An incredible day of hiking to Lake 69 up to 4,815 m height in Parque Nacional Huascarán was not only challenging but also heaps of fun with people I just met. The absolute highlight was arriving on the top. Here I tell about the hotspots, and relate my crazy story at the lake and the costs involved…
The Journey to Lake 69
Luckily, I had already Another day in Huaraz in Peru and I am very excited to be transferred to the starting point to hike to Lake 69. Pick-up was at 6:30am and so we made the journey From Huaraz – Yungay (50km). We had to pay 10 soles (ca. 3 USD) to enter the Parque Nacional Huascarán. One last stop over at a small village to have breakfast, where I shared a table with a Peruvian couple and, of course, we had a coca leaf tea. On the way to the starting point, we stopped at some other lakes called Llanganuco lakes, which were also pretty nice.
The Hiking Experience
We arrived at the starting point at an altitude of about 3,900m around 10:00am and walked in small groups. I met several people on the way, but I wasn’t up for talking much because I made that mistake the day before and was out of breath very quickly on a very exhausting hike to Lake Churup. Then this French guy started addressing me, just small talk, and you can probably guess what kind of “basic” questions he asked but I was just not up for it. I told him that I couldn’t talk and hike at the same time and not to take it personally. You may understand that it was just the beginning of an apparently exhausting hike and I needed to save my energy, especially because I was still a little exhausted from the previous hike and wasn’t honestly feeling up to this one either. Apart from that, I usually love to connect with people anywhere, anytime !
After hiking a little bit, it was time to put on my poncho because it started raining and everywhere got muddy. We lost the trail and that way made it really hard, but fun, because I didn’t mind being lost and, well, I didn’t even realise it at first. I still had this Italian girl following me, but I told her not because I didn’t know where I was going. Haha.
Anyways, while crossing parts of the waterfall, we saw some other people on the hill and so had to climb up a very slippery area, where you had to pull yourself up by some tree drenches. I helped the two girls. Some guys held my legs because I was leaning down – good teamwork.
Slowly Reaching the Top of Lake 69
The final part was up a fairly steep mountain for about an hour, which was really steep, and I had to do it slowly steady like when hiking up Gokyo Ri mountain at a height of 5,360m in Nepal. Then came the reward at 4,815m after 2 hours 20 minutes.
There were not many people when I arrived and so I had the momentum to let a guy take some photos of me, which unfortunately didn’t come out well. Oh well, I then sat down and had some food – very much enjoying the moment. It was still cloudy and the mountains were kind of covered by them, not allowing for a clear view of the lake with the mountain range around it, but it was still very beautiful to relax in a quiet place.
Connecting with the Locals
After resting for some time, I connected with some locals (a Peruvian couple, Alfredo and Diana) and while we were hanging out, the weather slowly cleared up and the sunshine warmed me and dried my wet clothes. The views then turned awesome and so did the photos. We met a Colombian who had come all the wway with his backpack and full equipment because he planned to camp for the night. I imagined that could be awesome but also pretty cold.
Jumping into the ice cold Lake 69
There were just a few clouds left and I thought if I don’t do it now, I’ll probably never jump into the lake; so I just stripped down to my underwear and did it. Oooofffff, it was freezing cold but refreshing haha. After dipping in the lake, I came up and for one second and wasn’t able to scream because it was just so cold. Check out the following video ! Right after, I put on my clothes again and we had to hike back.
Leaving Lake 69 / Getting lost
There were two French women with a guide and to avoid getting lost, I hurried to catch up, started a conversation with one of them while slowing down my pace, so my other friends could catch up haha. However, we were 20 minutes late and only arrived at 4:20pm. People from another bus were waiting for others. I got in touch and they were really nice, giving me a hot cup of tea – definitely something I needed.
Distance / Where to book ? / Costs
The distance of the return of this tough hike was about 16km, and at the end I was very exhausted; but at least one thing was important – I felt much better at this high altitude. I booked the minivan transfer to Lake 69 with “Mony Tours” for 40 Soles ($5,70 USD) instead of 50 Soles. On the way back, everybody seemed tired and slept, but I was sitting behind the driver, concentrating on his driving because it was a really dangerous, steep gravel road. The background for being a little controlling is my terrible car accident in the desert of Chile. It got worse when it started pouring and the traffic was getting crazy. Before we got to Huaraz, the driver decided to put on his seatbelt – haha — like they all do before they get to Huaraz because apparently the police charge big fines for not wearing a seatbelt.
I TRAVEL FOREVER’s VIEW & RECOMMENDATION
The hike to Lake 69 was an amazing experience and I really loved the mix of being challenged and also rewarded at the top. The connection with Peruvian locals and meeting the Colombian guy staying overnight inspired me to do whatever I desired and allowed me to learn more about the culture. The one thing I didn’t like about this trek to Lake 69 was that it was one way: we had to walk all the way back. I prefer a circle. I actually did a circle though I was getting lost haha. Big recommendation to go there when in South America!
I’m now ready next stop: Mancora to get some serious beach time and party again.