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Hiking in Huaraz

View 8 Month Adventure on elliehirch's travel map.

Alli is here, Alli is here!! Ellie is happy. We had a wonderful reunion in the Lima airport after both flying overnight (I at least got to sleep in a bed until 2:30am!). After a taxi to the bus station to drop off our bags and a bit of a 'now what?' moment, we found a Starbucks, some coffee, and wifi to decide where to go in Lima. We ended up spending the afternoon in the Barranco district, walking around the area, down by the ocean, buying a few things and drinking a few beers. Didn't take us Canadian girls long to find the local brewery! They also served really good food.


We started our first duo travel leg off with a night bus to Huaraz. While this was quite the fun experience, it did not end up being one that involved getting much sleep ?. We very much underestimated the windy roads, slow speed, and stops and starts. Even the comfortable reclining seats, neck pillows, eye masks and sleeping pills did little to help the cause. Two very groggy ladies stepped off that bus in Huaraz! And rallied to get our bags and walk to our hostel in the early morning light. We felt like the luckiest people in the world after being treated to an early check-in, a 6-bed room to ourselves, a hot shower and a nap! Huaraz was looking up! And this hostel view!


We spent the rest of the day acclimatizing to the 3100m altitude (just a liiiitle bit higher than the 1000m in Calgary and the sea level in Rio I had come from). We had a delicious huevos rancheros breakfast with a view.


And found a rooftop lookout at our hostel.


We also drank copious amounts of water and took our altitude pills and walked as much as we felt up to. And Alli enjoyed three naps :). All in preparation for two days of hiking we planned!

Our first hike was to Laguna (Lake) Wilcacocha with a local guide, Robert. He was so wonderful for helping us navigate a collectivo (local bus which is basically a shuttle people hop on, hop off wherever). This trip was chosen as a first day hike as it's shorter (3-4hrs) and a good initial outing for trekking at altitude. Let me tell you, it felt like one hell of a trek. It starts out winding up a dirt road into the hills. By about the second turn Alli and I looked at each other and said, between heavy breaths, ohhhh that's what hiking at altitude feels like. We took lots of breaks as we continued up, through a small village, and to even steeper, stone stepped areas.

Our guide's house in the village


Those damn steps were about the point that my nausea got the best of me... (Rocheal, remember that day at Temple's new location when we put way too much weight on the prowler the first time and felt like we were gonna die, or puke, or both? This felt like that.. Only I had to keep going!). The trip up was 3km long and 600m elevation gain. Alli compared it to hiking Ha Ling in Canmore, deathly hungover, and carrying a 100lb backpack. She was not wrong! Reaching the top was a huge relief! The lake itself wasn't too much to look at...


But this view made it all worth it! And the proud feeling of having done the approximately 2 hr trip in 1hr 40 despite almost dying...

We could see almost the whole way along the 180 km that make up the Cordillera mountain range. We were on the side of Cordillera Negra (black) looking over at Cordillera Blanca (white). We could see the tallest mountain, HuascarĂ¡n, standing at 6768m (which Robert has climbed to the peak of!).
The way down was slightly easier and it didn't take us long back at the hostel before we were napping again! After a quiet afternoon walking around and having supper (and our first Pisco sours!.. Delicious), it was an early night for the 5:30am pick-up the next day.


Day 2 of hiking was the journey to Laguna 69 in Parque Nacional HuascarĂ¡n (in Cordillera Blanca). The bus ride took about 3 hrs total with a stop for breakfast. By the time we had eaten breakfast, reached the park and started the trek, Alli and I had already joined an impromptu group of other backpackers that we would spend the rest of the hike with! Kai and Samara from New York, John from Scotland, and Paulo from Brazil. We had the greatest time! (Plus, these were some pretty cool New Yorker's who recognized my hat as a Canadian Tilley Hat!).
Our first stop along the way was at Laguna 65 (all the lakes in the park are named by number). The colour of the water is absolutely breathtaking.


Then began the second day of hiking, which I was extremely nervous for given the difficulty of the day before! And I am happy to report that no such struggles were had! This trek gained an altitude of 700m (from 3800m up to 4600m!) but it was a much more gradual ascent so I thankfully did not have a second experience of feeling I was going to die! Talking with other people really helped pass the time, the scenery was absolutely phenomenal, and we also chewed coca leaves the whole way up. While being very bitter and fairly disgusting to chew on, they really do help with the altitude. I know what we are stocking up on for Machu Picchu!!

Everything that we saw along the way was colourful, unique, amazing!

We reached the lake in good time and were not disappointed by the view!!


Again, the colour of the water is like nothing I've ever seen. The rock face is topped by glacial peaks running down the waterfall into the lake. We could hear/see rock and ice tumbling into the lake. Talk about a phenomenal lunch spot with a great group!

It started snowing a little bit before this picture!

Laguna 69 was one heck of a treat! Alli and Ellie hike Peru is off to a grrrreat start!

We made the return trip early enough that we could enjoy a leisurely pace and reached the bus just as it started raining! Perfect timing to enjoy a double rainbow from the shelter of the bus!


After the return trip on the bus, we were able to shower at our hostel (where they gave us an empty room to use to shower!), get our bags, finish check out, and taxi to a pizza place to meet the group for dinner. Then back to the bus station for another night bus. And copious prayers that this bus would be a bit more successful sleep than the last!!

Posted by elliehirch 10:36 Archived in Peru

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