Huaraz is like a good martini …
… shaken, not stirred.
This is the feeling when you go off the main roads onto gravel roads towards the mountains. Because here is the Mecca for all climbers. Huaraz is located at 3,050 meters and is surrounded by the backdrop of the snow-capped Cordillera Blanca. This constitutes a work of art of sharp peaks, turquoise lagoons, lush green valleys and majestic glaciers.
„Great things never came from comfort zones!“
Having arrived in Huaraz it’s good to know where to go because everyone at the bus station is a taxi driver, tour guide, hostel or restaurant owner. But after several friendly „no gracias“ you can pass and go away. So we shouldered our backpacks and walked towards the hostel. After the first few meters, we realized quickly that the air up here is pretty thin and we snorted a race. The hostel „Churup“ we had booked for us from Lima should be our home for the next few days now. Here you can feel very comfortable! After a hearty breakfast and our first cup of coca tea we went to plan the next days. We wanted to get used to the altitude slowly before we went on a multi-day tour with „Monttrack“. We didn’t know which tour we should go when Isabell and Lorry joined us and the fate decided for us, so we stayed longer than planned in Huaraz. :)
In the afternoon a taxi brought us to Santa Cruz, a small Quechua village in the Cordillera Negra, for 30 PEN. This is located about 10 kilometers north of Huaraz. From there we went an hour to the „Laguna Wilcacocha“. The lake is at 3,700 meters and offers a wonderful panoramic view over the snow-capped mountains of the Cordillera Blanca. Because of the dark clouds and the powerful grumbling we started quickly on the way back. Unfortunately we were not spared and were caught in a heavy hailstorm. Indeed you should not underestimate the mountains. For starters this tour is a good start to acclimate.
The next day we booked like a touri a tour to the „Pastoruri glacier“ and we went by bus infinitely. Stop peeing, stop shopping, stop construction, stop photos … Somewhere in between we got to know the Austrian girls Jessica and Anja. Yes, a bus ride can be funny. :)
After we had arrived at the car park we went up to 4,950 meters towards the glacier. In less than 20 years this has shrunk by the half and extends only over an area of just 900 square meters now. Anyone who has ever seen a glacier in his life before will be a little disappointed. On the way back we warmed up with a „Lavanta Muerto“ soup and felt tired in our seats.
To be able to spend one more day with Isabell we shifted our multi-days tour and decided to go to the „Laguna 69“ the next day. When the alarm clock rang at 4:30 we regretted our decision immediately. Nevertheless we tormented ourselves out of bed and packed our things together to be picked up at 05:30. After a two-hour bus ride through the small villages we turned again onto a gravel road. After several back and forth swings we came to the „Laguna Llanganuco“. We were overwhelmed! We would not need more. :). But we did not want to miss the ascent to Laguna 69 anyway. At 3,900 meters we started. Our way was still cozy on a stream, past countless cattle grazing and by some swampy area, always facing a daunting steep flank. Then the actual rise began. After a good hour we reached the first plateau. Here the wind blew in our faces strongly. The last 45 minutes we were snuffling and wheezing until we finally saw the turquoise of the lagoon between the cliffs. Having arrived at 4,600 meters we had a decent lunch break and countless photos were also shot. After an hour our guide called for departure. On the way back we walked on the same path back to the bus. There was a big „Phhhuuu done“ written on our faces.
In the evening we said goodbye to Anja, Jessica and Isabell and went to a typical Peruvian restaurant to prepare our strength for the coming days.
Now it was for us „into the wild“. The next three days we didn’t see much of civilization and we were looking forward to the peace and seclusion. On our trek through the „Choco Pass“ we should crack our personal altitude record of 5,100 meters finally.
More on this tour can be found here:
Back from our successful pass crossing we enjoyed a decent beer in the evening. We were pretty proud of ourselves and glad having arrived alive and well. The next day we took the bus back to Lima to start towards Paracas from there.
Salutes from far away,
Tina and Andi from Itchy Feet