We spent a week in the Huaraz area, Peru’s hub for trekking the Cordillera Blanca. It’s part of the Andes Mountains and one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the world. The town of Huaraz sits at just over 10,000 feet elevation, with the surrounding hikes at much higher elevations (we reached upwards of 15,000 feet).
May through September is the peak hiking season. We took a risk coming here at the end of December, during the rainy season. Overall, we got lucky with the weather; it was sunny and dry for 3 out of the 5 treks we completed. The two treks where we did encounter bad weather made for some memorable moments. Being here during the off-season, we were rewarded with having the trails almost entirely to ourselves (the exception being Laguna 69).
We split our time between staying in the town of Huaraz and staying at the edge of the Huascaran National Park. In town, we stayed at La Casa de Zarela (https://www.lacasadezarelahuaraz.com/en-us). The place has a great Thai restaurant and Zarela was helpful in arranging private transportation for us to area hikes. One day, we did the Laguna Churup hike. We paid 120 soles (~$36) for the driver to take us there, wait while we hiked for almost 6 hours, and then drive us back. It would have been 80 soles (~$24) for one-way transportation. It seemed a little crazy that is wasn’t much more to have someone wait hours for us to hike and then drive us back. Zarela explained to us that in the U.S./Europe, time is money. Here, people count the gas vs. the time. Gas is over $4 a gallon here, which is quite expensive relative to wages.
Roundtrip up to Laguna Churupita: 7 miles, ~6 hours
While staying in town, we also did the Laguna 69 hike, which is one of the most popular hikes in Peru and by far the most popular hike in this region. Interestingly, when the Huascaran National Park was created in 1975, this lake did not have a name. When the park was formed, all unnamed lakes were assigned a number, with this one given the number 69.
The Laguna 69 trailhead is a 3 hour drive each way from Huaraz. We paid 250 soles (~$75) for a private taxi to take us there, wait while we hiked for almost 6 hours, and then drive us back to Huaraz. It was worth every penny; we arrived before the crowds and saw only a handful of people as we hiked up.
Roundtrip: 9 miles, ~6 hours
For the other part of our time in Huaraz, we stayed at a mountain eco lodge, The Lazy Dog Inn, which is located at the edge of the Huascaran National Park (https://thelazydoginn.com).
We absolutely loved our time here. Upon arrival, we received a warm welcome from the hosts, Diana and Wayne, and their two Labrador Retrievers. We immediately felt at home. They provided detailed information on hikes starting directly from the property, we did the following three…
Roundtrip: 15 miles, ~8 hours
This day was quite the adventure as we ended up in two hail storms, the second of which was severe enough that we decided to turnaround just before reaching the lake.
Roundtrip: 13 miles, ~7 hours
This was our favorite hike from the Lazy Dog Inn. It was a gradual ascent up the beautiful Llaca Valley, with shifting views of the Oshcapalca and Ranrapalca glaciers as the weather turned from sunny to stormy.
Roundtrip: 26 miles, ~9 hours
This was a long, scenic hike up the Cojup Valley to the high glacier lake Palcacocha. Research stations have been set up at the lake to monitor climate change. So many cows and donkeys on this trail!
In total, we hiked 70 miles during our treks in this stunning area of the Andes Mountains. So many beautiful miles, so many beautiful memories.