaran National Park, and the alternative hike starts at 4.600 meters above sea level.
Once you arrive in Huaraz, make sure to acclimatize your body to the altitude. We made a huge mistake with our hike to Laguna Paron as we just arrived in Huaraz, and the next day we went on a hike. I completed the hike, but I got a massive headache, and I felt like vomiting.
Make sure to spend at least two days in Huaraz if it’s your first day in Peru. If you are traveling from Mancora beach town, make sure to acclimatize your body and chill for at least 2-3 days in Huaraz before your trek to Laguna 69. If you are coming from Cusco, you should be fine, and you can do the trek the next day.
HOW TO BEAT THE ALTITUDE SICKNESS
You need to drink a lot of water, and if you can get some coca leaves or make some coca tea, make sure to drink it. Every hotel in Huaraz has access to coca tea, and you can get coca leaves on every market in Huaraz.
Guides are very patient during your hike, and they will always wait for you, so there is no need to feel stressed. If you start to feel unwell, the best thing is to stop and catch your breath. Drink some water, get some coca leaves behind your teeth or under your tongue, and start chewing. Only continue when you feel better. This is not a race who gets there; first, every person reacts to altitude sickness differently. It is not a matter of fitness neither. However, if you never excise you might have a slight problem here and the probability that you might have great muscle pain the next day.
SEE MORE: Find out which are THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN SOUTH AMERICA
ALTERNATIVE TREK TO LAGUNA 69 NEAR HUARAZ
The most significant difference between the original hike and the alternative hike to Laguna 69 is that you will avoid crowds. Most of the tours will start at the starting point known as Cebolla Pampa. However, with this alternative tour, you will get there at the end.
PROS OF THE TOUR
If you would like to avoid the crowds this is the most significant advantage of this alternative trek to Laguna 69 from Huaraz. You will be starting from a different side of the Huarascan mountains. We loved this hike as it will lead you through the paths travelers usually do not take. Like this, you can enjoy the tranquility and peace.
Another reason why to join the alternative hike is that you won’t be doing the same hike twice. On the way back, we took the original track. Why take the same path twice?
CONS OF THE TOUR
The only disadvantage of this alternative hike is that you need to wake up early, around 3.30 AM as the tour will start at 4.00. And if you are rolling your eyes now, hear us out.
Most of the tours are starting at 5.00 AM and this alternative tour start at 4.00 AM, to make sure to be at 6 AM at the sunrise spot. So one hour difference is not that much. And you will gain much more.
Can you imagine witnessing a sunrise and overlooking the highest mountain in Peru? Yes, we also struggled waking up that early, but we also witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises in our life. We are not exaggerating.
After sunrise, you will have a local breakfast and then you will start your hike. Breakfast will include hot coca tea or coffee (we had both) quinoa pancakes and some eggs.
Make sure to inform your guide if you are vegetarian, vegan or have any specific diet inquiries.
Because it is still quite early in the morning, and if you are traveling in the dry season, you might see snow. The first views and impressions were amazing. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking. When we started the hike, the sunrise colors were still overlooking snowy mountain peaks.
I mean, just look at it…
After 30 minutes, we reached the spot where you can see Huarascan from a great angle. Absolutely a perfect spot for taking photos with Huarascan.
The hike is not even hard as you will be mostly walking straight and without much accending. The only difficulty is the altitude as the air is thinner it is harder to breathe.
After some time, we were descending through the grassy hills and we passed by a lovely waterfall and got to a small lagoon. Here we had a short 15 minutes break and ate some snacks.
After 30 minutes of hiking, we ended at the commercial hike with other travelers.
The last 2 kilometers of the hike to Laguna 69 is the hardest. There is one incline path before the small lagoon, and after that, you will pass a meadow field and get to the hardest part. Take your time and try not to push it. The best thing is to just listen to your body.
We got to the lagoon and the whole effort was absolutely worth it. We stayed for about 1 hour and we got back via the original trek.
It is definitely easier to go down and it took us around 2 hours. We won’t lie, we were completely done after. We came back to our hotel at 7 PM and we only managed to go for dinner and falling asleep while eating.
DOWNSIDE OF THE TOUR
We really liked our tour guide and the alternative hike to Laguna 69, and Peru didn’t disappoint, again. We definitely wouldn’t change it for anything. However, you also need to know that you will be in the tour group of around 10 people.
And not all people are on the same page in terms of fitness and pace. I wouldn’t consider myself a fast walker in high altitude neither. But when we got back to our tour van, we were the first ones and we had to wait around 1.5 hours for everyone else to come back. And if you are unlucky you might even wait a bit longer. We didn’t really mind as we took a nap and our bus driver turned on the heating for some time so we don’t have to wait in the cold bus, which was very nice.
WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR HIKE TO LAGUNA 69
WATER: One of the most important things is to drink enough water. This is to prevent altitude sickness and also dehydration (duh).
