If you’re heading to Peru then the lagunas in Huaraz are without a doubt one of the best things to add to your itinerary.
In fact, Huaraz is a hub for outdoors lovers, with awe-inspiring mountains surrounding the breathtaking lagunas, meaning you’re never too far from an epic hiking trail or viewpoint.
In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know ahead of visiting Huaraz and its awesome lagunas, including the exact location, how to get there, and the best time to visit. I’ll then run through all of the best lagunas in the area and how to reach them.
Where is Huaraz
Huaraz is situated in the north of Peru in the Ancash Region and is surrounded by the stunning Andes mountains.
Below is an interactive map so you can see the exact location:
What is Huaraz known for?
Huaraz is best known as a base for those who are looking to take part in many of the adventurous activities such as mountaineering, hiking and rock climbing on offer in the nearby mountains. It offers an authentic view of Peruvian life in the mountains, with excellent restaurants and markets offering traditional Peruvian dishes, breathtaking scenery of the nearby Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra mountain ranges and of course, great access to the lagunas.
How to get to Huaraz
To get to Huaraz, you’ll need to take the bus.
Whether you’re coming from the north or the south, there is a great bus network which feeds into Huaraz. You can check the prices and timetable through Busbud – a reputable platform which collates the multiple bus companies available to make things nice and easy.
How long is the bus from Lima to Huaraz?
If you’re coming to Huaraz from Lima, then you’ll have plenty of night buses available, as well as a few that leave in the morning. They all differ slightly, however, you can expect to be travelling for between 8 and 9 hours if there are no hold-ups.
It’s worth noting that strikes and protests are common on the roads in Peru, so if you should always allow for additional travel time when making further plans.
Can you fly to Huaraz Peru?
Although there is conflicting information online about flights into Anta Airport which is the closest airport to Huaraz, there don’t appear to be any bookable flights available. If you find any, then please comment below so I can update this guide for others to use.
Best time to visit Huaraz Lagunas
There are a few things to consider before planning your trip to Huaraz and the number of lagunas in the surrounding area. Firstly, what weather conditions you are comfortable with and secondly, the level of crowds you’re willing to tolerate.
Although the dry season in Huaraz is from May to September, in the surrounding mountains, it’s more like June to August. This is when you can expect almost pristine weather conditions, with blue skies and hot sunshine. However, this is also peak season for visitors and so you can expect many of the most popular lagunas de Huaraz to be flooded with people.
If you’re happy to sacrifice a few blue skies for fewer crowds, then the best time to visit the lagunas in Huaraz is during the shoulder season. This is typically April, May, September and November. Since the weather tends to change for the worse in the afternoons, you’re better off heading to the lagunas early in the morning for the best chance of good weather.
Lagunas in Huaraz
14 best Lagunas in Huaraz
Laguna 69 is one of the most popular lagunas in Huaraz.
In order to get there, you’ll need to tackle a 6.5-kilometre accent through the valley and up the mountain. You can expect to be hiking between 4 and 5 hours since the altitude begins at 3,900 meters above sea level and peaks at 4,600 meters.
To reach the trailhead, you have two options: by bus or through a tour company. The latter is much more straightforward and the cost isn’t significantly more. I’d recommend this option for most travellers since it’s reliable and takes the worry away from being stranded in the mountains.
Still, if your preference is to take the bus, then you’ll need to head to the Simon Bolivar bus station in Huaraz and make your way to Yungay before taking a colectivo bus to Laguna 69.
If you’re not already familiar with a colectivo bus, then these are buses which only leave once they are full. As such, the timings are never certain, but they are very cheap.
Tours do not need to be booked ahead of time. You simply need to speak with your accommodation provider the night before who will be able to arrange for you to take the trip the following day.
Laguna Churup is another one of Huaraz’s popular lakes that many visitors have on their Peru itinerary. Much like Laguna 69, you’ll need to hike a fair distance in order to witness its beauty.
The round trip is 12 kilometres with an elevation gain of 1,240 meters and so it’s no mean feat. Laguna Churup sits at 4,450 meters you’ll certainly feel the altitude kick in on this hike. You’ll also need to wear appropriate footwear and clothing to protect yourself from any unpredictable weather that may come your way.
To reach the trailhead of Laguna Churup you can take a tour or get there by public transport. It’s much easier to visit this lake without a tour since all you need to do is hop in a colectivo bus on the corner of Raymondi and Confraternidad Oeste street in Huaraz and take the 45-minute journey to begin the hike. This should cost no more than 15 soles (£3/$4) each way.
