Day 1: Huaraz, La Suiça Peruana
The most beautiful place I have visited so far. The Huascaran National Park is definitely one of Peru’s forgotten gems, with glaciers, coloured lagoons and incredible views, it has been the best way to say goodbye to this country that has hosted me for the past 3 months of my gap year.
We arrived on Friday morning from an overnight bus from Lima (Company: Oltursa – 8 hour trip) and went straight into our first adventure to Laguna Llanganuco with a tour bus (40 S./ approx $15). The tour had various pit stops before the ultimate highlight, a small town known for its amazing ice cream, el Campo Santo de Yungay- a city that was destroyed during an earthquake and avalanche in the 1970’s and a stop for lunch at a simple but typical restaurant. The whole trip took around 8 hours.
We then headed over to our hotel called El Jacal Guest House, you can check it out on trip advisor and booking.com – it has amazing reviews. It is a cheap but very clean and reliable option for your stay. They even allow you to come back after you’ve checked out and pay an extra 5 soles to have a shower before you get on the bus.
The following day (Saturday) we took another tour bus to the glacier. The stops included the Aguas Gaseficadas de Pumapampa, a place where sparkling water came naturally from the ground. Unfortunately, it wasn’t potable as nearby farming had released harmful chemicals into the source and contaminated it. We went through the Callejón de Huaylas and saw the worlds tallest plants that can grow up to 15m in height and also some native american painting in caves. When we arrived at the glacier we had to walk for 45 min to reach it, as the bus could only get so close. However, for 8 soles you could take a horse ride up to a certain point, and obviously that was what I did. Due to the altitude, it makes it difficult to walk even the last 200m to reach the glacier, so there are men that wait at the top and charge you for a piggy-back ride if you can’t make it! (of course it is very expensive – but hilarious). After seeing the glacier, we were told that it would disappear in the next 7 years due to global warming, which was devastating – global warming is real kids. We were even shown how big is was 10 years ago. After that, we got back on the bus and headed back to Huaraz, where we took another night bus back to Lima.
Tips for a great trip:
As most trips are a very high altitude, I’d recommend preparing for Soroche by taking the pills and drinking lots of water, also avoiding hard treks on the first day you arrive (take the day to aclimatize).
Don’t worry if you don’t have hats and gloves, you cab buy them for 5 soles around Huaraz.
The trip can be easily done in two days – decide what you want to visit before hand. There are plenty of options for trekkers and non-trekkers.
Be aware that the restaurants that the tour takes you are expensive, take your own lunch if you’re on a budget.
Always add 10 S0les to the tour fee (they don’t include the natural park entrance fees).
Drink plenty of mate de coca and chew coca leaves while walking up high altitudes!
It is not recommended to venture on hikes without a guide. Many places don’t have phone signal and you may get very lost!