High in Huaraz

When Emily is ill with a cold/flu, she wants to be at home in bed, warm, with cups of tea, and to switch off the world until she feels fit to face it again. Her level of happiness over time is inversely proportional to the number of tissues required (30 little packets and counting), and she loses the desire to be interested in anything or to write anything. She would prefer to have someone to look after her if possible, but otherwise she’d rather just rest and hide away. A week and a half of stubborn annoying symptoms later, she’s a bit fed up!

She’d rather not have a deadline to be somewhere miles away and have to drag herself onto night bus after cold night bus, lurching from side to side round the mountain roads, which also upsets her stomach, but on this occasion she has no choice. She’s about to do the 4-day Inca Trail trek so she needs to man up and ideally do some acclimatisation hikes! At least she manages to see some more impressive sights on the way.

So, from Chachapoyas a night bus at the front on the top, via Chiclayo again, to Trujillo. Not a lot good to say about Trujillo to be honest (would’ve gone to see the Chan Chan ruins but germs stopped me) and I just tried to sleep, day, night, day, in the cold deserted hostel, after buying my next bus ticket out of there. The Plaza de Armas is quite impressive:

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Huaraz
Arriving at Huaraz early the next morning I knew I’d made the right decision to get myself there, as the massive snow-capped mountains really lift my spirits. The hostel was quite busy and sociable and I had a bed tucked away in the corner where I could sleep again for another whole day. These are views from the terrace:

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A couple more days later I felt up to doing a fairly lazy trip, mostly on the bus all day, past views of the Cordillera Blanca. I think this is Alpamayo, made famous by Paramount Pictures

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This water bubbles up from under the surface and interacts with the stone; the pond smells of rust.

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These are Puya Raimondii plants and the high Andes is the only place in the world they’re found. They have thousands of flowers when in bloom like this, and can grow up to 10m tall.

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Here you can see an example of why it takes so long to get anywhere around here!

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From here I made the 40-minute fairly gentle hike up to the glacier at Pastoruri, at almost 5,000m up in the sky in Parque Nacional Huascarán. So glad I did!

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Anyone who saw my Tibet pictures will recognise the little cairns.

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Followed by a quick walk back down: it was really cold!

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Laguna 69
After taking yet another day to rest, spending time in the lovely little California Cafe in Huaraz, I then did a more challenging hike to Laguna 69. I paid for the trip the night before, having started to feel a bit better, but then had a sleepless night thanks to the person in the bunk above me constantly moving around. Grr. So I set off in the morning convinced that I was going to quit halfway through the walk…

First you drive past a town called Yungay which has rebuilt itself in a different location following a devastating earthquake-induced avalanche in 1970. 10 million cubic metres of ice, rock and snow from the Huascarán glacier broke away and 3 minutes later, Yungay and its 25,000 inhabitants were buried. This is the top of the old cathedral tower.

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Laguna Llanganuco is the place you reach next, in a valley between Huascarán, which is Peru’s highest peak, and Huandoy. And yep, the water really is that colour!

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Then on to the trek challenge! The mountain you can see at the end of the valley I was about to hike is Chacraraju I think.

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And looking back along the valley, I think this is Huascarán:

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The 6km trail to the lake starts fairly flat, followed by a section of switchbacks to climb up, followed by another flat section followed by another climb. In total you end up at 4600m above sea level: 700m higher than where you started.

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This is not laguna 69!

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This is the middle flat section, with pretty valleys all around and plenty of cattle. In the middle of this picture is the path to climb to reach the laguna:

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When you reach the destination, this is why it’s worth it!

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A bit silly but: Fabien, not a copy but un hommage!

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To the far right here there are two tiny figures; guys from our group who went to break off one of the huge icicles!

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After more than an hour soaking in the scenery, as the weather dulled off we headed back down the valley retracing our steps to the start. It’s reassuring to know your way back is all downhill, and I enjoyed that walk back so much, striding back down the valley lost in my own world listening to my music with a big smile on my face!

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Back to the start I did my stretches here looking back up at the mountain. Lovely.

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Posted in Huaraz, Laguna 69, Pastoruri, Peru, Trujillo
3 comments on “High in Huaraz
  1. Fabien says:

    Catching up with your posts dearest (I am a bit late I must confess) ! Thanks for the hommage at Laguna 69 (assuming I am the Fabien you were talking about of course 😉

  2. Heading to Pastoruri tomorrow morning thanks to your blog… Love reading about your travels. It is easy to relate how sometimes traveling is not always as amazing as some people think, but then sometimes you end up in these incredible places! Hope to catch up to your latest blog.

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