If you want to hike to Laguna 69, the city of Huaraz is where you need to be. It’s an eight hour bus ride north of Lima, and the trip usually costs around 30 to 90 soles / 10 to 30 usd each way.
I spent over four months in Peru and Huaraz was by far my favorite place. No, the city is nothing special. It’s the proximity to the Cordillera Blanca mountains that really sets Huaraz apart from the rest.
One of the most popular destinations that brings tourists to Huaraz is the the four-day Santa Cruz trek that National Geographic hails as one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. However, if you don’t have enough time on your trip to complete it, but still want to see the beauty of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, then a hike to Laguna 69 is another perfect day trip from Huaraz.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to make it happen, and then enjoy one of the most memorable days of your life on a hike to Laguna 69!
Step 1: Book a Tour
Booking a tour to Laguna 69 is easy. Multiple busses leave from Huaraz every day, and there were at least 100 people or more making the climb with us.
The tours cost 30 soles / 10 usd each but they don’t include a lot. Basically, this is just the price for transportation out to the trailhead and back. Breakfast and lunch are not included and the guide was really only there to keep an eye on things. She didn’t keep us together as a group or stop to give us any information along the way.
The trail to Laguna 69 is very easy to hike on your own, but paying for transport with a tour is definitely worth saving yourself the hassle of getting out there by yourself.
Step 2: Enter the Park
Our day started with a 5:30 am pick up at our apartment and a two hour drive out to the small town of Yungay. We stopped for breakfast at a restaurant here, then drove another 20 minutes to the park.
The entrance to hike to Laguna 69 is in Huascaran National Park. You can either pay 10 soles / 3 usd for a day pass into the park when you arrive at the gate, or you can pay 65 soles / 20 usd for a three week pass. If you want to camp in the park this pass will be necessary, and if you plan to do the Santa Cruz Trek later (which is in the same park) it’s better to save money and purchase the three week pass now.
Once we entered the park, we stopped at the first lake in the series of three we were going to see that day. Honestly, these alone are worth the trip! The Llanganuco lakes are an absolutely stunning turquoise color, and we stopped for 10 minutes to take pictures before driving the final 20 minutes to the trail head.
Step 3: Start the Hike to Laguna 69
The hike to Laguna 69 takes almost three hours exactly. The trek actually isn’t that long but the high altitude and uphill grind make it take much longer than it would in other parts of the world.
The lake lies at an altitude of 14,700 ft., and the trek is about 5 miles roundtrip. Although the beginning is flat, I would still classify the hike to Laguna 69 as moderately difficult because of the long uphill climbs required to reach the destination.
We started to the hike at 9 am with a one hour walk through a beautiful, flat, green valley, enjoying the sound of the rushing river and views of multiple small waterfalls. Next, the trail began to go up.
We climbed for about an hour, and when we reached the top of the mountainside I thought for sure we had reached the lake.
Just another grassy field with a large climb ahead of it. We walked by rivers and past rock walls, glaciers, and stunning white capped peaks, then began the second climb of the day. This one was 45 minutes, and the toughest part of the hike.
All of a sudden, we reached the top. The trail flattened out and opened up to a view of Laguna 69… wow. There are honestly no words to describe how beautiful the first sight was, especially after how hard we worked to earn it. The pale blue water, giant mountains, and shining sun made for a view I will never forget.
We snapped a few pictures, then sat down on the rocks by the river for a picnic. Make sure you pack a lunch, because we were far from any vendors and starving from the climb.
We spent over an hour at the lake laying in the sun, and I even fell asleep on the rocks for a few minutes! It was just that relaxing.
Finally, the guides began to round up the groups to begin the descent.
Step 4: Walk Back to the Bus
We walked back down the same trail we came up and it took two hours to descend. Lucky for us the cloudy morning cleared up and we got more views of glaciers and the different snow-topped mountain peaks along the way. So beautiful!
Finally, we got back to the clearing where we began our hike. The groups spread out a lot during the descent, so we had about 20 minutes to just relax in the sun by the flowing streams before everyone arrived and we boarded the bus back home.
Step 5: Relax at Home
The bus left the park around 4 pm and we arrived back in Huaraz at 7 pm. It was a quick and easy trek, but also one of the most beautiful I have ever done! If you are coming to Peru, this is a must-visit destination in the country. It’s really one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had.
I’ve spent over four months in country, and the hike to Laguna 69 is still one of my favorite treks ever. It’s just unreal with the amazing pale blue colors and the imposing mountain backdrop, and definitely shouldn’t be missed!
This is Part 5 in a 7 Part Huaraz Travel Series. Read the rest below!
How to Hike to Laguna 69 [Part 5 – you are here]
Everything You Need to Know About Climbing Nevado Mateo [Part 6 – read me next!]