Laguna 69 (or Lake 69) has become a popular Peru hike as of late and it’s no surprise why! After an endorphin inducing hike, you’re rewarded with stunning views of glacial turquoise waters surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of Huascaran National Park. This trek in Huaraz, Peru has put Northern Peru on the must-visit list for many travelers. Are you one of those wanderlusters? Read below for all you need to know about Laguna 69.
Etymology of Laguna 69:
Why is it called Laguna 69?
Laguna 69 is a lake in Huascaran National Park (Huascarán in Spanish) in Huaraz, Peru. Huascaran National Park has been a Biosphere Reserve since 1977 and a UNESCO Heritage Site since 1985.
When this protected park was being proposed, all lakes needed to be accounted for. Some lakes in the region have names. The Llanganuco Lakes: Chinancocha (which you’ll visit on the way to Laguna 69) and Orconcocha just to name a couple. Others were simply numbered. With 300+ lakes in Huascaran National Park, Lake 69 is just one of the many spectacular lakes and hikes in the Cordillera Blanca part of the Andes mountains.
Lagoon vs Lake:
“Laguna” in Spanish means “Lake”. While it’s tempting in English to call it Lagoon 69, a lagoon is defined by its proximity to the ocean. This glacier-fed lake is nowhere near the coast, resulting in it being classified as a lake and called Lake 69 in English.
Huaraz is located in Northern Peru. Peru is divided into 25 regions and Huaraz is located in the Ancash region, directly above the Lima region. Huaraz is located 250 miles (402 km) north of Lima. Laguna 69 is located 307 miles (494 km) north of Lima.
How to Get from Lima to Huaraz:
Getting to Huaraz is part of the adventure. Since the Lima to Huaraz flight no longer runs, you’ll need to take the bus from Lima to Huaraz.
The bus ride from Lima to Huaraz is 8 hours but can be done comfortably on an overnight bus. It is absolutely worth it to pay a little more for the VIP seats on the Cruz del Sur bus. You’ll have more legroom, fewer people to a bathroom, and even complimentary blankets, pillows, and headphones for the journey. There are day buses available (departing Lima around 7:00am instead of 10:00pm) but taking the overnight option saves you the cost of a hotel and gives you the day to explore Lima instead.
Once you arrive to Huaraz, take it slow and easy as you adjust to the altitude of Huaraz city: 10,013 ft (3,052 m) AMSL. We recommend a couple of days in altitude before doing the Laguna 69 hike.
How to Get to Laguna 69:
From Huaraz to Laguna 69 you can take a private car or go with a bus group tour. Public transportation is possible to the trailhead however, returning routes are rare and you may find yourself asking a bus tour for a ride back anyways. If coming from Lima or the Amazon Rainforest you’ll need to give yourself time to acclimate to the altitude before hiking Laguna 69.
Private Car: From Huaraz to Laguna 69 you’ll drive north for 57 miles (92.7 km). By private car this will take just under 3 hours direct.
Bus: By bus the drive to the trailhead will take approximately 4 hours. Though it’s the same route as a private car, a group tour will make stops along the way for breakfast at a local spot for ~30 minutes. Later, you’ll have another chance to stretch your legs and take some pictures of Laguna Chinancocha. This turquoise lake offers you your first taste of what is to come.
Group or Private Experience:
Laguna 69 is a hike best done with a group instead of as a private trek. Why? Laguna 69 is a popular one so expect to have crowds on the trail either way. You’ll get more out of a private experience on a trail that is less Instagram famous.
Your guide doesn’t offer much on the hike other than making sure everyone gets back on the bus in a timely manner. This means, you’ll for the most part be without a guide but rarely out of sight of other hikers. Lake 69 has clearly marked trails and signs. It is also clearly marked on Google Maps. Hiking Laguna 69 solo would be possible, but the cost of private transportation to and back from the trailhead (around S/200) makes it better to opt for a group.
You know yourself best and what you enjoy most out of hiking. If it is serenity and silence in an untouched landscape then a private experience could allow you time flexibility to have more of the trail to yourself before group hikers. But if making new friends or doing things inexpensively is your style, then a group tour will be perfect for you!
Let us help you plan the perfect Laguna 69 Peru vacation, talk with one of our expert Travel Advisors today!
Where to stay:
Lazy Dog Inn
Lazy Dog Inn is located a 30-minute drive from the Huaraz Plaza de Armas, just under 5 miles (7.8 km). It’s a perfect location for hikers looking for home-cooked meals, a roaring fireplace, and a dry sauna. Surrounded by serene landscapes and within walking access to many hikes in the area (like Laguna Llaca – one of my personal favorite Huaraz hikes), it’s a comfortable, eco-friendly home base for exploring all that Huaraz has to offer.
