This is it. The main reason we and many others visit Huaraz in Peru. Besides a few multi-day treks, the Laguna 69 hike is the most popular attraction in the area. With the popularity comes some downsides. Many of these are the number of people at the lake at once from the tours. Thankfully, this can all be avoided.
I have been to many of the different Laguna hikes in the Huascaran National Park. I will say this is the best hike for many reasons. The only water that is bluer is Laguna Paron but that trail doesn’t compare to this one. Laguna Churup has more climbing involved in the form of chains but the lake isn’t as impressive. Lastly, Laguna Llaca has an amazing valley that you hike through. If you can avoid the crowds, this hike will blow you away.
In this guide, I will give you the needed details to avoid the crowds at Laguna 69 and turn this into a 2-day hike.
Where is the Laguna 69 Hike Located?
Many people when wanting to hike Laguna 69 and other treks base themselves in Huaraz. This isn’t a bad idea because there are so many more amenities as well as hikes to do around this town.
Laguna 69 is located near the town of Yungay which is the first major town south of Caraz. If you’re looking to do this hike in 1 day and don’t want to have to wake up as early, basing yourself in Caraz could be a better idea.
How to Get to Laguna 69 Trailhead
There are two main ways to reach the trailhead to hike Laguna 69 if you don’t have a car. Three if you count a taxi the entire way but I don’t recommend this. The main two would be to take a tour or to take public transit.
The cost of travel in Peru, as well as the competition for this hike, helps keep it affordable for many.
Public Transport for Laguna 69 Hike
- From Huaraz look for the bus to Yungay on Mapsme (8 Soles 1-way)
- You will be dropped off at a bus station. Ask around for Cebollapampa. This will take you straight to the trailhead.
- We paid 30 soles there and 25 soles on the way back. It could be possible to do some negotiating as there isn’t much of a fixed fare for this route.
Laguna 69 Tour
Since Laguna 69 is one of the most popular activities to do around Huaraz, there will be many tours that you can do. We opted against a tour because we were doing a 2-night trek. There are some great options though.
You shouldn’t spend more than 80 soles on this tour.
These tours normally don’t come with an entrance fee but you should keep looking for some that do. This tour is simply a ride to and from Huaraz as well as a guide along the trail.
Laguna 69: Tour vs. Independently
There are pros and cons to going on a tour to Laguna 69 as well as going independently. Going on tours can help ease the stress of figuring everything out on your own.
Being that Laguna 69 isn’t a particularly easy destination to get to on your own from Huaraz, most opt for the guided tour option.
If going independently, then I would suggest either leaving as early as possible or turning it into a 2-day hike as we did. This was an added adventure for us.
Also, if choosing to go on a tour, I encourage you to shop around. Huaraz is full of tour agencies. If you’re paying upwards up 80 soles, then make sure that includes the entrance fee.
If time permits, I highly suggest adding the 2-day route to Laguna 60 to your itinerary for Peru.
How to Get to Huaraz, Peru
Huaraz is one of the most popular places in Peru. It’s often referred to as the hiking capital of Peru because of its many amazing hikes. This means there are multiple bus options for you. Buses in Peru, from my experience, are really good and cheap. Below I will go over how to get there from a couple of popular areas in the country.
Lima to Huaraz
Many different bus companies in Lima will take you to Huaraz. Also, there isn’t a central bus station. Most buses have their bus terminal. The most cost-effective way to use these buses is to buy a night bus. Below are some tips for getting to Huaraz from Lima.
- If you don’t want to go to the bus terminal, you can order your ticket on Redbus. This is the go-to for online bus tickets in Peru.
- Julio Ceasar is one of the highest-rated bus companies but they are all pretty good.
- Terminal Plaza Norte and La Victoria are two good stations
- The bus ride is around 8 hours. If you buy early you can get tickets as cheap as $15 to $20.
Cajamarca to Huaraz
Traveling from Cajamarca to Huaraz is slightly more difficult but still very easy. It is only more difficult because you have to switch buses and isn’t a straight shot. You will be going from Cajamarca to Trujillo to Huaraz. This is the route we took and is very easy.
- Go to the bus station Terminal Terrestre Cajamarca ATC & find any bus going to Trujillo. We paid 30 soles for ours
- Once in Trujillo, you can go to the Terrapuerto Trujillo bus terminal or you can buy your ticket in advance
- We paid 70 soles for the 1st class seats which are amazing for night buses. You get better seats that help you sleep at night.
Laguna 69 Facts
Laguna 69 is by far, the most popular day hike in Huaraz and potentially the entire country of Peru. In Huaraz, you will find many tours that will take you on this hike of a lifetime.
Located in the Huascarán National Park, Laguna 69’s closest main town is Yungay. Our colectivo ride from the bus station here to Cebollapampa was spectacular in it itself.
The altitude of Laguna 69 is 4604 meters or 15,104 feet. If you already did the Laguna Ahuac hike in Huaraz, then you’ll be acclimated to this one.
