Ever since I saw a photograph of the brilliant waters of Laguna 69, it has been on my bucket list. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have the opportunity to visit it so soon.
When a friend and I found ourselves in Lima, we realised we were only but an overnight bus ride away from Huaraz, the base town of Laguna 69 and many other treks. So, we spontaneously jumped onto an overnight bus, arranged to stay with a friend of a friend working in Huaraz, and chased that icey blue water.
Arriving early in the morning, we spent a day exploring the town of Huaraz and acclimatizing to the altitude once again. Huaraz reminded us a lot of Cusco, its surrounded by mountains and like all peruvian cities has a little plaza de armas. The town is full of hiking shops to stock up on supplies and cafes that resemble a skii resort to refuel after a days trekking. We opted for California Cafe, the perfect place to enjoy a hot chocolate and read a book from their massive book swap, all whilst cuddled up on a sofa that makes you feel like you are at home.
The next morning, the alarm went off at 4:30am ready to jump onto the mini bus that we hoped through our broken spanish would take us to the national park in which laguna 69 lies. After two and a half hours of bumpy mountain roads, we arrived into the national park where you must pay S/. 30 to enter. We fuelled up on breakfast at a little coffee shop that I’m sure gets extensive business from hikers, and set off on our trek.
The trek takes approximately 6 hours in total, and is no easy hike, but it is more than worth it. The first hour of hiking is relatively flat, but the altitude of 14,700 ft makes it feel otherwise. Many people turned back after around an hour with altitude sickness, including the friend I was travelling with. So I hiked on alone, winding up into the mountains. For three hours we clambered up rocks, the altitude getting higher with every step, and our breaths getting shorter as the oxygen decreased.
However, after the final push, you are rewarded with the most incredible of views. The lake is just as I had imagined it, with little purple flowers dotted around the edges. The backdrop of mountains were laden in snow, with waterfalls cascading down them. It was, without a doubt, the most beautiful scene I have ever seen. I’d reccommend anyone doing the hike to stock up on something like dried apricots as it is a strenuous hike, to wear hiking boots not trainers, and to acclimatise for at least a day and a night in Huaraz if travelling from the coast.