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Published: June 29th 2016
Have you ever been to Narnia?? We haven't either but it sure felt close enough.
Trekking in south america is a highly popular activity that travellers from all around the world come to try. Huaraz is definitely one of the most popular places in Peru to see some stunning scenery. Apparently its home to one the best mountain ranges in the world and also the mountain in the Paramount Pictures logo that you see at the beginning of films.
From Mancora we took an overnight bus to a town called Chimbote - 11 hours away. Around 8am our bus stopped in Trujillo and everyone got off. Just waking up, we were a bit confused as to what was happening. After asking the driver, we were told we needed to catch a another bus but had to go to some other terminal via taxi. We were like WHAT!!? Thankfully our tickets covered the taxi ride - then catch another bus. The tour agent in Mancora never mentioned this to us.
2 hours later we were finally in Chimbote, where we needed to purchase another bus ticket for Huaraz; 7 hours away. Suffice to say we were pretty tired by
the time we arrived in the small town of Huaraz.
Not wasting anytime on our late afternoon arrival, we booked ourselves on the early morning trip to trek to the beautiful lake in the mountains - Laguna 69. One thing we immediately noticed about Huaraz was the high altitude. Any slight incline and we were breathless. This made us slightly anxious about the following day's trek as we spoke to many around the hostel that mentioned the breathing made the whole 7 hr return trek unbearable. With high altitude you have to become acclimatized and although we have spent much of our recent travels in higher altitude's, the last place we stayed was sea level which means we have to begin to acclimatize once more. With time on our minds, we took our chances.
6:10am: Shoveling breakfast down quickly in the kitchen, we flew down the stairs and hopped into a full minibus of tired travellers.
The journey took a lot longer than we anticipated and followed the most winding, narrow and steep uphill path. Never the best combination for a good sleep. After 2 hours our minibus stopped at small restaurant not too far from the
parks entrance. Since almost everybody vacated the bus we decided to have a nosey at what they had to offer. Finding a seat in a garden filled with mosaic tables and some hungry travellers, we ordered a coffee with milk (to wake Chris up) and a coca tea that should help us with the high altitude. Coca tea is quite bitter, its taste not too dissimilar from green tea to be honest, we added sugar for taste.
After waiting in the van for around 30mins our guide had managed to purchase all the park entrance tickets and our bus was allowed entry.
As we drove through the park, everybody spotted an icy blue lake to the right. Immediately phones and cameras were pushed up against the window for a shot. Unfortunately we were at the back of the bus where the window was tinted and so we were unable to capture the beauty of the view from the back window.
The lake was a pale icy blue, with huge dark mountains running alongside it. On the same side we were driving on was a lot of bright green flora like it had been edited in Photoshop. What
made the view so impressive was the huge snow capped mountains in the distance which almost appeared as though it was at the end of the lake. The whole image didn't even look real, it looked like something made up like some CGI from Chronicles of Narnia. We could only look on as our bus bumpily drove past this beauty. Our guide promised we would stop by on the way back to take photos. We really hoped we would.
The start point of our actual trek took us down hill at first, everybody seemed to be more awake and chatty which was good. With us being at around 3800m, the chatting quickly slowed down to the most briefest of conversations. Everybody wanted to conserve energy, especially since we were set to climb about another 800m. It doesn't seem like a lot but as soon as we started walking on thee slightest inclide (it wasn't even a hill), that's when the heavy breathing started. We wanted to stay somewhere up at the front with the guide so walked a little quicker whilst on flat land.
Our guide had told us on the bus that a girl not too long
ago, tried to walk up to the lagoon. Despite feeling very dizzy, having a headache and a rapid heart rate she still continued upwards. When she got to the top she fainted. Our guide warned if we had a headache and felt dizzy, to make our way back down. Unassisted? What if we faint? We just hoped that wouldn't happen today.
The scenery started with flat land with many cows grazing on the intensely green grass. Flowing straight through the lowlands was an ice cold blue river snaking its way through. We believe it was fed by the many waterfalls; some almost free-falling from high up in the mountains.
As the trek slowly increased in ascent, we both slowed in pace but were still one of the few up front.
Gradually the scenery gave way to a huge valley, revealing the snowcapped peaks of the Peruvian andes. The land below was a beautiful mass of colours from the greens, the blues and the browns. The scenery rivalled China's Tiger Leaping Gorge trek, maybe not as dramatic but picturesque all the same.
