You need to put Laguna 69 in Huaraz on your list yes or yes! It is one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world and one of the best treks you can do in Peru. Best of all, you only need one day to do it!
The hike to Laguna 69 in Huaraz is the perfect day trip for all mountain and nature lovers. Since you do your own hike, surrounded by incredible views of mountains, waterfalls, streams and roaming animals. It takes around 3 hours to get to the lagoon and around 2 hours to return. Most people spend an hour or so in the lagoon relaxing and enjoying a wonderful picnic. If you dare go into the lagoon, be careful: it is super cold! There are crazy people who do it, but remember for your walk back – it gets colder when the sun starts to go down.
Laguna 69 in Huaraz
Yungay province, located in the department of Áncash, is the favorite destination for lovers of nature, adventure and challenges. In addition, it is home to many of the most beautiful lagoons in all of Peru. One of them is Laguna 69, a natural paradise that exhibits dreamlike landscapes characteristic of the Andes.
It is called “Laguna 69” because, when the authorities counted the small and large lakes in the region, it was given that number. It is considered as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, in addition to being a Natural Heritage of Humanity. Its waters are fed by the impressive Chacraraju snow-capped mountain, only in the thaw season.
It is located within the Huascarán National Park, home to many other lagoons and magnificent natural landscapes. Because the path to get there is not very difficult, it is one of the favorite destinations of most tourists, whether or not they are fans of hiking.
One of its most outstanding characteristics is the brilliant color of its waters, of an intense turquoise tone, and crystalline due to its purity and the absence of contamination in the area. However, the lagoon has a very cold temperature, so we do not recommend taking a long dip once you get to know it.
The snow-capped mountains and the clear blue sky will accompany you during your journey to Laguna 69 in Huaraz. As we mentioned, it feeds on the snow-capped Chacraraju, which is imposed at more than 6000 meters high. You will see it as a background that surrounds the main landscape.
Origins of Laguna 69 in Huaraz
Laguna 69 in Huaraz rests at 4,600 meters above sea level under the impressive Chacraraju mountain, part of the Cordillera Blanca in the Ancash region of Peru. This mountain range is part of the Andes Mountains, and has 200 km of extension and 722 individual glaciers. In addition, here is the highest mountain in Peru, Huascarán, with a height of 6,768 meters.
While the colors of Laguna 69 in Huaraz are astonishing due to the minerals found at its bottom, the same cannot be said for the history of its name. Laguna 69 is called that, simply because it is the sixty-ninth lagoon in a list of more than 800 high Andean bodies of water in the Cordillera Blanca. The formation of this body of water, like the hundreds of lagoons in the sector, is due to the process of deglaciation over the years.
How to get to Laguna 69 in Huaraz
Laguna 69 in Huaraz is located in the Huascarán National Park, which is northeast of Lima. Whether you are coming from the north or south of Peru, the only way to get here is by car or bus. The main access to the park is from the town of Huaraz.
The easiest way to get to Huaraz from Lima is to take a public bus. These are buses that are operated by different companies such as Cruz del Sur, Civa, Movil Tours, etc. They leave daily and it takes around 9 hours to get there. A good option is to take the bus at night so you won’t waste time traveling during the day.
Tour vs. Trek on your own
Once you are in Huaraz, the trek is only 3 hours. Whether you are taking a car, public transport or a bus to Laguna 69, you will first need to decide if you are going to take a tour or trek on your own.
When you are in the city of Huaraz, there are many travel agencies offering tours and trekking to the attractions that are around the Cordillera Blanca. They are all going to be relatively similar with the same schedules, but different guides. What you should watch out for is that they don’t scam you. These one-day treks should cost around 30-35 soles, no more! It is common for agencies to double the price if you are an unsuspecting tourist, do not be that person who falls into their trap!
Taking a tour can make things simpler for you. Why? They are your means of transportation. Essentially, they will see to it that you efficiently see Laguna 69. Tours pick you up at around 5 am and you return around 7 pm the same day.
Tours generally go like this: They pick you up from the hostel / hotel where you are staying in Huaraz. Then they ensure a good start to the day by stopping for breakfast along the way. Then they will go to the Huascarán National Park where they will pay for their entrance (10 soles). Then they will tell you how to continue the trek. People go to different steps depending on how height affects them and their level of ability. During the tour, the guides will help you if you are struggling with the walk. They will be aware of the time and to take you back to Huaraz.
With the tours there is no public transport, and you will have a comfortable bus to and from the trek. Also, since you go with other tourists, it is a great way to meet other people from all over the world doing the same as you.
Trek on your own:
The path is very well marked, so if you’ve done this type of hike before, you can easily complete this on your own. Since the route is easy to handle, it is just a matter of managing the height and completing the trek. The hardest part of not doing the tour is the transportation to and from the trek. It can cost more money and be more stressful if you decide to take public transportation instead of a tour. Your public transport consists of taking either a taxi or a bus. If you take one of these options, make sure the timing is that they have insured transportation both out and back.
