After 2 very long night buses* with lots of people being sick and a quick pitstop in Lima I was finally out of Cusco and in Huaraz. I had made friends with a girl from Denmark named Christina on the bus, who I had actually met doing spanish classes in Cusco, and we set off to find a hostel. Sadly the really popular one (Churup Guest House) was booked out but we found a pretty nice room in the hosetl next door so wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t planning on staying in Huaraz for very long. I decided I would do the Laguna 69 day trek and be done with it. Christina and I walked around to a few different travel agencies to hear about the different treks and things you could do and I somehow was convinced into doing a 5 day hike called Santa Cruz!! At one point I was even considering doing the 10 day Huayhuash trek that had something crazy like 10 mountain passes. Thankfully I came to my sences and opted out of that one but Christina decided to go a head with that one.
After an aclimatization hike that was way harder then I thought it was going to be we were off on our long trek. The first day was the worst for me. It was so hot and I had been sunburnt the day before and it just felt like we were on a slow incline the entire time. I was really regretting my decision to be on this trek. My group consisted of 3 german girls, a swiss girl and Dave a guy from america. I had also run into Isabel a chick I met on Isla del Sol but she wasn’t in my group but we saw her quite a bit.
The second day was a lot easier then the third even though we had to do a massive hike up half a mountain. A good section of it was nice and flat and the scenery was amazing. We saw a beautiful lake and were surounded by snow topped mountains. It was also a beautiful sunny day and didn’t rain once. We got to camp at a really beautiful spot at the base of the mountain we were going to have to climb the next day. A little tip: Bring some cards and books or some other form of entertainment for the evening. It rained most nights so we had to hide out in our tents all night.
It was finally day three and time to tackle the mountain pass. We woke up to pouring rain. Poor dave was suffering really bad from altitude sickness. I hadn’t slept well the last 2 nights and felt like a zombie. We started the long zig zag up the mountain. I wasn’t finding it too bad and reached what I thought was the top in no time at all. I then realised we were only a 1/4 of the way up…. The rain turned to hail and then to snow. After a few hours of climbing we finally made it to the top, 4750m! Poor dave was struggling. He threw up before we even started climbing. At one point they tried to put him on a donkey but they are only supposed to carry 25 kg!! His “rain coat/poncho” plastic bag had ripped and he looked like death. Suprisingly he made it to the top after several more spews and started to feel instantly better as we started going down. I found the decent way harder then the climb. The rocks were so slippery and it is so hard on your knees. I thought once we got to the bottom and I had falen into a huge puddle of mud we would be done! But no! We had to keep walking in the pouring rain for several more hours. I was well and truley over it by the time we got to camp.
The forth day was supposed to be a nice short easy day. The home stretch. It actually wasn’t too bad until right at the end where you had to walk up 1,000,000 steps!! Maybe a slight exageration but that is what it felt like after no sleep and 3 days of hiking. We were finally at the end of the Santa Cruz trek but for some reason we had decided to add on the Laguna 69 hike to the end of our trip.
The hike up to Laguna 69 was awful. It rained the entire way and my legs were so tired from hiking the last few days. The hike just kept on going. Every time I though we would go around a bend and see another huge montain infront of us. The lake was beautiful once we got there but i thought the one we saw on the santa cruz trek was just as nice and we probably didn’t need to go all the way to lagona 69. If you don’t have the time to do the Santa Cruz trek the def go but if you are doing the Santa Cruz trek i wouldn’t bother unless you are super keen on hiking. But really if you are super keen on hiking and have the time you should do the Huayhuash trek. Kirst and Christina had the most beautiful photos from that trek! It is deffinitly the better trek but it is really really hard so only do it if you are fit and enjoy hiking.
*Night bus in South America can be pretty hit or miss. There are a few good companies that most people stick to that give you meals and movies in english and your chair pretty much turns into a bed if you go first class but they are quite expensive. Cruz del Sur is the one most people opt for but this is purley a tourist bus and it is very rare to see locals on this bus. You also have to book ahead. I only splashed out for a fancy bus once as it was a 20 hour bus trip and went with Tepsa first class. It was really nice and had wifi, a power point, good meals, a lazyboy style seat. The movies were still in spanish but I had my tablet so it didn’t really bother me. If you are going to go for the cheap buses make sure you bring some ear plugs as they blast spanish movies and music all night, and warm clothes!! I don’t know why but the buses are FREEZING.