Every now and then we'd come across a small short cut, it was a steeper incline
but it obviously wasn't as long as the regular way and allowed us to take more breaks. . Each time we made it to the top of one shortcut we stopped for a breather. Parts were steep but we didn't think it was as challenging as parts of the Quilotoa loop we did in Ecuador a few weeks before. Due to the altitude we did begin to feel a bit dizzy at points but no headaches. We did have to move our heads slowly to appreciate the views otherwise any fast movements with our eyes of head and we would overcome with dizziness. Drinking lots of water was key.
Just under 3 hours later we had finally made it to laguna 69. The air was a lot cooler as we immediately put on our jackets to shield us from the icy winds. The lake was a beautiful blue in the sunlight surrounded by the grandest snow capped peaks, that seemed so close we almost felt we could reach out and touch them. We couldn't believe how amazing the scenery was here and just how blue this lake was. We just sat there taking in the view and how amazing
it felt to be there. We took picture after picture trying to capture the right light, as the clouds opened up every now and then allowing the suns beams to light up the lake. Up in the peaks we could actually hear the glaciers cracking away in the distance.
After lunch and pictures by the lake, everyone was told (numerous times) it was time to leave. Everyone there just couldn't stop taking photos, us included. Just onee last picture. Just in case.
Even though it was the same route back, it felt like we were seeing parts of the scenery we had never seen before as the clouds unveiled surrounding peaks and the sun highlighted other parts of the land below. Smaller blueish lakes in the distance, waterfalls falling from great heights to the streams below which snaked its way through the greeny/brown/red landscape. Every turn was a jaw dropper.
Back on the bus on our way back, our guide let us off the bus to take pictures of the amazing lake we had seen on our way in. As it was now later on in the day, the clouds had moved in around the snow capped
peaks nearby, even though it was still beautiful it had lost the magic it had showcased earlier. Can't complain though, the scenery was still pretty epic.
The trek really took it out of us, Chris somehow managed to doze off briefly on the really bumpy journey back into town. P stayed awake but hopped straight into bed with a terrible headache whilst Chris went in search for some food.
Another trek that is popular here is a 4 day, 3 night trek around the peruvian andes where you get see "the most stunning mountain range in the world". This seems to be quite popular with trekking enthusiasts and travellers with a bit of time. This was on our plan but unfortunately for us time is now running out and after struggaling a little with this day trek we knew we needed more time to acclamatise. Time we didn't have. We now have a deadline plus we've got another trek to look forward to in a week or so.
So what about Huaraz itself?
Huaraz is a nice little town with lots of shops and a plaza where locals come to relax, socialise and people watch. It
has a fresh food market right next to clothes stores, an artesanal market selling woven goods, small pizza stalls and many international eateries. We even tried the soft drink chicha at one place, which we believe can also be served as an alcoholic beverage. Chicha is a purple juice made from black/purple corn, it actually tasted pretty nice.
As we walked around on our last day, we couldn't help but notice a handful of locals (mainly women) wearing hats - like a taller version of the Ecuadorian hats. We were intrigued by their style too; the hat would be perched on top or sometimes at a slant, they'd wear a knotted satchel on their backs and beautifully patterned thick skirts.
On our journey into Huaraz we also noticed in the smaller villages on the outskirts, the hats were much taller, some just made out of bleached hide. We became really fascinated with the different hat styles we spotted, pointing out new ones we'd not seen before. Each design representing a different community.
With a long journey ahead to our next destination, we decided to eat at one the hostels recommended restaurants (and to take advantage of the
discount they gave us). It served Mexican, thai and indian food. Wow! P chose the very spicy veggie vindaloo and Chris went for the "buy a large for the price of a regular" offer we had on fajitas. The meals were delicious and very filling, falling asleep on our night bus should be fairly easy tonight. Accommodation
: Alpes Huaraz Trek to Laguna 69
: S35 (£7.50) each Transport
: Mancora - Chimbote S65 (£14) each. Chimbote - Huaraz S20 (£4) each Date
: 25th Jan 2016
Tot: 3.412s; Tpl: 0.07s; cc: 37; qc: 173; dbt: 0.121s; 3; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.9mb