Laguna Paron is a hike that’s on almost everyone’s list if they’re visiting Huaraz. Although it’s a long bus journey, it’s one of the best lagunas in Huaraz’s nearby mountain range. Not only is it a stunning colour, but it’s also only a short hike once you arrive at the trailhead.
Most people use this hike to test how their body will cope with the altitude before moving onto bigger hikes like Laguna 69 or Laguna Churup. Yet, this is arguably the prettiest-looking lake in the region, making it a hike with minimum effort but maximum reward.
The best way to reach the lake is through a tour company. As the hike is so short, you’re essentially only really paying the tour company to transport you anyway.
However, if you do want to consider public transport then you will need to go to Huaraz bus station and find a colectivo that is going to Caraz. You’ll need to ask the driver to drop you off at the Yuracmarca intersection, which is the turnoff to Laguna Paron. From the intersection, you’ll need to wait for another colectivo that’s going to Laguna Paron. By the time you’ve paid for these buses, you could have paid a similar price to join a tour with a direct route from Huaraz to Laguna Paron.
Once you’ve arrived at the Laguna Paron trailhead, it takes just 30 minutes to reach the viewpoint of the lake. You’ll need to bear in mind that the surface is quite uneven, with huge boulders to clamber over and so you’ll need appropriate footwear.
Laguna Wilcacocha is a laguna which sits at 3,850 meters above sea level which is significantly lower than some of the other lagunas in the area. Yet, it’s surrounded by the breathtaking snowcapped mountains from the Cordillera Negra mountain range and it’s much easier to get to.
You won’t find any tours heading here, so your only option is to take a private taxi or a colectivo bus which is heading to Wilcahuain or Santa Cruz. As there is no official bus stop, you’ll need to ask the driver to drop you at the Laguna Wilcahuain trailhead which is roughly 30 minutes from Huaraz.
Once you arrive, it’s approximately an hour and a half to Laguna Wilcacocha and there is no need to worry about directions as the route is well-signposted.
Laguna Shallop is a gorgeous green lake that’s situated at 4,450 meters above sea level and has stunning snow-capped mountains that tower over it. Although it’s not as high as some of the other lakes on this list, the hike to reach it is considered quite challenging.
The hike takes roughly 7 hours to complete and involves a number of demanding accents to reach Laguna Shallap.
There are no guided tours from Huaraz to Laguna Shallop and so you’ll need to take a colectivo bus to Caraz and then take another one to Cashapampa.
Laguna Rajucolta sits at 4,200 meters above sea level and is a popular spot among locals who are fishing for trout. It’s also a good one to visit from Huaraz if you’re tight on time since it’s only 45 minutes away, yet still super pretty with lovely deep blue waters and of course, snowy mountains towering over it.
To reach the lake, you’ll need to hike for around 4-5 hours. It’s definitely not an easy trek, but certainly easier than the likes of Laguna 69 as there are less steep ascents and the oxygen levels are higher at this elevation.
To get to the start of the trail, head to Huaraz bus station and take a colectivo bus to Llupa.
Laguna 513 is somewhat of a hidden gem as not that many people know about it, but it’s just as beautiful as some of the more popular lakes like Laguna 69. Although it still covers similar distance and elevation gain, it’s arguably easier than hiking to Laguna 69 since it sits at a lower altitude (4,200 meters above sea level) which means you shouldn’t be as breathless.
To get to the Laguna 513, you’ll need to take a colectivo bus from Huaraz to Caraz which takes around an hour and a half and then switch to a different colectivo which is heading to Cashapampa, which will take another hour.
Laguna Llaca is yet another hidden gem that is far less touristy than Laguna 69, Laguna Paron and Laguna Churup. Yet, bizarrely, it’s quicker to reach the trailhead and considered an easier laguna to hike to.
The trail begins in the small town of Cebollapampa which can be reached from Huaraz with colectivo buses. If you take the bus from Huaraz to Caraz and then switch to a bus going to Cebollapampa, you’ll arrive after approximately two and a half hours.
From Cebollapampa, you’ll begin your 13-kilometer hike to Llaca lake. This may sound far, but you’ll cover 200 meters less elevation than you would on the hike to Laguna 69. As such, it will likely take around 4-5 hours to complete the hike.
