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Published: November 6th 2012
Leaving the coast behind we travelled from sea level to 3600 meters up in a matter of hours. Another drive on windy roads high into the mountains, after being back at 0 meters for a few days altitude kicked in again quickly.
After the beauty and warm weather of the beachside it was a slight shock to arrive into Huaraz, it’s a loud, dirty looking town - seems like every other road has been dug up, including the one with our accommodation – it’s cold, rainy and dark mid-afternoon. But my reason for visiting wasn’t so much the town but the surrounding national parks.
High up in the Andes Huaraz is dominated by the highest tropical mountain range in the world, The Cordillera Blanca, and Peru’s highest peak, Huascaran. After a night in the hotel it was an early breakfast and a 3 hour drive to the Cordillera Blanca to hike to Laguna 69 – not easy to write without sniggering but apparently it was more of a ‘we named the last one 68’ than for any other reason… - the 3 hour bus journey treated us to some spectacular views of glacial carved valleys and beautiful
turquoise lakes all whilst being jolted around along the bumpy tracks.
The starting point of the hike was at around 3600m above sea level, considering we were at sea level less than 24hours previous there had not been much time to acclimatise, and it was felt! Lots of light heads, bit of dizziness and plenty of shortness of breath - You instantly feel totally unfit, like you’ve been a couch potato for years and are now trying to run a marathon. Luckily the recovery period is quick - Stopping for a few months lets your heart return to normal and the lungs stop burning. Its slow process but eventually after 3 hours of climbing, the summit at 4700m was reached, rewarded by a picnic on the shores of Laguna 69.
Picnicking at the edge of the lake the sun was shining and the snow-capped peaks were fully in view, every now and then we’d hear a thunder like crash and look up to see snow cascading in an avalanche down some far off peak. Just after the final picture was snapped and lunch was finished the clouds rolled in and the rain started, it
Stunning scenery on route to the walk
was time to start the trek back down to the bus, taking just under 2 hours to cover the same ground, it felt like we trekked through all seasons, sunshine one moment, hail stones the next. With aching legs and soaked through we boarded the bus for the journey back to the Huaraz.
The next day was spent a little (ok a lot) more chilled, mooching round Huaraz’s shops, visiting the market to buy food for breakfast tomorrow, finding a chilled coffee shop for a late lazy brunch, writing blogs and drinking beers in the afternoon. Driving to Lima tomorrow for more shopping (time to replace the broken camera) and preparation for the Inca Trail later in the month.
Thanks for all the lovely comments guys, its nice to hear things from home.
Peace and love
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