Huaraz town rooftops with the Corderilla Blanca range in the background
The bus got in pretty damn early (about 5.30am) and despite my request, the guy from Caroline's Lodging was not there. So a S.3 taxi later, I was on the doorstep and greated by the likeable Tio. I went straight to bed to try and get a couple of hours to get rid of the night bus sick-i-ness that tends to get me when I don't sleep very well. When the light arrived I had my first glimpse of Huaraz - it reminded of Banos in Ecuador - a stunning setting all around, although this time the peaks were snow capped - beautiful. But also in common with Banos, Huaraz is a mass of crappy unfinished concrete, which kind of spoils the view. Still, who am I am to argue with the Peruvian tax laws eh.
Very, very nice
Its just a shame the people are not encouraged to actually complete their houses. Had a pretty lazy day, and just walked round the town looking at tour agencies to do the Santa Cruz
trek in a few days. I eventually settled on going with the tour arranged through the hostel (they use Peruvian Andes Aventures), for a decent price of S.300 ($105/£65) for a 4 day/3 night trek.
I ended up getting myself on another trek the next day as Santa Cruz wasn't leaving until Saturday. So I joined the 14 others going from the hostel to Laguna 69 for the day. It was a long day all round, taking a good 3 hours each way in a minibus to the start/end point (S.30/£7.50 each, transport only from Huaraz, no guide needed). We set off fleet footed from the 3,900m altitude start, wandering through the open meadows with the ominous peak of Mount Pisco looming large upon us.
wow, look at the colour of the water!
We gradually climbed in altitude and it started to become harder work...and I mean, really hard work! I got chatting to Lisa, Todd (both Canada), Jason (UK) and Kieran (Ire) in the minibus, but our conversation soon dropped off as we struggled to get air into our lungs. We were literally stopping every 100m on the inclines - it was a killer! However, we made really good time getting up to the beautiful turquoise Laguna 69. The sight was truly amazing and really reminded me of New Zealand - good memories. We had an opening of 5 minutes on sunshine at the 4,650m lake for which we were grateful, so we took some decent pictures. It started to rain after we had finished our lunch, so we headed back.
It seemed a lot easier going down, but as soon as we had got back to the minibus pick up point at about 3pm, a huge headache took control of me.
It was agony and the trip back was hell as the bumpy dirt road only made it ten times worse. I had to admit it - soroche
(altitide sickness) had got me good and proper. I wasn't the only one and people were popping pills left, right and centre. I got back and all I could do I was lay in bed, grimacing and hoping it would go. As I layed there I realised I really should have given myself more time to acclimitise before going up to such an altitude....lesson most definitely learned! Still, it didn't detract from a great day - good people, good views.