The trailhead to Laguna Aguak is just 30 minutes from Huaraz and sits at 4,580 meters above sea level. Although the trail to reach the laguna is just over 11 kilometres there and back, it’s considered a challenging hike due to some steep sections and high altitude.
Typically, this takes visitors around 6 or 7 hours to complete, so you’ll need to begin the day early to complete this hike before the usual bout of bad weather hits the mountains in the late afternoon.
Whilst this laguna is in close proximity to Huaraz and absolutely stunning, it’s far less touristic than others on this list, providing peace and tranquillity for most of the way.
To reach the trailhead, you’ll need to take a colectivo bus from Huaraz to Willcahuain and ask the driver to stop at the laguna Aguak trailhead.
Laguna Palcacocha is one of the main lagunas which services water to Huaraz. Its stunning glacial waters are fed from Palcaraju and Pucaranra glaciers which tower above it and give it its crystal clear waters. It sits at 4,566 meters above sea level and requires a challenging 25.9-kilometre hike that takes between 7 and 8 hours out and back to reach it.
To reach the trailhead, you’ll need to take the colectivo bus from Huaraz to Carhuaz before transferring to another colectivo in the marketplace that’s heading to Palcacocha.
Laguna Tullpacochat sits at 4,350 meters above sea level with Peru’s highest mountain – Huascarán – towering over it. Whilst the hike to the lake isn’t particularly long, at just under 7 kilometres out and back and only 274 meters elevation gain, the altitude can make it challenging.
To reach the lake, you’ll need to take a colectivo from Huaraz to Musho which should take around an hour and a half.
Laguna Llanganuco is situated at an altitude of around 3,850 meters above sea level which is much lower than many of the other lakes in the mountain range. It’s an absolutely stunning lake which you don’t need to hike to, making it accessible for everyone to enjoy. Once you’ve arrived at the laguna, you’ll be able to walk to a number of different viewpoints, take a boat ride or simply relax and enjoy something to eat.
There are a number of tours from Huaraz that travel to Laguna Llanganuco, including the popular Laguna 69 tour which briefly stops here on the way to the trailhead. Alternatively, you can take a colectivo from Huaraz to Yungay before changing to another colectivo bus which is taking visitors directly to Laguna Llanganuco.
Laguna Querococha sits 4,200 meters above sea level and is best known as being a stop of the infamous Huayhuash trek – a multi-day hike that covers 140 kilometres. Yet, it’s possible to discover Laguna Querococha with a day trip from Huaraz by taking a colectivo bus to Chiquián and then another local bus 20 kilometres north to the start of the trail.
The trail is an out-and-back loop that covers just under 8 kilometres and 300 meters of elevation. It’s relatively easy by comparison to some of the more challenging ones on this list, but you should allow plenty of time as it takes between 3 and 4 hours to reach the start of the trail from Huaraz.
Once you arrive at Laguna Querococha, you’ll likely notice some locals who are fishing for trout. You can also enjoy this activity and camp here if you want to, however, you’ll need a permit from the local authorities. You can get this from any of the nearby towns.
Laguna Artesoncocha sits at 4,400 meters above sea level and is just a few kilometres further than Laguna Paron. It’s a laguna that’s included on the Huayhuash trek, however, if you want to do a day trip then it makes sense to do both Laguna Paron and Laguna Artesoncocha together.
The trail begins just a 30-minute walk from laguna Paron and continues on for approximately another 45 minutes before it reaches Laguna Artesoncocha. Overall, the out-and-back trail is 11.3 kilometres and is relatively easy (aside from the breathless steps due to the altitude).
To get to the trailhead, you’ll need to take a colectivo from Huaraz to Caraz. You’ll need to ask the driver to drop you off at the Yuracmarca intersection, which is the turnoff to Laguna Paron. From the intersection, you’ll need to wait for another colectivo that’s going to Laguna Paron.
Are the Lagunas in Huaraz worth visiting?
The lagunas in Huaraz are some of the best in Peru and so these are absolutely worth visiting. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons that people visit Huaraz.
Explore beyond Huaraz in Peru
If you loved the sound of these lagunas in Huaraz and you’re looking for further things to do, then there are heaps of recommendations worth checking out on my Peru itinerary such as Miraflores and Barranco in Lima.
If you’re looking for something completely unique, then Paracas or Peru’s desert oasis – Huacachina – is also incredible.
Stay Wild Travels.
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