The Trek to Laguna 69, Peru: One of the Best Day Walks in South America
Have you ever been to a place that looks amazing in photos but turns out to be a bit disappointing? Laguna 69 isn’t one of those places; it’s impossible to capture the full scale of its beauty. Despite sounding like it was named by a porn star, Laguna 69 is somewhere you should go out of your way to see. Here’s everything you need to know about the Laguna 69 trek, surely one of the best day walks in South America.
After a 3 hour bus ride from Huaraz, we arrived at the start of the trail to Laguna 69. It was a cold, cloudy morning but thankfully the walk started off easy. We walked up a valley surrounded by rocky hills; the clouds concealing the snowy peaks above. The track eventually got steeper and for most of the final 2 hours it was relentless uphill walking. The scenery was great though and with plenty of stops the walk wasn’t too difficult. People do run into trouble here as the altitude is over 4000 metres above sea level, so make sure you acclimatise, drink lots of water and stock up on coca. The track got steeper until we arrived at a small lake surrounded by icy mountains. It isn’t quite as amazing as Laguna 69 but its close. (Some of these photos were taken on the way back as the light was better)
From the lake we continued on through a golden valley surrounded by jagged cliffs and, in the background, we caught a glimpse of Huascaran, the tallest mountain in Peru. I saw some tents set up in this valley and it must be a great place to camp – definitely consider staying here for the night. The final ascent to Laguna 69 was a lung-busting 40 minute walk full of switchbacks; luckily there were plenty of big rocks to take rests on. The track finally flattened out and I caught my first glimpse of that electric blue water.
It’s hard to imagine a more dramatic setting for a lake. A waterfall pours over the cliffs that rise from the fluorescent water of the lake. Snow and ice over the mountains above – the white, grey and blue contrast with each other to create what is (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful natural scenes in the world. We spent around an hour at the lake, took about a hundred photos and ate our lunch of tuna and bread. Laguna 69 is a popular tourist site but it definitely wasn’t overrun, there was plenty of space to relax and take it all in.
Further reading: Looking for another great day trip in the Huaraz area? Check out the amazing Pastoruri Glacier – I wrote a post about it recently.
The Laguna 69 tour from Huaraz
You have a couple of options if you’re planning to trek to Laguna 69. I read recently that the cheapest way is to take public transport – a combination of buses and collectivos (small vans). The article said it costs around 40 soles and that tours cost between 60 and 70 soles. We paid 30 soles each for the tour (plus 10 soles for the park entrance), so it’s actually cheaper (and a lot easier) to take a tour. We were picked up at 6am, stopped off for some coca tea and breakfast and started the trek at 9:45am. We also stopped off at another blue lake just before starting the walk. We were in a tour group of about 10 plus 2 guides, but everyone walked at their own pace. You don’t need a guide for the Laguna 69 trek but you might as well book the tour anyway. We finished the walk at 4:45pm, so we walked for around 6 hours with an hour spent at the lake. It was an amazing day but the 3 hour bus ride back to Huaraz was a bit of a comedown – the buzz of seeing such a beautiful place was replaced with the desire to lie down and relax, not sit on a bus for 3 hours.
Further reading: Do you love snow-capped mountain scenery? Check out the post I wrote about Yubeng, a tiny village in China surrounded by some of the best scenery I’ve ever seen.
Laguna 69 is one of most scenic places I’ve been to, and at a total cost of 40 soles for the tour/park entrance, it’s also a cheap day out. Just remember to bring your own lunch and acclimatise for a day or 2 in Huaraz; you won’t regret doing the Laguna 69 trek.
Have you trekked to any scenic alpine lakes? Tell me about it!