Rylee McGowan of Peru for Less also recommends these hotels:
Andino Club Hotel
Andino Club Hotel: A cozy 3-star option in Huaraz city. Some rooms are equipped with a fireplace and jacuzzi, perfect for relaxing after a long day of adventuring.
El Patio de Monterrey
A 20-minute ride outside of Huaraz city, Rylee says: “El Patio de Monterrey is lovely if passengers are looking for something more scenic.” Located close to the Monterrey hot springs (Baños Termales Monterrey), it’s an ideal location for anyone looking for a relaxing getaway.
Camping overnight in Laguna 69:
I spoke with Diana from Lazy Dog Inn who told me that “camping is not permitted by the National Park at the lake or at the trailhead located at Cebolla Pampa.” Huascaran National Park is a UNESCO heritage site after all and, just like at Machu Picchu, it’s illegal to camp there overnight.
Diana recommends that anyone looking to camp do so in the designated zone near the parking area. “In addition, if someone has energy and is good at altitude you can hike up to the Pisco base camp and the next day hike over the moraine to Lake 69 and then out. But not for the faint of heart.”
Pro Tip: Bring along matches if you plan on making a fire or are a smoker. Altitude affects butane lighters’ ability to light.
What to Bring:
Your day will be divided into long periods of driving and long periods of hiking. Pack enough food and water for you to be comfortable on both rides to and from Huaraz to Laguna 69 as well as the 6-7 hour hike.
Portable battery charger & headphones: If you use your phone as your camera and listening device you’ll really need a portable charger for this trek. While you’ll probably enjoy the sounds of nature on the hike, you may want music for the long bus ride.
Snacks: A short stop for breakfast will be made but come over-prepared with snacks and food for the long day ahead of you. Pick up some snacks like sugar covered peanuts for 1 Peruvian sol in Huaraz city before your trek.
Water: Pack enough water for you to be hydrated before, during, and after you’re on the trail.
Water for the trail: No less than 3L per hiker, or water purification tablets.
Hiking poles: Optional but recommended if you have any knee trouble. This trek has some uneven ground on parts of the trail.
Coca candies or leaves: A local remedy found readily in Huaraz and Cusco.
Sunscreen: The thinner altitude makes it much easier to get sunburned. In fact, the UV index of Huaraz is extreme all months of the year. Be sure to reapply throughout the day.
Lunch: Bring a hearty lunch that will reenergize you. Avoid heavy foods and red meats. Make sure to take any garbage with you out of the park.
Camera: Even an amateur photographer will take pictures that are enviable! Bring along fun attachments like a fisheye lens that clips to your iPhone.
Waterproofing kit for electronics: Weather can change quickly so always be prepared for any potential downpours. Ziplock bags or containers work great.
Hand sanitizer/baby wipes: Multipurpose companions for your travel pack.
Mini first aid kit: Always be prepared with a small first aid kit equipped with essentials like bandaids for blisters and lip balm with SPF.
Extra pair of socks: An extra pair of clean socks to change into before you get back onto the bus.
Diana from Lazy Dog Inn recommended a “steripen etc. for purifying water [and] small bills and coins as no one ever has change.”
What to wear:
One of the things to know about Laguna 69 is that it starts with a very early morning. Lay your clothes out the night before so that you don’t forget any essentials! You’ll need:
A warm waterproof jacket
Layered clothes. A fast-drying tee-shirt underneath a long sleeve that you can remove or add as the weather changes.
Mountain ranges tend to have shifting weather patterns that can make packing for these areas a bit more difficult. Mountainous destinations in Peru like Cusco in the Andes, or Huaraz in the Cordillera Blanca require dressing in layers. Have light undershirts covered by long sleeves. A synthetic fast-drying material is always best since cotton retains moisture.
Rylee McGowan gave me her list of Laguna 69 essentials: “I recommend a lightweight raincoat or poncho as showers can arise unexpectedly throughout the day. Don’t forget your sunscreen, much of the trail is exposed.”
What to expect:
An early wake-up, a lot of driving, a tough hike, and some wildly impressive scenery.
Laguna 69 hike details:
The ascents are broken up by flatter ground, but this trek gets harder, albeit more beautiful, as you go.
You’ll begin on flat ground with a trail that follows the Ranrahirca river. You’ll see many Queñua trees on the first moments of the hike. As you ascend, the Ranrahirca River and its offshoots turn into spectacular waterfalls. You’ll imagine yourself as a character in a storybook as you traverse the diverse landscapes that change with each step forward.
You’ll pass stone huts reminiscent of ancient ruins, cows grazing along the snaking river, and snow-capped mountains.
Laguna Esperanza or Lake Hope is your “almost there” mark. This small body of water is worth peering into to see the incredible things that are inside (if you like bacteria and minerals). But is otherwise not much of a foreshadow for what is to come: Laguna 69 is much better!
