The perfect getaway to Huaraz, Peru

Luchenski’s hike to Laguna 69 .
Credit: 
Supplied by Lauren Luchenski

Before the start of the school year, my boyfriend and I wrapped up our summer jobs a little early and packed our bags for one last summer adventure to Peru.

My boyfriend headed for Peru before me to do some surfing in the northern regions, and I was to join him shortly after. 

I landed in Lima, Peru’s capital, and spent the next day exploring the Miraflores District — an upscale part of city — which included a solo picnic while watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

After my day in Miraflores, it was time for the next phase of my journey. My boyfriend and I decided to meet in Huaraz, a fairly large mountainous city in the Andes at 10,000 feet above sea level.

That night, I boarded a luxury bus, complete with comfy seats reclining 180 degrees, for an eight-hour journey into the mountains. After some nausea and brief moments of sleep, the bus came to a stop — an hour earlier than expected.

It was 5 a.m. when I arrived and the sun hadn’t risen yet. The only thing I could see were women selling sweaters, hats and mittens outside the bus stop.

I waited outside for about an hour. It was cold; I could see my breath and wished that I was wearing more than a sweater and rain jacket. The locals looked like they were dressed for Kingston in January.

But as the sun rose, so did the temperature. I saw my first memorable view of the trip as the sun poured over the Andes, bringing the city into view. Local businesses lining wide streets filled with people on their way to work and school, as well as cars anxiously working their way through traffic, emerged at the forefront of the mountain range.  

I was relieved when I finally saw a familiar face in all the hustle and bustle. Complete with his six-foot surfboard and a giant red backpack, I saw my boyfriend wave at me from across the street, holding a piece of paper with my name on it like an airport porter.

Then it was time to go hostel searching. We walked around the city, not entirely sure where to find the hostel we were looking for. After half an hour of fruitless wandering, we finally admitted defeat and hailed a taxi.

Our hostel, Hospitage Ezama, had three floors. On the third floor was an outdoor kitchen and a wrap-around balcony with an awesome view — mountain peaks wherever you looked. I’d never woken up to the sight of mountains outside my window before, but its definitely something I could get used to.

Over the first few days, we spent quite some time planning a trek through the Andes. Trekking is a popular tourist attraction in Huaraz.

We agreed to do the Santa Cruz trek — four days in the mountains with nothing to do but hike and camp. As a warm-up, we decided to do a one-day hike to a glacier lake called Laguna 69.

To get to the glacier lake, we had to squish into a crammed bus with six locals and drive through a rough terrain for two hours.

As soon as we got off the bus in the late morning, we began our trek. It started off perfectly. The beautiful views of turquoise lakes, meadow-like grass and mountains looked surreal.  

As our journey progressed, we began to tire. Up and down the mountainsides, across rivers, through mud and meadows – the hike seemed endless.

To say that I was becoming impatient would have been an understatement. I felt like a six year old constantly asking the trekking guides, “are we there yet?”

Six hours of hiking later, we arrived at Laguna 69. I can confidently say that it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Literally so, considering the water was ice cold, crystal clear, turquoise blue and surrounded by mountains. The scenery was worth every step.

The view at Laguna 69.

After another three hours of hiking back to our van, we walked through a large field, wild donkeys and horses walking alongside us. Upon our return to Huaraz, we were hungry and very tired. Over beers and hamburgers we decided that as magnificent as trekking was, it just wasnt our thing.

We cancelled our plans for a four-day trek and headed to the coast to do something that we were better suited for — surfing.  We spent the last few days of our trip relaxing by the ocean, living off pancakes and forgetting about the schoolwork that was waiting for us back in Canada.

Luchenski’s boyfriend suited up to surf Peru’s coast. 

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