Huaraz & Lake Willcacocha Hike – Day 116

Mon 28th May

I wake early after a relatively good nights sleep….I’m in a 3 bed dorm which isn’t too bad (a lot better than the 8 I’d originally booked)! I chat online a bit to a few people and start looking at accommodation in Lima. Cities are always more difficult to find a place.

After a lazy start to the morning, Lee and I head into town for a spot of breakfast. It’s a bit meagre until they bring out some accompaniments and turns into quite a filling tasty breakfast.

Around the corner is the Akilpo tour office connected to our hostel. Time to find out what hikes we can do in these glorious mountains! I think I already know what I want to do – Laguna 69 and the Paramount Pictures movies mountains. Im then told about another one only this company runs called the Panorama. This includes a hike up to an amazing mirador point then and ascent to Laguna 69 with the possibility of an extra ascent to hit 5000m! I’m dying to hit that altitude so I want to do this and drop Laguna 69 as this includes that anyway.

I want to do the Paramount hike tomorrow but I have to wait for 9 more people to join on in order for it to run. The company insist on u doing a small hike first to check ur ok with altitude so I need to do this or the small hike to Willcacocha first. They tell me to check at 8pm if the Paramount will be running or not.

I had decided to just take today easy and so go for a wander around Huaraz. I stroll around the streets, to Plaza de Armas

and then wonder what to do with the rest of the day….

My mind starts wondering….I already know the Panorama hike is running tomorrow so if I can get to do Willcacocha today, it means I can do that and have 2 days for enough names to be build on the Paramount list.

I rush to the supermarket to buy provisions for tomorrow then back at my hostel ask if at this time in the day I can still hike to the lake at Willcacocha. I’m told I can but if I don’t reach the lake by 1630, I need to descend.

I catch the bus by the hostel to Puente Santa Cruz for only 1s which takes about 30 mins. I chat to a lovely local old man along the way. People here are very friendly.

I get off the bus at my shop and the path is on ur right where u get off. There’s a little tienda there selling drinks, fruit and snacks if you’ve forgotten anything.

There are 2 routes up. The road/path way which is less steep but takes longer or the trail path which is much steeper but a lot shorter.

The path starts at 3160m and as it’s 2pm already, so I decide to take the trail path. You start up the road but when u reach this sign

the trail path is hidden but it’s on the left just beforehand.

It’s a fairly steep hike but nothing too bad just yet and I’m not feeling any signs yet of being at altitude.

I meet a little kid walking up the trail path after being at school in the town. His name is Alejandro

and tells me he lives quite close and points to the mountain in the far distance when I ask where is the like I’m walking too. He then points at a big beetle like creature and starts to stone it to death. I try to tell him not to but he doesn’t listen….I carry on until he catches me up. At his house, I bid farewell to my little companion.

The first part of the trail, the map I have says shd take 45 mins but I do it in 15 mins! So far so good!

Turning left, you walk along the road again briefly, by some houses until you see the trail path again on the right

and take this if ur doing this route. This part of the trail gets a bit steeper but apart from some laboured breathing, I’m still good and keeping up a good steady pace.

The view of the snow capped mountains behind me is incredible and the only time I need to stop is to take a few photos.

I love the mountains and I love hiking and with this amazing view and landscape, I feel in my element. This is why I’ve come to Peru and am most certainly not disappointed.

The path is deceptive in places. You think there is just a steep incline in front of you until you each the top, but it veers to the right and you keep going up further. Finally you reach some steps and through the trees is Laguna Willcacocha. I’m now at 3745m and have scaled 600m in 1 hour and 10 mins as opposed to the 2-2.5 hours they told me it would take! I’m pretty proud of that! The lake itself isn’t that great…more pond looking than anything else

but the views on the way up are amazing and this hike is predominantly to get u aclimatised to the altitude.

I get chatting to 2 Canadian girls at the top that I recognise from my hostel and I walk back down with them. Without really concentrating, I just follow them and end up following the road trail for the last bit back to the bottom and it does take much longer than the trail path. There’s a lot if zig zagging to stop it being so steep but is easier on the knees. You do also get some great views of the valley down below.

Back at the bottom, having walked about 7kms, we treat ourselves to a drink from the tienda and get the bus back.

Back at my hostel, I tell the receptionist I’ve ascended Willcacocha no problem and therefore want to do the Panorama Hike tomorrow. I arrive just in time as there’s a briefing in 5 mins. Here we told all relevant information and given a list of what we need to take. I promptly heard back to my room to pack and make up some sarnies. Today’s heat and hike has left me knackered, so after a lovely boiling hot shower, Lee and I head for some food before I need to try and get my head down for an early night.

Alarm set for half 2 in the morning ready for a pick up at 3…it’s lights off for me around 10pm now I’ve finished this blog post!

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