This means you will gain around 800 meters of elevation from the trailhead to the arrival at the lake.
Best Places to Stay in Huaraz, Peru
- Alpes Huaraz: This is where I stayed during my time in Huaraz and it was amazing. The area is set up like a mini-hotel and the kitchen is huge. Dorms are very cheap at $7-$9.
- Krusty Hostel: With great prices for private rooms and growing in popularity, there isn’t much to hate about this hostel. Centrally located just a few blocks from the main square.
- Vacahouse Huaraz B&B: This is a great hostel if you’re traveling as a couple. The private rooms are very nice and for a good price.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
Tips to Avoid Laguna 69 Crowds
There is nothing more disappointing than getting to a beautiful location and it is flooded with hundreds of people. That is often the case when doing the Laguna 69 hike. Below I will list some tips on how to avoid this.
- For day trips, try to start the hike around 7/7:30. The tours start to show up at 11 am. This is much easier if you have your own car.
- Take the route towards Refugio Peru or Camp Pisco & stay the night here. Get up early and you will have no problem beating the crowds.
- Stay in the town of Yungay or Caraz. These towns are much closer to the start of the hike than Huaraz is. This will help you reach the trailhead much sooner.
Whenever you’re hiking at a high altitude, it is good to know that the weather can become unpredictable.
We hiked Laguna 60 during the dry season in July. This meant potentially colder weather but a better chance for clearer skies. The dry season is also when the trail will be most populated.
If you’re hiking here during the wet season, it is even more beneficial to start as early as possible. This will give you the largest likelihood of it not raining.
Entrance Fee for Laguna 69
When taking a tour or colectivo to Laguna 69, you will enter the Huascaran National Park. The fee for entering here (for the majority of hikes) is 30 soles per day.
Our colectivo kindly stopped for us at the ticket desk and we purchased them. Your tour will do the same.
Since we were technically going to be in the park for two days, we got a two-day pass for 60 soles.
If you’re not planning on staying at Refugio Peru for the night, then all you need is a one-day pass.
Laguna 69 Hike Details
- Distance: The Refugio Peru/Pisco hike to Laguna 69 is a mile loop hike. If you are going straight there for a day trip the hike is around 8.5 miles out & back.
- Duration: On average it will take people 5 to 6 hours to finish the day hike. This depends on your fitness level as well.
- Difficulty: I’d rank the day hike as moderate to difficult and the 2-day hike to Laguna 69 as difficult.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike for both of these trails is 1200 feet of difference. The 2 day hike is 3900 feet of elevation or 1200 meters. The day hike is shorter.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
If you want more details on the 2-day route to Laguna 69 then you can visit Alltrails
Best Time to Visit Huaraz
Most people when visiting Peru and especially Huaraz, are here to go trekking. This means the most ideal weather is when there is a lower chance of rainfall.
Even though it is Winter, the best time to visit Huaraz is between May and September. The weather is more likely to call for blue skies and it is also the dryest period of the year.
With how high Huaraz and the surrounding mountains sit, it will always be cold at night.
Tips for Altitude Sickness
A common fear of most people when traveling to these parts of Peru is the chance of getting altitude sickness. This isn’t fun and can ruin a trip. Here are some of the best tips to lower the chances of this happening to you while traveling to Peru:
- Drink a lot of water (I like to aim for a gallon a day)
- Rest, Rest, Rest. Sleep is everything with recovery and health.
- If you’re planning on hiking, start with smaller hikes like Laguna Wilcacocha or Mirador de Rataquenua
- Coca is very popular in Peru and having some of the candy on hand can be smart
- Stop and rest wherever you are
- Take ibuprofen
My Experience on the Laguna 69 Hike
We had this hike on our minds for some time now. I knew it was very popular and we don’t like huge crowds on our treks. We read about some other people doing a 2-day hike to Refugio Peru/Pisco. The idea was to get there and wake up early the next day to start Laguna 69 hike.
Huaraz to Laguna 69 Hike Trailhead
I like to save money where I can when traveling as well as take public transportation. There is something about it being more adventurous and it enhances the experience. So that’s what we decided to do for this one.
The cost was close to the same as if you took a tour but since we were staying 2 days there were not many other options. We took a collectivo from Huaraz to Yungay for 8 soles ($2). Download Mapsme and look for the bus stop there that says Yungay.
We got dropped off at the main bus station here and you will need to ask around for Ceboollapampa. This will take you straight to the trailhead for the Laguna 69 hike.
The cost can vary and you might be able to haggle. We couldn’t find much information on how much that should cost us. We paid 30 Soles on the way there and 25 on the way back.
Trail to Refugio Peru (Pisco)
The trail to Refugio Peru is very straightforward. This is one of the most visited parks in the whole country and they keep the trails well-maintained. Once you cross the first bridge there will be a couple of signs. One points towards Laguna 69 and the other points towards Camp Base Pisco. Follow the one to Pisco.
The trail started to get steep real quick. We didn’t get much of a warmup before starting this. The trail already starts pretty high at 3,900 meters and will increase by 700 meters by the time you reach Camp Pisco.
