How to Hike Laguna 69 in Huaraz in 2024

The Laguna 69 hike in Huaraz is one of the most famous hikes in Peru. The picturesque lake has spectacular blue waters. But getting here doesn’t come easy!

It sits 4,600 m above sea level, and you’ll gain 800 m in elevation during the hike. This may not seem like a lot. But it is!

This post covers everything you need to know about hiking to Laguna 69, including how to get there, the truth about how difficult it is, what to pack, and more.

A person walking to a blue lake surrounded by mountains after the laguna 69 hike
Laguna 69 in Huaraz, Peru, is absolutely stunning

Laguna 69 hike summary

  • Time needed: Full day from Huaraz (5 am to 7 pm)
  • Distance: 14 km return hike
  • Costs: S/50 tour + S/30 entrance
  • Altitude: 4,600 m (starts at 3,800 m)
  • Difficulty: Challenging due to altitude
  • Type: Out and back route, meaning you’ll follow the same route back

Where does the Laguna 69 trek start

The hike to Laguna 69 starts from the town of Huaraz, Peru. From there, you’ll take a tour or taxi to the trailhead in Huascaran National Park, which is a 3-hour drive away.

This means you’ll spend at least 6 hours driving from Huaraz to the trailhead and back (which is longer than the hike itself). But it is 100% worth it.

how difficult is the laguna 69 hike
Sitting at 4,600 m, the Laguna 69 hike is a difficult one

How to get to Huaraz

Huaraz is not the easiest town to get to.

It’s located 8 hours drive north of the capital city, Lima. This is the opposite direction as Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Colca Canyon. For this reason, I seriously considered giving Huaraz and Laguna 69 a miss (but I’m so glad I didn’t).

There is no airport in Huaraz; the only way to get here is by bus. This overnight bus departs from Javier Prado or Plaza Norte bus terminal in Lima and takes 8 hours to arrive in Huaraz.

I booked this bus with Cruz Del Sur, which departed Lima at 9:45 pm and arrived in Huaraz at 6:15 am. I then booked the same bus a week later to return to Lima.

It’s a long journey, but the buses are incredibly comfortable with clean toilets. They also have large reclining seats, and I slept most of the way.

how to get to laguna 69 peru
Despite how busy the Laguna 69 hike is, there is lots of space around the lake to enjoy a moment of peace and quiet

Can you hike Laguna 69 independently

I don’t like group tours. I prefer to hike independently and use local transport when possible.

But I don’t recommend doing this for the Laguna 69 hike. Here’s why.

Firstly, you do not need a guide to reach Laguna 69, as the route is easy to follow. You’ll share the trail with hundreds of others, so you won’t get lost.

But it’s the transport and logistics that can be a nightmare!

Unfortunately, there are no direct public buses or colectivos from Huaraz to Laguna 69. This means that the 3-hour drive to the trailhead will take much longer if you go independently, as you’ll make a few stops along the way.

That’s getting to the trailhead. Trying to find a ride back is another story, as there are no colectivos waiting to take hikers back to Huaraz. You can hitch a ride with an organized tour, but this is a risk as they might not have space – especially if you’re a slower hiker and one of the last to finish.

If you want to hike Laguna 69 independently, the best option is to organize a private taxi that will wait for you while you are hiking. But this is much more expensive than a tour (S/200).

This is why I did the Laguna 69 trek with a tour – for the transport.

laguna 69 tours
The trail to Laguna 69 is surrounded by snow capped mountain peaks

The best Laguna 69 tour

Booking a tour from Huaraz is the cheapest and easiest way to hike Laguna 69.

I booked through my accommodation in Huaraz and paid S/50 per person. The tour was coordinated by Esperanza Travel, and I was very happy with them.

This price does not include the S/30 entrance fee to Huascaran National Park, so you’ll need to pay that in addition to the tour costs.

All the tours offer a similar experience, so there’s no “best Laguna 69 tour”. They all depart from Huaraz between 4:30 and 5 am and return by 7 pm. You’ll get the cheapest deal if you book when you arrive in Huaraz. There are plenty of tours so don’t stress about availability.

