For anyone who enjoys going slightly further afield and veering of the beaten track, Huaraz is a must do. Having researched many things to do in Peru and seeing Instagrams of some the stunning sights we were in treat for, one place really stood out - Laguna 69.
Laguna 69 is a beautiful, crystal clear lagoon in the heart of the Andes. Immaturely giggling at its name, we were informed that the lake is called this solely because each lagoon in the Andes is numbered, and this one just so happens to be number 69. In order to reach it you have to drive up to the foot of Huascaran National Park and then trek 700 metres up to a high altitude of 4700 meters. This is quite a tough trek but we promise you it's totally worth it!
On arrival in Huaraz we checked in at Huascaran hostel, a beautiful, family run home on the edge of the town. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left we felt very spoilt and looked after, the huge beds and the delicious breakfast was definitely a bonus. The main reason we had come to Huaraz was to trek up to Laguna 69 and the hostel were very helpful with organising this for us. We were all booked on to the trek and prepared ourselves for the 5am early start, snacks were essential (as always) along with coca leaves which are chewed to help with altitude sickness. Intrigued as to why they helped, we did a quick google search and were surprised to find that coca leaves are actually illegal in the US because they come from the same plant as cocaine.
As the alarms went off at 5am we struggled out of bed in the freezing cold and managed to find some energy to pull on our clothes. We got all our things together and headed downstairs to jump on the bus that had been arranged to pick us up. Whilst walking to the bus, the owner of the hostel couldn't stop going on about how lucky we were with the weather, and considering our luck our previous treks we were praying he was right! The bus journey was two and a half hours long before arriving at a stop where we were made some yummy breakfast by the local Peruvians. We snoozed a bit more trying to gather energy for the trek we were about to accomplish.
After breakfast we had to hop on the bus for another 20 minutes to the foot of the national park. On this journey we were lucky to pass two lagoons which were honestly stunning - we didn't know what to expect of Laguna 69 having seen these, we were clearly in for a treat!
Once we had paid the park entry of 10 Peruvian sol (equivalent to £2.50) we were ready to start the trek. We did have a guide who told us which direction to head in, however, unlike other treks, on this one we seemed to be on our own. This made it a bit less stressful as we were always able to walk at our own pace. The weather was beautiful and the mountains looked incredible as we set off on the trek. We were told the trek usually took around 2-3 hours to the top and that it was to be difficult due to being at such a high altitude. Coca leaves at the ready, we headed in the right direction. The first hour of the trek was a steady incline and pretty relaxed, Christie (being a Scot) was surprised of how much it reminded her of the Scottish highlands... they even had cows which looked like Highland cattle apparently. As the trek went on we started to wind our way up the side of the mountains and we felt the paths getting steeper. Every twenty minutes we would have a two minute rest and chew on some coca leaves to prevent altitude sickness - bizarrely this really did help and we would highly recommend. The trek up was amazing; the view of the waterfalls against a backdrop of snowy mountains and cliff faces was unbeatable and like nothing we'd ever seen before. As we got closer to the top we reached the last 45 minutes of steep incline and managed to gather the energy to reach the top. On arrival we were speechless. As you reach the peak you can see a
large circular drop in the mountains with the crystal clear blue water at the bottom. Standing looking up at the mountains we felt so insignificant due to the sheer scale of the hills towering above. The water sparkled in the sunshine and was the most beautiful colour of blue. Some people were even mad enough to jump in for a swim, however putting our fingers in was quite enough for us... it was bloody freezing! We sat on a rock and ate our packed lunch gazing in amazement at the landscape surrounding us, attempting to photograph the magic of it all. We managed to get some amazing snaps, however it is impossible to show how truly incredible it was.
After an hour or so taking in the magic, we began the descent to the bottom. We took it slow as you can get altitude sickness from going downwards apparently... and were relieved when we reached the bottom. We were greeted by some coca leaf tea before hopping back on the bus to Huaraz, feeling extremely content with the day we had just experienced.