A grueling homestretch ascent brings you to your first views of Lake 69. After approximately 3 hours of walking, you’ve made it!
It’s worth it to keep walking a little bit further away from the crowds. The rocks along the edge of the lake are a good spot to park yourself, take off those boots, and eat some lunch. You’re rewarded with a view of Laguna 69 and the trickling waterfall falling into it. But Laguna 69 is a panoramic experience. The Lake coupled with the surrounding snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, and the taste of the thin air in your lungs makes this hike so popular.
You’ll have about 20-30 minutes to enjoy the view before your guide starts calling you back to the trail.
Laguna 69 Itinerary:
Plan to wake up around 4:00am on the day of your Laguna 69 hike. Pro Tip: Ask in advance for your hotel to arrange a boxed breakfast. Sleep in a little longer and eat your breakfast on the bus.
Most tours will pick you up from your Huaraz hotel around 4:30am – 5:30am. Depending on your hotel location and the agency this could mean an even earlier wake-up time.
Bus ride to Laguna 69 trailhead:
The bus ride to the Laguna 69 starting point is about 3.5 – 4 hours. You’ll make a 30 minute stop for breakfast before continuing. You’ll also make a quick 5 minute stop at the Langanuco Lakes: Lake Chinancocha and Lake Orconcocha. These are two glacial-fed lakes just as milky blue as Laguna 69! The bus will stop at Chinacocha.
Begin the Laguna 69 Trek:
You’ll start your hike no later than 9:00am. The beginning ground is level and is immediately a scenic wonder to behold.
Hike to Laguna 69:
Typically it takes about 3 hours to hike to Laguna 69. This will vary depending on your level of fitness and experience with hiking at high altitude. It’s also a very beautiful trail so photo ops will have you pausing often! Laguna Esperanza will let you know that you are almost there!
Arrive at Laguna 69:
You’ll arrive at Laguna 69 just in time for lunch, around 12:00pm. You’ll have about 30 minutes to eat your lunch while you admire the out of this world landscape surrounding you.
Hike back to Bus:
With 3 hours of hiking already behind you, 3 more lie ahead. The grueling uphills now are sharp descents so hiking poles will help you with keeping up a good speed. In theory, the hike back takes less time as the descent in altitude makes it “easier”. However, you will be significantly more tired on the return route which could slow down your pace.
Bus leaves back to Huaraz:
At 3:00pm the bus is scheduled to depart back to Huaraz. The guide will always walk at the end of the group to set the pace, but it’s not uncommon for stragglers to hold up the bus.
Return ride back to Huaraz:
The return bus ride to Huaraz is 3.5 hours. You’ll make another short stop to use the bathrooms. Be sure to use them since you won’t have another chance until your hotel.
Return to Huaraz Hotel:
At 6:00pm you’ll return back to Huaraz city. Depending on the location of your hotel your bus may drop you off between 6:00pm – 6:30pm.
Laguna 69 Weather:
Laguna 69 weather is consistent with other parts of the Andes Mountains. Which in short, means you’ll have fluctuation in weather throughout the day. Come prepared for sun, snow, and rain in one hike. High altitude makes the UV index strong and the need for water stronger. The thin air and harsh winds can make your lips chap and your skin dry.
Huaraz has 142 days of rain on average. But the least rainfall is in the month of July making it the driest and sunniest month of the year for this region.
The average temperature is consistent year-round. The coldest months are January through April and September with an average temperature of 57.2°F (14°C). While the warmer months have an average high of 59°F (15°C). These include May through August. A cold spell comes in briefly in September but temperatures rise slightly again from October through December.
The UV index in Huaraz and Laguna 69 is extreme. June and July have the lowest UV index of the year but still sit at 11 on the scale of 0-11+. Every other month of the year has an average maximum UV index of 12.
In the sun, temperatures will feel much hotter than the average highs. While in areas of shade, or during a snow flurry, it will feel much colder than the average lows. Always check the weather the day before and the morning of your hike to help you prepare as best as possible.
Best time to go to Laguna 69:
The dry season is the best time to hike to Laguna 69.
Dry season falls between the months of May to September. July is the driest month. However, weather changes quickly in this mountain region and even the dry season has its showers. With consistently inconsistent weather almost year-round there isn’t a bad time to visit Huaraz and trek to Laguna 69.
Wet season is from October to April. The same as wet season conditions if you’re also planning to hike the Inca Trail. The trail to Lake 69 is open to hikers during all seasons but during these months be sure to come extra prepared for periods of wet weather.
