Often considered the most picturesque hike in South America, Laguna 69 is a site of sheer beauty and one that is most definitely not to be missed on your visit to Peru. Laguna 69 is a small lake near the city of Huaraz in the Áncash region of Peru. It is one of 400 beautiful lakes that form a large part of the Huascarán National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere reserve and World Heritage Site. The crystal blue lake lies at the feet of the Nevado and Chacraraju Mountains, which tower over the lagoon with imposing stature. Atop these two mountains rest two massive glaciers, creating one of the most elegant backdrops on show in South America.
With a name as bizarre as ‘Laguna 69,’ people often wonder how the name originated. Before the Huascarán National Park was created in 1975, the lake had no name. Tasked with providing a list of all lakes within the park, authorities were forced to provide names for the lakes which lacked traditional Quechua names like Allicocha, Auquiscocha or Palcacocha. The result was a handful of numerically-named lakes, the best-known of which is the famous Laguna 69.
Laguna 69 is a destination of huge touristic importance in the region, with thousands of hikers and mountaineers visiting it each year. One of the reasons for the lake’s growing popularity is the fact that you can visit it in just one day.
The hike up to the lagoon is any nature-lover’s paradise with scenes of natural beauty around every corner. Views on the trek range from mountains and waterfalls to small creeks and majestic wild animals.
The first half of the trek is the easiest, at only a very slight gradient. After that, the path steepens and the hike gets harder as the altitude increases. All the hard work will pay off when you reach the lake, where you can revel in the awe-inspiring natural beauty around you.
Due to the high altitude of laguna 69 and many other treks and trails in Huascarán National Park, visitors should be very conscious of the threat of altitude sickness. When visiting Huascarán, it is essential for travelers to acclimatize to these heights to reduce risk of sickness and to maximize enjoyment of the area as a whole. It is recommended that people visiting the park spend at least one night in Huaraz before they undertake any treks. Locals recommend eating only a light meal and drinking a cup of coca leaf tea the night before the trek. The day of the trek and throughout the duration of it, drink plenty of water in order to avoid sickness. As a whole, it is very difficult to know who will be affected by the altitude bet everybody can take precautions to minimize the symptoms.