To prep for our upcoming Santa Cruz backpacking trek we decided to take a day hike out to Laguna 69 to acclimate. Laguna 69 is one of the most popular day hikes out of Huaraz, and it’s no surprise – the hike to the laguna is as incredibly beautiful as the laguna itself. We opted for a guided trek with First Class Huaraz so we wouldn’t have to worry about the details.
The first ~2 miles are flat and wind through open fields with views of the mountains in front of you and behind you. This provides a nice warm up before the switchbacks.
The next mile includes gradual switchbacks offering closer views of waterfalls and the mountains. Once you make it through the first mountain pass area you are treated to a beautiful mountain lake. It is the perfect place to take a quick break and snap some photos.
After this lake is another ~.5 miles of walking through a huge flat pasture. Then there are the most grueling switchbacks for the last ~.5 miles.
You’ll be short of breath once you arrive to the laguna, which will take your away your breath all over again. The laguna is a bright teal color due to the minerals. You have an opportunity to sit and relax by the lake, watch little avalanches fall off the mountains into the water, take photos and have lunch.
The hike back down is easy and peaceful with incredible views all around.
The hike stats:
- Distance: 4.3 miles/6.9km each way, 8.6mi/13.8km roundtrip.
- Elevation gain: 2,316 ft/ 705 meters.
- Final elevation: 15,105 ft/ 4,604 masl.
- Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes up, and a relaxing 1.5 hours down.
- Garmin GPS track
The tour details:
First Class Huaraz picked us up at our hostel at 5:35 am and we arrived at our breakfast location at 7:30am.
Here we had an opportunity to grab some breakfast and any treats or snacks for the hike. There are no other places along the way to purchase food or drinks so if you don’t pack something you should grab something here. We packed food but the mate de coca con miel de abeja (coca tea with honey) was definitely worth it – we needed both the pick-me-up and something warm to sip. After this quick break we entered into the national park (s/30 per person for foreigners) and we were on our way. We made a quick picture stop at Chinan Cocha and then we were off to the trailhead.
We arrived at the Laguna 69 trailhead at 9:05 am. We were instructed that we would have 3 hours to hike up, 1 hour to relax at the Laguna and 2 hours to hike back down to the bus. The hike itself is unguided which allows you to hike solo and at your own pace. Our guide, Carlos, walked at the back of the pack to make sure everyone arrived safely and without injury. Although there were 20 of us on the bus, and there were other chartered buses, we were never hiking with anyone else. It was incredibly peaceful and we felt like we had the landscape all to ourselves. Our bus left the trailhead around 3:30 pm and we arrived back into downtown Huaraz at 6:30 pm.
We felt it was an exceptional value at S/ 36 per person; you will pay nearly as much if you opt for a colectivo. Take the tour so you have a comfortable bus, friends to hike with (if you want), a guide to take care of you in the event of injuries or altitude sickness, and an easy pick up and drop off.
Disclaimer: we were provided a 50% discount on the tour in exchange for this blog post, however even without the discount we would strongly recommend this tour.