Dealing with height
The walk to the lake takes around 3 hours. The hike up may feel timeless, but once Laguna 69 is in sight, it’s totally worth it! The trek is rated from medium to strong. Most people feel that the most difficult challenge is height. It is recommended that you do it at your own pace. Don’t rush, it’s not a race. You will meet new people from all over the world along the trek and who will also be struggling with altitude.
The height at which the lake is located is at an incredible 4500 meters above sea level. so get ready for this. Having altitude sickness can happen, but if you take the right precautions everything will be fine.
What is the best season?
The dry season, between May and October, also known as Andean summer, has warmer temperatures, with averages around 15ºC. The rains decrease, although in May and October they are still present. Between June and September they are practically non-existent.
The trip in private transport lasts approximately three hours from the entrance of the Huascarán National Park. You already have to take a pill against altitude sickness, even more so because the road is not paved and the vehicle will move a lot. To prevent vomiting or dizziness, remember not to eat anything heavy from the day before.
You will arrive at Cebolla Pampa, at 3900 meters above sea level, the first stop where you will start the signposted hiking route. This lasts between 2 and a half to four hours, it depends on the speed of the group. Don’t worry, the guide will be patient if you delay. Any annoyance will be forgotten thanks to the impressive landscapes along the way, among which are the snow-capped mountains of Yanapaccha, Pisco, Chopicalqui, among others.
Keep an eye out for the rocks, bushes and flowers, and take the opportunity to take pictures of some vizcachas that tend to lean out to observe the travelers. During the second half of the year you can witness the impressive Chacraraju avalanches, when the snow falls off and feeds the lagoon. The most striking thing about this natural phenomenon is the very loud sound that the snowfall emits when.
Some tips to avoid problems:
- Eat Right: Make sure you eat properly and are well fed.
- Drink water: Stay hydrated on your trek
- Drink Mate de Coca or chew Coca Leaves: It is believed to help reduce and prevent altitude sickness.
- Acclimatize: If you are coming from lower areas, take a day or two to explore Huaraz and get used to the altitude.
What should you bring to your trek?
It’s only for one day so you won’t need to carry much. It should be simple and don’t overpack. The main thing is to bring food and water.
- Food: Bring snacks to keep you energized throughout the trek. Granola bars and trail mix are good options. Also, it is a good idea to bring something for lunch so you can enjoy it while relaxing in the lagoon.
- Water: You definitely want to make sure you have enough water. This is one of the best ways to prevent altitude sickness. I recommend bringing 3 liters of water.
- Take a roll of toilet paper just in case you have to go to the bathroom after so much water!
- Money: It takes 10 soles to pay the entrance
- Sunscreen: Make sure to apply sunscreen and sunglasses / hat. During the trek, the weather is good and sunny.
- Rain protection: There is always a chance of rain so be sure to wear rain gear.
- Camera: It would really be a shame if you forget your camera for this beautiful trek and incredible views.
What should you wear for your trek?
- Layers: During the morning and evening hours you need to wear pants or long sleeves (possibly a shirt / sweater). While you are on the trek the sun is shining so a polo shirt and shorts will be fine. Just wear layers and you’ll be well prepared for changes in temperature!
- Comfortable shoes: Whether climbing shoes or sneakers will be fine, you just have to know that there is a chance that your shoes will get wet and muddy.
Other tourist attractions in Huaraz
The Sanctuary of the Lord of Solitude
You can visit this enclosure built after the 1970 earthquake. There you will appreciate the image of the patron saint of Huaraz, known as Señor de la Soledad. It is located in the Soledad neighborhood, 15 minutes from the city center. On the other hand, if you want to have a panoramic view of all of Huaraz, a 40-minute walk from the Plaza de Armas is the Mirador de Rataquenua.
The sweet town of Caraz
It is located 2,270 meters above sea level and still preserves its glorious Spanish architecture that survived the earthquake of 70. From there you can leave for the northern part of Alpamayo, considered by many tourists as one of the most beautiful mountains on the planet. It is located about 67 km from the city of Huaraz.
The snowy Pastoruri
It is also located in the Huascarán National Park and rises to about 5240 meters high. If you complete the trekking route you will be able to get there, but be careful as the temperatures on the way can drop to 2 degrees below zero. On the way, you will see various land animals such as deer, puma and spectacled bear. In addition, bird watching is also very common: you will catch a glimpse of unique species such as the partridge, the duck-frog, the American sparrow, the Andean condor, among others.
You can also visit another main lagoon in the area: Laguna Llanganuco. It is located 84 kilometers northeast of Huaraz. Actually, it is made up of two bodies of water known as Chinancocha or “female lagoon” and Orconcocha or “male lagoon”.
If you are a daring traveler and have great physical stamina, you have another option. It is the five-day circuit from Santa Cruz to Llanganuco. This passes through the Cordillera Blanca, and is surrounded by spectacular landscapes. The minimum height on the route is 2900 meters above sea level, while the maximum height is 4700 meters. You will also have the opportunity to visit other small lagoons such as Ichic Cocha and Hatun Cocha, in addition to the famous Callejón de Huaylas.