Category: Peru

Two awesome hikes in Huascaran, an area of breathtaking beauty

Two awesome hikes in Huascaran, an area of breathtaking beauty

Huascaran National Park is a place of stunning beauty in the Central Cierra, the mountainous region in the centre of Peru. The most popular hikes are the day hike to the Lake 69 (Laguna 69) and the multi-day Santa Cruz trek. I only went on two day hikes.

Hike #1: Pitek (3.820 m) – Mirador Churup (4.535 m) – Laguna Churup (4.450 m) – Laguna Churupita (4.580 m)

After spending 36 hours acclimatizing in Huaraz (3.100 m), which I needed having arrived from Trujillo (located at the sea level), I reckoned it was time for a first hike.

So I went to the colectivo (minibus) station and although I came at 8 we only left at 9 because the driver was waiting for more people to turn up. I started the hike at 10. The trail is not very hard but hiking at this altitude is no mean feat. I was happy I didn’t have any problems with my head, but I was gasping for breath all the way hiking up. There are some sections which are harder and require climbing but it’s all doable. In bad weather it may be dangerous tough.

Laguna Churup trail information board
The hiking trail to Laguna Churup
Signposting along the trail
Laguna CHurup is somewhere up there
Looking back at the valley

The weather was great but by the time I came to the viewpoint the weather had changed. I normally try to be patient and positive hoping the weather will change and so I wanted to wait at the viewpoint for the sun to come out. The wind, however, was so cold, that my hands were freezing and so I hiked down to the lake. I wasn’t going to go on hiking to the smaller lake but the weather improved slightly and so I changed my mind. The last 300 m were tough but I made it. There were only two other hikers there. Yay! There weren’t many hikers at the big lake either which I really liked.

Laguna Churup
Laguna Churup
Laguna Churup
Laguna Churup

Although it wasn’t sunny at the top it was sheer bliss. It’s an amazing feeling to be somewhere where so few people venture going.

Total distance hiked: 8 km

Laguna Churup round trip: 6 km

Laguna Churupita round trip: 2 km

Although I normally hike 20 to 35 km, the effect of this short hike at the high altitude was the same.

Laguna Churupita
Laguna Churupita
Laguna Churupita
Hiking down

Hike #2: Trailhead (3.900 m asl) – Laguna 69 (4.604 m asl)

Getting to the Lake 69 on your own is not the easiest thing to do considering the limited and complicated transportation. And so I decided to go on an organized hike.

I had to get up at about 3.30 am, because I was going to be picked up at 4. The bus was picking people all around the city and it took over an hour before we left the city. It took us around 4 hours to cover the distance of mere 90 kilometres to get to the trailhead. There were road works which was one of the reasons why it took so long. But more importantly the last 30 km are along an unpaved road and it takes and hour and a half to get from the main road to the lake. But we made it and the weather was going to be nice.

We started hiking at 9.30 am. Even though it was an organized hike we could hike at our own pace, we only had to stick to the schedule. 3 hours hike up, 1 hour at the lake, i.e. start hiking down at 1.30 pm, with the bus leaving at 4 pm.

Laguna de Llanganuco
Laguna 69 trail information board
Huascaran Sur and Huascaran Norte (hiding in the clouds) – the highest peaks in Peru
Hiking up to Laguna 69
Hiking up to Laguna 69
Hiking up to Laguna 69
Hiking up to Laguna 69

The hike was easier than the one to Laguna Churup, at least it felt like so. The first section was more or less on a flat terrain. The last 300 metres were the hardest, not because the trail was too hard, but because of the high altitude. It was hard to breath and so I had to take more breaks. But I made it! And just getting that first look at the lake was awesome. It took me just a little over two hours to get there so I had much more time to spend there than I had expected.

Laguna 69
Laguna 69
Laguna 69
Laguna 69
Laguna 69

I can’t have wished for better weather. It was great. Although mountain peaks were somewhere in the clouds the views were stunning. And so was the Lake 69. The sun can really change its colour and so I had a chance so see the lake at its best. So beautiful.

Total distance hiked: 13.5 km

Altitude difference: 700 m

Hiking time: 2 hr 10 min up, 1 hr 30 min down

Hiking back
Hiking back