A very blue lake
Trip Start Oct 01, 2012
54Trip End Oct 01, 2013
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After a night of luxury on board a cruz del sur bus where we got our own pillows and blankets we arrived in huaraz. Emilio- a hostel owner was waiting for us at the bus station and we all jumped in a taxi and headed to our hostel. Emilio wasn't doing a pick up service he'd just come to the bus station to make sure we got a taxi ok! He showed us to our rooms and then we went back to bed for a couple of hours. We awoke hungry and decided to explore the local town having heard there are plenty of places to eat and drink. After walking around for nearly an hour we settled on a local looking place- not understanding anything on the menu we pointed to pictures we thought looked nice and hoped for the best.. Our hoping obviously wasn't good enough as what came out was the most horrible thing either of us had ever tasted. It was basically red water with lots of dead fish floating in it and the taste was so strong of old fish we couldn't eat any
We enquired about some tours, wandered the streets not finding anywhere that looked remotely nice for food or drinks and headed back to the hostel stopping at the supermarket on the way. We spent the rest of the afternoon starting to communicate with emilio on the best tours, we told us to head to laguna 69 and it was possible to do it alone and also to go on a 4 day trek in Santa cruz, this was also possible to do alone but we didn't want to carry tents and food supplies on our backs for 2 days so opted for a group option. First things first though- we wanted to experience huaraz's nightlife. So after cooking our own dinner- which we later realised was in their family kitchen- we headed out. We walked around for around 45 minutes and couldn't find a single bar, we decided to try one more street and luckily it seems this is where all the bars and clubs are. Huaraz had probably the best bars that we'd been to so far but that was probably because there was no backpackers in them and no gangman style in sight!
The following morning we awoke with groggy heads and headed to a cafe we'd been to the night before which Wed noticed didn't serve dead fish soup! We ate a big breakfast and then headed back to our hostel where we spent the rest of our day. Emilio knocked on our door at about 9 to make sure everything was ok for us to go to laguna 69 the following day, I think he may of been a little drunk as he walked straight over to tai and gave him a huge hug! We had decided- being the experienced Trekkers we were we didn't need a guide!
The next morning we awoke bright and early to catch our first collectivo towards the lake. A collectivo is basically just a mini van that they cram as many people into as possible
We transferred to our next collectivo and sat at the back- 4 of us crammed into a space for 3! The collectivo was full of local people who lived up in the mountains and the women all sported a variety of different top hats, all wide brimmed with lots of different embellishments on them. We hadn't had time for breakfast before we left and so we were happy when the guy working on the collectivo said we were stopping somewhere for breakfast. We bought our ticket for the national park and went to inspect the breakfast options- weird supersize corn, deep fried naan bread and boiled eggs! So we opted for a naan bread each and a boiled egg for later!
As we were dropped off at the beginning the driver of the collectivo said he would come back and pick us up if we paid part of the fare then... No idea why we said ok but we did- gave over our money and set off. As we climbed down through the trees we realised pretty soon that there wasn't really much of a path to follow! We headed off in the only direction we believed it could be and followed the river across green fields as mountains towered over us from all directions, there were lots of cows and horses grazing on the grass which all seemed very scared of us! We carried on walking alongside the river passing trees whose bark looked as though they were made of paper and another huge tree which looked like it belonged at hogwarts! Then we came to what seemed to be a dead end, with mountains on all sides other than the side we had just came from. There was a huge waterfall on our left and as the clouds were quite low it looked as though it was just falling right out of the sky. So we headed in that direction but after a while found ourselves in the middle of some bushes so think we couldn't walk through them any more
As we sat eating our lunch the sun came out and the clouds lifted slightly allowing us to see more of the mountains! Then we heard a huge rumble and as we looked up we could see an avalanche coming down the mountain towards us! On the bus I'd read a little magazine emilio has given us before we left, there were lots of facts about huaraz in it and about the earthquakes and avalanches that have affected the city and surrounding areas. The most tragic earthquake in the history of the whole of the western hemisphere occurred on may 31 1970. Measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale the earthquake destroyed most of the city of huaraz and severely damaged other cities in the area, causing a total of 70,000 deaths and 250,000 casualties. The earthquake also dislodged a huge block of ice from the north peak of huascaran, the tallest mountain in the range, which produced a huge avalanche of mud and stones that buried the city of yungay in a matter of minutes. An estimated 18000 people died and the only survivors were those who fled to the highest part of the local ceremony and some children who had visited a circus a little out of the city (around 200 people in total!)
With these awful tragedies still in our minds we both felt quite nervous as the snow cloud got closer and closer, then as soon as it began it stopped again
We had to be back on the road at 2 for our collection- if he turns up so we had to head back again.
2.5 hours later and we were scrambling up through the trees to the road and to our surprise the guy had kept to his word and was waiting for us! We almost felt bad for doubting him!
By the time we got back to huaraz 3 hours later we were starving and so heading straight out for dinner!
Back at the hostel we found out our next trek leaves at 6am again tomorrow so no chance of a lay in! We packed our bags lay on our bed and fell straight to sleep- despite the dog who has been barking outside for 3 days straight now!