Dealing with Altitude Sickness:
Rylee McGowan from Peru For Less says: “I recommend allowing several days to acclimate in Huaraz before hiking. I also recommend staying very hydrated, drinking plenty of water and coca leaf tea as well as taking an anti-altitude sickness medication. Consult your doctor for a Diamox prescription. I also recommend trying some easier trails in the area before Laguna 69, such as Laguna Churup.”
FAQs & Expert Tips
What is the altitude of Laguna 69?
14,927 feet (4,550 meters) above sea level. Huaraz, Peru altitude: 10,013 feet (3,052 meters) above sea level.
How difficult is Laguna 69?
This depends on your hiking experience, especially in high altitude. While the trail is moderate, there are steep inclines that ascend you to just shy of 15,000 feet. (4,550 meters) above sea level. Altitude makes this trek difficult. To put it into perspective, the northern Everest Basecamp sits at 16,900 feet (5,150 meters).
How much time do I need to acclimate before hiking Laguna 69?
Expert Travel Advisor Rylee McGowan from Peru for Less says: “I would recommend three days to acclimate prior to starting the Laguna 69 hike. Laguna 69 is at 15,000FT, eek!”
How long does it take to hike Laguna 69?
6-7 hours roundtrip depending on your pace and frequency for taking breaks.
How long is the trek to Laguna 69 lake?
3 hours but with photo stops and water breaks it could take you slightly longer.
How long is the drive to Lake 69?
You’ll be in a bus for a total amount of 6-7 hours roundtrip. Each way is about 3-4 hours with a short stop.
What AM I going to see when I get there?
A gorgeous turquoise blue glacier-fed lake that lies at the bottom of incredibly huge snow-capped mountains.
What can I do in Huaraz while I acclimate for Lake 69?
Diana from Lazy Dog Inn recommends “day hikes that do not keep you in a car all day, Quechua classes offered by the Yurac Yacu Café, [and a] cultural tour of Huaraz that includes not just churches, but markets [and] hole in the wall bakeries.”
What else is there to do in Huaraz other than hiking Laguna 69?
A lot! Huaraz has its own rich culture and history worth exploring. Museums, ancient ruins, impressive flora and fauna, and breathtaking views can certainly be seen with minimal effort. Diana from Lazy Dog recommends the Wilcahuain Ruins and Chavin de Huantar for impressive archeological wonders that predate the Incas.
Rylee McGowan told me: “I loved the California Café in Huaraz, best bread & good beer selection. Café Andino was also fun after a day of trekking, nice atmosphere, outdoor seating, and games to play. The Baños Termales in Monterrey are also nice if your body is sore after trekking.”
How much does Laguna 69 cost?
Entrance to Huascaran National Park is 30 soles (or 10 soles for Peruvian citizens/those with a carnet de Extranjería). Bring exact change for this entrance fee if it is not already included in your tour cost.
When it comes to budgeting for your Huaraz experiences Diana from Lazy Dog Inn advises using “certified guides, not guides from the street that try to undercut the price”. While things can be done cheaply, always make sure that drivers and guides are well trained, have emergency kits, and are being properly compensated for their hard work.
Is it worth it?
Every hike in Huaraz is going to lead you to impressive views, and Laguna 69 is included! The drawback to this particular hike is that it’s a long drive outside of Huaraz and there are a lot of closer and more private hikes in the area. Altitude makes this trek challenging and Instagram has made the trail more crowded. But the pros certainly outweigh the cons: Yes, Laguna 69 is worth it!
Because it’s not just the 30-minute view of the turquoise waters that makes this hike special. You’ll cross crystalline streams with cows grazing along their banks. You’ll travel through scenery that’s going to make you stop and (try to) catch your breath! The Laguna 69 trail is a fantastic example of the flora and fauna you can spot in the Cordillera Blanca. And while it does have a lot of driving, the scenery is worth making a play-list for. Plus, the long drive will give you an opportunity to hydrate well before and after. This will help offset any altitude sickness you may feel.
Laguna 69 is a stunningly beautiful lake nestled within eye-popping scenery. The hike is challenging but leads you through scenic spots and rewards you with a gorgeous place to sit and admire Lake 69. The altitude is challenging, and it’s a lot of driving for a short 20-30 minutes lake view. The lake isn’t as crystal blue as many of the filtered images on Instagram, but its beauty is in no way diminished by this. It’s a fantastic hike for anyone who likes hiking and is acclimated to the altitude.
How can I see Laguna 69 in real life?
If you’re daydreaming of a Laguna 69 Peru vacation let us help you make it a reality! Talk with Rylee McGowan or one of our other expert travel advisors today!
Originally from Canada, Michelle is a wanderer who has made Peru her home since 2018. In search of the best Red Velvet cupcake, she has been eating and travelling her way through Peru and South America ever since. Obsessed with glaciers, mountains, and french fries Peru has become her home away from home.