So you have found yourself in the city of Huaraz and looking at escaping into the Cordillera Blanca mountains (part of the Huascaran National Park UNESCO site) to view some of those famous Andes glaciers? But perhaps you’re not quite the fully equipped, death defying, intrepid mountaineer?
Or your too short on time for the famous 4 day Santa Cruz Trek or prefer to sleep in a bed at night! Maybe you’re just looking for an easy day trip to acclimatize to the extreme altitude and want to see something incredible at the same time… Well look no further! I’ve got one of the best tourist attractions in Peru for you!
A day trip to the Pastoruri Glacier will not only fulfil your yearning to feel as if you’re in the middle of the mountains, it can easily fit into any time frame while not being too rough on the body! Most people who spend some time in Huaraz (click through here for a full Huaraz guide) will most likely also make a day trip to Laguna 69 – the stunning aquamarine lake you will see photos of all around town.
From personal experience if you plan to do both walks I would suggest Pastoruri Glacier be your first. Though it may seem rather counter-intuitive as Pastoruri Glacier is located at an altitude of 5000m it is actually far more intensive and a steep 6 hour return walk at 4600 meters for Laguna 69, compared to the Pastoruri Glacier’s casual one hour stroll. The effect of altitude will be more of a little nibble compared to a bite the other way around – but it is cold so take a packable rain jacket or something to protect yourself if / when it rains!
On our Pastoruri tour we reached the glacier around midday and during the last half hour of the drive, as we gained height to the 5000m high glacier, more and more snow started to cover the ground and the soaring mountains around us. By the time we were at the end of the road we were in a winter wonderland, in the middle of the picture perfect snow covered mountains. My kind of place! We visited on the 24th of December, Christmas Eve, and though we were still in the Southern Hemisphere it was the closest we had ever come to a white Christmas! Take that Finland!
If you’re concerned about how you’ll cope with the height there are plenty of local ladies selling everything coca imaginable to help get you through it – leaves, sweets, teas and chocolates galore! The walk to Pastoruri Glacier and its ever-growing lake – a sad result of glacier global warming – takes around 40mins along a winding path that blends in seamlessly with the glorious surrounding landscapes. Its not too strenuous, even with the altitude, though if you wish you can pay to take a ride most of the way on horses!
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Now you're all set and prepared to explore our big wide world, why not sort out everything else out all in one go? If necessary for your travel plans make sure you have brought proper travel insurance, protected your privacy by getting a secure VPN, compared all the top hotel booking sites to find just what you're after, reserved an unbeatable rental car price and - of course - booked the best flight deals!
Many budget travelers (including me) indulge in worldwide airport lounge access, so we can experience luxury while still slumming it in economy. Naturally, we would never leave home without a more a more general travel guide since we couldn’t possibly cover everything here!
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your own path and don't forget to share your best inspiration stories with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...I'd love to hear from you!