Laguna 69 is the most famous day trip hike from Huaraz, Peru (and arguably one of the most famous in all of Peru). It is a beautiful lake surrounded on all sides by snow capped mountains and makes for a perfect photo opportunity. The hike to the lake is technically not very difficult but the altitude (ranging from 3900m to 4600m) makes it alot more challenging! This Laguna 69 Travel Guide will give you all the information you need to help you plan your trip to this amazing lake.
The amazing Laguna 69
Getting to Laguna 69
Yes, you can do Laguna 69 on your own – but no we did not do this! Why? First of all its pretty hard to get transport there and back, you would have very little time to enjoy the lake and you would be rushing back to catch the colectivo back to Huaraz. Second, it cost us 30 soles (~€8) each (through our hostel Casa Blanca Backpackers) to do this – so really cheap!
Find the way to Laguna 69!
Most tour companies will charge between 35-40 soles (€9 – €10) each for this trip and it begins with a pickup at 5am. Our bus was big and modern and full to the rafters (this is the most popular trip in Huaraz) and we stopped for breakfast (not included, 10 soles (€2.60) before reaching our first stop Llanganuco lake for a photo. After about 3 hours driving you arrive at Huascaran National Park and have to pay the 10 soles (€2.60) entrance fee. Then the hiking begins!
Laguna 69 Hike
The hike begins with a gentle stroll through the valley. Honestly, for a trek that is renowned for being quite hard the start is so much different! You hike alongside the river and its relatively flat, so enjoy the scenery. It also gives you a chance to put on/take off some layers. After some gentle walking through the beautiful valley the trail finally starts going uphill.
The scenic start!
The next part of the trail is zig zags (AKA switchbacks). It is at this part that alot of people began getting tired and started taking breaks. Aoife and I were surprised how easily we were dealing with the altitude and were able to plow on. There were some nice photo opportunities (again) and a little mirador of the valley (with a bonus waterfall included). This trek is one of the most picturesque we have ever done. Once you get to the top you are about half way there (distance wise).
Check out the waterfall
After the switchbacks there is a small hill (with more zig zags) to conquer. From here you can start to get a glimpse of the glacier. After you reach the top you are greeted with a pretty lake and some cattle surrounding it. It was really beautiful and a nice started for Laguna 69 to come. ‘Gracias a Pachamama’ (Thanks to Mother Earth) as a French hippie shouted at the top of her lungs when she reached this small lake.
Conquering the zigzags for a view!
A pretty lake, but not Laguna 69!
Now the trek gets HARD! There is a small, slightly worrying, downhill and flat section before you have another hill and another set of zig zags. This part got both of us breathing heavily. Take your time, stop and enjoy the scenery! The trail itself is pretty rocky, its easy to lose your footing so be careful. Eventually, after feeling like our lungs were about to burst and collapse, we arrived at Laguna 69!
The views on the way are exceptional!
First sign of a glacier
Arriving at Laguna 69
Arriving at Laguna 69 is amazing – not just because the hard part of the hike is over but also because the lake itself is astonishing. We had read beforehand about the probability that there would be thousands of people doing the hike and that it would be beneficial to be one of the first up at the lake. Aoife and I were in the first 20 people to arrive at the top and swiftly made our way left to a big boulder that was calling out to us. We used this boulder for photographs and then had our lunch on top of it. Soon the place filled up with people but I think the area is still big enough so that you can find your own space for photographs etc. We had about an hour in total on the top before starting the descent.
We made it!
The colour of the water is amazing!
It had Aoife jumping for joy!
After Laguna 69
Going downhill is, of course, easier than going uphill but it is quite tiring after all the effort from the morning. It also didn’t help that I had the most painful blisters on my toes! After 2 hours going downhill we reached the bus and waited for the rest of our bus (for like 1 hour) before getting on the bus for a long and painful 3 hour trip back to Huaraz.
The views on the way down are easier to enjoy
Jealous of these guys having this view all the time!
Laguna 69 Top Tips
- Dont pay more than 40 soles for your trip, we bargained our hostel down to 30 soles so try this also.
- Acclimatize before you do the hike. Some people call the hike a good acclimatizer but in our opinion you need to have done some training (Laguna Wilcacocha, Churup, etc) before trying this, or you will struggle.
- Listen to the symptoms of altitude sickness – fast heartbeat, headache and short of breath are common symptoms!
- Stock up on snacks for the trip – chocolate, peanuts, energy bars, etc. The supermarket in Huaraz sells delicious quinoa cookies – get some of these!
- The supermarket in Huaraz also sells Coca sweets, these are good for providing energy and helping deal with the altitude so pack some of these too.
- Bring some walking sticks if you have bad knees – the trek is especially tough on the knees on the way down.
- Wear proper clothes! It may sound stupid but we saw so many people wearing jeans and running shoes. This is a TOUGH hike, not just a photo opportunity so dress accordingly!
- Depending on the time of year you are there you may need to bring waterproof gear. Sunscreen is recommended all year round!
Laguna 69 – Total Price
Cost of tour: 30 soles
Entrance to National Park: 10 soles
Breakfast (optional): 10 soles
Total: 50 soles ( €13 )