The downside of taking a tour is that you’ll need to wait for the last person to finish their hike before you can return to Huaraz. This could mean waiting over an hour at the trailhead when you’re exhausted and want to get home.

best places in Peru
The hike to Laguna 69 was one of the best hikes I did in South America

How long is the hike to Laguna 69

It takes about 3 hours to reach Laguna 69 from the trailhead and another 2 hours to get back down.

You’re looking at a total of 5 hours of trekking and 6 hours of transit. It’s a long day!

Is the Laguna 69 hike difficult

Is Laguna 69 difficult? Yes! And this comes from someone who spent six months traveling and hiking through South America.

The difficulty of hiking Laguna 69 lies in the altitude rather than the distance. It’s only 7 km one way, but you’ll gain 800 m on the way up.

It will be especially demanding for beginner hikers who have never hiked at altitude before.

Here’s the thing. It’s such a popular hike, and the photos are shared all over social media, so people often think it’s easy. It is not! But it is achievable for most people, so don’t be scared to take it on.

If you have the patience and determination to get to the top, you will make it.

Laguna 69 trek in huaraz
You’ll run into a few cows at the start of the trail

How to acclimatize before hiking Laguna 69

If you’re coming from Lima (which is at sea level) and hike Laguna 69 the next day, the altitude will get to you. You may develop headaches and feel nauseous as your body adjusts to the thinner air.

If this is the case, you will hate every minute of the hike.

The best way to acclimatize is to spend a few days in Huaraz before hiking Laguna 69. This is what I did. There are a few easier hikes (like Laguna Llaca) that you can do during this time. You’ll enjoy Laguna 69 more by giving your body time to adjust to the altitude.

Best time hike to Laguna 69

Huaraz is the hiking capital of Peru, and the best time to visit is during the dry season from May to September. The temperatures are lower at this time, but you’ll have more chance of clear skies and sunshine.

July and August is high season for travel in Peru. I did the Laguna 69 hike in July, and the weather was perfect. I was expecting Peru to be super busy and crowded with tourists, but it wasn’t as hectic as I was expecting it to be.

October to April brings frequent rainfall, which is not recommended for the Laguna 69 trek. The weather will be unpredictable, and you can get rain, sun, and snow in one day!

Laguna 69 hike difficulty
The first set of switchbacks is long and gradual

Is it crowded

Yes, given that Laguna 69 is one of the most famous places in Peru, it will be crowded. And when you set your sights on the lake, you’ll see why.

The views of the bright blue waters are incredible. Snow-capped peaks surround it, and the setting is breathtaking.

Unfortunately, there’s no escaping the crowds if you’re doing a Laguna 69 day trip. All tours depart at the same time and follow the same route. So unless you’re a speedy hiker and well-acclimatized to reach the lake first, you’ll enjoy the views with many tourists.

But the crowds didn’t impact my experience of hiking to Laguna 69, and there is lots of space around the lake to relax and take photos.

If you really want to get ahead of the crowds, your best bet is to book a private taxi so that you can start your hike before the tour buses arrive. Alternatively, you can camp at Llanganuco Lake or Refugio Peru the night before. But this will make it a 2-day hike, and you’ll pay a higher park entrance fee.

A women taking a selfie at Laguna 69
There were a lot of people on the Laguna 69 hike but it never felt too crowded (and this was in July)

What to pack for Laguna 69

  • 2 litres of water per person
  • Lunch
  • Snacks
  • Windbreaker/rainjacket
  • Gloves
  • Sunscreem
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking poles
  • Hat

Tips for Laguna 69

  • The hike is not a technical one.
  • Bring small change for the toilet at the start of the trail.
  • All tours make a quick breakfast stop on the way to Laguna 69. This breakfast is not included in the tour costs, so bring some cash with you.
laguna consuelo in huaraz peru
After the first section of switchbacks, you’ll reach Laguna Consuelo. From here is still another hour of hiking to Laguna 69

Laguna 69 Itinerary

Here’s what my (long) day looked like.

Pick up from Huaraz

We were picked up from our hostel at 5 am and spent 20 minutes fetching the rest of the group.