COCOA LEAVES: If you do get altitude sickness we highly recommend you to chew some coca leaves. Before you hike to Laguna 69, you can easily get them on the market in Huaraz. If you really cannot make it and you are feeling unwell, there is also altitude sickness medication available in the pharmacies.
SNACKS: It is a full day hike, so sugary snacks with lots of carbs are the best. We love to bring protein bars and some fruit with us.
HIKING POLES: If you joining the tour, your guide will give you some hiking poles for sure. We are neither experienced nor passionate hikers, and they definitely helped. If you are going on your own, then it would be helpful to have some.
WHAT TO WEAR?
STURDY HIKING SHOES: Having good shoes that are waterproof is a must and definitly make a big difference, especially when you are on your feet for more than 8 hours. So bring proper hiking shoes and your feet will thank you for sure.
WARM CLOTHES: It can get really cold so a good warm jacket is a must. Don’t forget that you are hiking at altitudes (that are higher than most mountains in Europe) and in winter times you will see snow, so it would be helpful to have some thermo clothes. Layering is the best option for hiking in general. When it gets warmer during the day, you can easily take off either a jumper or a long sleeve shirt, so you don’t have to sweat.
SUN LOTION: Moutain sun is dangerous and you can get easily burnt. You will be hiking in 4.600 meters above sea level so make sure to apply sun lotion before your hike. We love to use Raw Elements suncream as they are chemical-free (if you like, you can use our promo code Gigi10 for 10% off on your entire order).
Also, very importantly, never travel without a travel insurance. You never know what can happen, and it’s smart to be covered on the road. You can get a quote with word nomads insurance here.
WHEN TO VISIT LAGUNA 69
We visited Laguna 69 at the end of May, and at that time in Peru you will likely have chilly nights, but sunny skies during the day, which is spectacular for taking photos. That is why, if you are visiting Peru, we recommend you to come during the dry season, which are the months from June to September. The shoulder season isn’t bad neither, and months like May or October I wouldn’t discount either.
OTHER WAYS HOW TO HIKE LAGUNA 69
If you do not like to take this alternative tour, and do not want to join a tour, in general, there are other ways how can you get to Laguna 69 on your own. We wouldn’t recommend this way so much, but you have your free will and can decide for yourself, of course.
Taking a taxi is definitely very comfortable, but also quite expensive for poor travelers. You can also join other travelers and share a taxi to the entrance of Laguna 69. You can ask your driver to wait for you once you get back from your hike to Laguna 69, so you know that you have a transfer back to Huaraz. In South America, sometimes these things don’t work that well and it can happen that your taxi driver won’t come to pick you up.
The price for a taxi should be around 150 – 200 Soles.
TAXI COLLECTIVO & BUS
Definitely the cheapest option is to take the bus, but this can be a bit unreliable. Especially on the way back to Huaraz. If you would like to get there by bus, it might be a bit complicated.
The first taxi collectivo leaves around 5.30 or 6 AM from Huaraz, and they only go to Yungay. Here, you will be dropped at the parking lot. From there you can take another taxi collectivo, which often sucks as you need to wait until the van is full. There are taxis standing too, and taxi drivers will ask you to drive you to the entrance which will be very likely overpriced.
RETURN BACK TO HUARAZ
The biggest problem is that the last taxi collectivo might leave around 3 PM or 4 PM to Yungay. We can’t really say what time exactly, as in that time no one really knew.
So when you miss the last taxi collectivo to get to Yungay, you can ask around the tour buses if they can take you to Huaraz. They will very likely charge you the same cost as the bus. But again, as you can see, it is a very stressful process and we honestly think, that it is not worth the trouble. You need to put a lot of strength in getting up early, hiking above 4.000 meters for 7 hours, and then, in the end, fight for your return journey. Definitely not worthwhile.
We also think that the price of tours are totally affordable, and saving free pesos doesn’t really pay off that much. And regarding the time, if you arrive at the entrance to Laguna 69 at 9 AM, and get up to Laguna 69 in 3 hours (if you are really fit), then you need another 2.5 hours to get back. That means you won’t even have much time to enjoy Laguna 69 anyways. Considering that you need to pay 30 soles for a day pass is just a waste of money.
WHERE TO STAY IN HUARAZ
We spent 4 days in Huaraz and stayed in a lovely Akilpo hostel. It is nothing luxurious, but they have comfortable rooms and hot showers. The best thing is that they offer unique tours to nearby Laguna 69 and Laguna Paron. We did tours only with them to both lagoons and we can 100% recommend it.
CHECK FOR ALL HOTELS IN HUARAZ
We are wishing you a great time in Huaraz and in general in Peru, enjoy your hike to beautiful Laguna 69. We really loved this tour and totally recommend it to anyone who is looking for some cool hikes in Peru. Just don’t forget to acclimatize before.
Also, if you wonder how do we plan our trips, have a look at our 20 tips on how to plan a great itinerary.
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