We didn’t see many people on this trail which was heavenly and the views back were insane. The main people on the trail were porters bringing things up to Camp Pisco for those that will be climbing Nevado Pisco.
It took us around 3 hours to do the hike to Camp Pisco and it isn’t for the faint of heart. We knew that the hike to Laguna 69 the next day was going to be even harder and will be reaching a peak of 4,850 meters.
Arrival at Refugio Peru (Pisco)
After 3 hours we arrived at Refugio Peru for Camp Pisco. This was my first experience staying the night at a refuge and wow what is amazing. We had some issues with payment to stay. We bought a night’s stay from a tour company but the communication didn’t arrive in time. Fortunately, we were able to pay in cash and get our money back.
The Refuge is heated and has a very cozy atmosphere. The best part about this refuge is the food. We paid for dinner and it was one of the best meals I’ve had in Peru. It was a 3-course meal that included soup, chicken with rice, and what seemed to be a coffee cake. This meal helped fuel us for the next day for our hike to Laguna 69.
Day 2 Laguna 69 Hike
This was it. The day we have been waiting for. We knew it was the toughest of the 2 days but was very rewarding. The first part of the hike was rather difficult to find our way, even with mapsme. You will be essentially climbing over large boulders with no real trail. The best advice I can give you is to follow the stacks of rock.
After this part, we started to head up in altitude. We could see Refugio Peru in the distance and were shocked at where we came from. At this point, there was still some snow on the ground from the previous days.
Peak Altitude During Laguna 69
During this section of lower elevation gain, you will reach the highest point along the trail. This point sits at 15,900 feet or around 4850 meters. At the time it was the highest point we had ever reached before. It was hard to breathe but we were doing great on time.
Our goal for this hike was to get to Laguna 69 by 10 am to have the lake for 1 hour by ourselves. So far we were on track.
The views of the surrounding mountains in this section were breathtaking. Once you get to a steep incline with a flag on the rock, it will be all downhill from here.
We were stunned by the view of Laguna 69 from this route. It is much better than the normal trail in my opinion because you come down on it instead of hiking up to it.
Arriving at Laguna 69
Words cannot describe how blue and unique this lake is. There’s a reason this area attracts so many people every year. We got an hour on our own before hundreds of people started flowing in. It was great to get to fly the drone around the surrounding areas.
We enjoyed our lunch here once the crowd started showing up, we packed up and headed back. The trail we took back is the traditional Laguna 69 trail to hike on. It takes around 90 minutes to 2 hours to get back to the trailhead.
FAQs About Laguna 69
Can You Swim in Laguna 69?
Absolutely! But it’s not for the faint of heart…
As you can imagine, Laguna 69 is quite cold and if you are hiking back as the sun is going down then chances are you might stay cold.
But don’t let me deter you from jumping in!
How Long is the Laguna 69 Hike?
It will take on average 3 hours to hike to Laguna 69 and 2 hours on the way back. Add on one hour for lunch at the lake and it’ll take around 6 hours in total.
The normal day trip route is 8.5 miles or 13.6 km roundtrip.
Why is it Called Laguna 69?
When the Huascaran National Park was being made official, they had to choose a name for each lake. If a lake didn’t already have a name then it was given a number.
So, therefore the number 69 is the lake’s placement on a list of almost 300 in the Huascaran National Park.
Is Laguna 69 Hike Difficult?
Most would consider Laguna 69 hike to be difficult. I rated it as moderate to difficult, primarily because of the altitude level and gain.
The 2-day route to Laguna 69 by staying at Refguio Peru is even more difficult.
Make sure you have properly acclimatized and you will be fine doing this hike.
Is Laguna 69 Cold?
The temperature at Laguna 69 as well as the lake itself is cold.
The water of the lake is coming from the glaciers and because it sits at such a high altitude, the temperatures are known to be cooler.
Although, if you sit directly in the sun, it can get hotter than you’d expect.
Other Activities to Do in Huaraz, Peru
Huaraz is a dream location for anyone who loves hiking or climbing. There are so many amazing hikes around this area. Some of these are not crowded at all, even in high season. I love to have a good mixture of non-popular activities and popular ones. There’s a reason everyone goes to these such as Laguna 69 and Santa Cruz Trek. Check out some great activities to do around Huaraz below for a trip to this wonderful region of Peru.
Final Thoughts on the Laguna 69 Hike
The Laguna 69 hike was one of my favorites in all of Peru. It’s hard to say if that would be different if I took a tour. To me, what made this whole experience special was turning it into a 2-day hike and staying at Refugio Peru. This hike has it all. Great valleys, hard terrain, views of large mountain peaks, and course Laguna 69. If you’re looking for a different way to see this area of Peru, I highly suggest doing the 2-day hike to Laguna 69 instead. You will not be disappointed.
Thank you for reading my guide on the Laguna 69 hike! I hope this information helps you if you’re looking for a unique experience when visiting this area.