After 2 hours of driving, we stopped at a local restaurant for a quick breakfast. Most tour operators will make this breakfast stop, and you can also buy water and snacks here.

Photo stop at Laguna Llanganuco

After breakfast, you’ll continue driving to Laguna 69.

As you get closer to the trailhead, you’ll stop at Laguna Llanganuco for a quick photo. It’s a beautiful large lake (but not quite as impressive as Laguna 69).

laguna 69 peru itinerary
Most tours stop at Laguna Llanganuco for a quick photo

Laguna 69 trailhead

We arrived at the trailhead by 08:30 am – along with all the other tour buses.

You can go ahead of the group and set your own pace. The guides will hike at the back of the group to ensure everyone is safe and within the time limits for getting to the top.

The first section of the hike is flat and surrounded by mountains with cows grazing in the fields.

This is definitely the easier part of the trail, but don’t underestimate it. The moment I started walking fast, I noticed how quickly I was out of breath, so take it easy.

After 1 km, you’ll reach the first section of switchbacks, which zig-zag up the mountain.

Laguna 69 trail head
The uphill climb to Laguna 69

Switchbacks to Laguna Consuelo

This first section of switchbacks isn’t too steep, but it’s still an incline – and a long one at that! As you go higher, you’ll have gorgeous views of the valley below and a few waterfalls.

At the top of this switchback, you’ll find Laguna Consuelo. The path then evens out for a while.

But it’s a further 1-hour hike to Laguna 69 (which involves one more set of switchbacks).

Switchbacks to Laguna 69

This second set of switchbacks is brutal. It’s much steeper than the earlier one, and the air is much thinner.

It took me a while to conquer this section. But after a lot of stops to catch my breath, I finally made it to the top.

laguna 69 hiking guide
Made it to Laguna 69 after 3 hours 20 minutes of hiking

First Impressions of Laguna 69

Laguna 69 is perched at the top of the second switchback. The bright blue water is absolutely incredible and even more impressive with the snow-capped peaks in the background.

It took me 3 hours and 20 minutes to reach Laguna 69 from the trailhead. Depending on when you arrive, you’ll have an hour to enjoy the views and a well-deserved lunch break.

Back to the trailhead

Going down is a breeze compared to the hike to Laguna 69. This part took me just under 2 hours.

After the hike, you’ll need to wait for the rest of your group before you return to Huaraz.

We waited over 90 minutes at the trailhead as a hiker from our group struggled with altitude sickness and took much longer to return from Laguna 69. It was a long wait after a challenging hike, but I didn’t mind it too much. I sat on the grass with my feet in the water and enjoyed chatting with and getting to know the people on my tour.

best hikes in Huaraz Laguna 69
The final stretch to Laguna 69

Laguna 69 FAQs

Here are a few common questions I get asked. If you have any more, drop me a message in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you.

How long is the hike to Laguna 69?

Laguna 69 is a 14 km return hike that will take 6 hours to complete.

How much does it cost to hike Laguna 69?

The total cost for hiking Laguna 69 is S/80. It is made up of S/30 entry fee to Huascaran National Park and an additional S/50 for a group tour.

Is Laguna 69 worth it?

If you’re up for the challenge, Laguna 69 is an incredible hike that’s worth the struggle it takes to get there. The scenery is magnificent, and the blue lake is like something from a postcard.

What’s the difference between Laguna Paron and 69?

I have never seen anything quite as impressive as Laguna Paron in Huaraz! The hike to get here isn’t as tough or long as Laguna 69, so it’s a good option for novice hikers.

But Laguna 69 has everything from a scenic trail to snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, and high-altitude trekking. It’s tougher, but the reward is sweeter!

Can you swim in Laguna 69?

Laguna 69 is a glacier lake, and you can swim in it, but it will be absolutely freezing cold!

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How to visit Laguna 69 in Peru

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About Carryn

Hi, I'm Carryn. I’m an adventure travel blogger trying to figure out my way through life by traveling and exploring. Join me as I share my travel guides and tips for life abroad. Find out more about me here.

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