Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Huaraz and its surroundings (September 18th - October 1st, 2013)

We arrived in Huaraz looking forward to visiting Cordillera Blanca. We were completely amazed by tons of hiking possibilities this town has to offer, so we stayed here for quite a while.

September 18th - Arrival
After arriving by overnight bus from Lima, we had the luxury of a free pick-up by Teo from our hostel. We were recommended Caroline Lodging already in Lima and were quite surprised by Teo's business plan. He does not pay any fees to booking portals and rather invested into very nice website, which is even available in perfect Czech. Additionally, he provides just great services and we felt like at home during our almost two week stay there. The rest of day we took it easy, we just rested a bit, managed to catch up with our blog and get information on an acclimatization hike for the next day.

September 19th - Lake Churup
Immediately after breakfast we took a shared taxi to Llupa. We had to wait a bit for more people to show up: most shared taxis had gone much earlier in the morning, but we we wanted to have breakfast at the hostel, which started at 8 A.M. Anyway, soon we were in Llupa and started our hike exactly as described by the people working at Case de Guias in Huaraz. We ascended slowly as we needed to acclimatize. Eventually we arrived at Pitec, where we were supposed to pay our entrance fee. Probably because of a bit suspicious weather there was nobody collecting the fee and we freely continued with getting even better views than before.

Bit suspicious clouds, but the weather forecast was correct and we did not even need our rain jackets.
Eventually we arrived at a trickier place with a small climbing section secured by ropes. It was not the easiest but I managed quite well, but Laura took a bit of convincing to continue. In any case, it was totally worth it and we soon arrived at Lake Churup.

Lake Churup

The way down was much easier than the way up. Just getting transportation from Llupa was a bit adventurous. We did not see any colectivos, but managed to hitch a ride on a truck that was carrying road workers. Happy about our first acclimatization hike, we booked transportation to Lake 69 for the next day. In the evening we managed to go out for a dinner with Edgar and Verena whom we met at Huacachina.

September 20th - Lake 69
There was a bit of confusion about our pick-up time. We were supposed to be ready five minutes to six, but Teo was a bit hysterical about us not being ready already ten minutes before six. We did not let ourselves be surprised by this, finished brushing our teeth and boarded the bus. It was quite a long ride, but we made a stop to eat breakfast and also to buy the entrance to the National Park. Later, we made a stop at Orkoncocha lake and views there were already pretty impressive.

Lake Orkoncocha

Soon after we arrived at the start of the hike to Lake 69. We were told by our guide that all lakes in Cordillera Blanca have a name and a number; just Lake 69 is an exception as it only has a number. Already on the bus we met two nice German girls, also staying in our hostel. I found it very interesting that one of them spoke Sorbian as her mother tongue. I was not aware of this Slavic language, which is apparently spoken in a part of Germany close to border with Czech Republic and Poland. The four of us enjoyed each others company and wonderful views of Huascarán.


After couple of hours of hiking, we made it to Lake 69. The surrounding mountains were in the clouds, but we managed to see how a big piece of glacier collapsed above the lake.

The mountains around Lake 69 were not well visible

Group photo at Lake 69

We returned back quite late, but full of impressions from this gorgeous hike.

September 21st - rest day
We had a relaxing Saturday. In the morning we booked the flight from Lima to Sao Paulo. Or at least we thought that we had booked it (more on this horror story later). In the afternoon we found out that the public transportation to Vaqueria, the beginning of Santa Cruz Trek, is sold out. We ran around the town and found one travel agency that was organizing a full-inclusive tour, but still had some free space in their bus.

September 22nd - 25th - Santa Cruz Trek
Santa Cruz Trek was the highlight of our stay in the Cordillera Blanca and we have a dedicated article for it.

September 26th - 27th - rest days + Elumbus horror story
After coming back from the Santa Cruz Trek we found out that we did not have tickets to Sao Paulo after all because Elumbus had been unable to withdraw money from Laura's credit card. Thus, our horror story begin. During these two days we rested quite well physically, but we were mentally quite exhausted. As the Elumbus story was quite long, we decided to write about it in our next article.

September 28th - Laguna Wilcacocha
Being physically rested, but mentally exhausted, we decided for an easy hike in Cordillera Negra. We hiked to a small lake called Laguna Wilcacocha. The lake itself is completely boring compared to all the other lakes we visited in the area, but it had a great view of the Cordillera Blanca, because it is from the other mountain range.

Views from Laguna Wilcacocha

We met this small lamb on the way down

September 29th - The Rock Forest (Hatan Machay)
The next day we first took a colectivo to Catac and then a taxi to Hatan Machay. Hatan Machay used to be an underwater volcano that erupted and formed one of the best climbing places in South America. Unfortunately for me, Laura was not in the mood for climbing and I did not find another climbing partner.

Of course I climbed at least a bit

The place was really impressive and crazy huge. Only when we were inside we realized that it is actually one big maze and getting out would not be easy. We spent more than an hour on finding the way out but eventually we managed.

This maze was huge

After getting out of the maze we just walked a bit around it, returned to the near by refugio, which with the exception of Spanish writings looked like a typical Alpine Hut in Austria. From the refugio it was a pretty fast way down to the road and there we hitch hiked on a big bus, taking us back to Huaraz.

September 30th - Laguna Aguas
The first hike we did near Huaraz was to a lake and we decided that our last hike would be as well. We hiked to Laguna Aguas - a rather easy hike. Often, we walk in silence and just enjoy the the path and the views, but on this hike, we really talked a lot. Still, when we paused to take a rest, we managed to take some pictures.

Laura at Laguna Aguas

One of the last pictures from this wonderful stay

October 1st - rest day and departure
After all this hiking we deserved one more resting day, when we had our shoes cleaned, clothes washed, worked on this blog and planned the details of our trip to Sao Paulo in Brazil. In the evening we started on our way there by taking another overnighter to Lima.

As usually we have many more pictures and contributed to OpenStreetMap.

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