What to Expect on Peru’s Laguna 69 Hike

Laguna 69 bright blue lake with bushes in the bottom left

If you’re looking for one of the best day hikes in Peru, look no further than the absolutely stunning Laguna 69 trek. This hike quite literally ends at some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen in the world. And that’s not just my eyes, it has shown up on many a “bluest water in the world” articles. It’s literally so gorgeous. But Laguna 69 definitely makes you work for its beauty! I’m here to help you prepare your for the Laguna 69 hike because I was super nervous going into it since I didn’t personally know anyone who had done it. Consider me your digital sherpa!

Complete Guide to the Laguna 69 Hike

I’m going to break down this guide to hiking Laguna 69 into the following sections to answer all the questions I had before hiking:

  • What should I expect on the trail?
    • What are the technical details?
    • But also like… how hard was it, for real?
  • How prepared was I? What was my level of hiking preparedness/fitness to do this trek?
  • Where should I stay?
  • Should I do an official Laguna 69 tour or go solo?
  • What 5 things should I know before I go?
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What to Expect Trekking Laguna 69

Technical Details

The hike’s official details are:

  • Rated moderate on AllTrails
    • I would say moderate or hard feels accurate (definitely hard if you’re not acclimated)
  • 8.6 miles out and back
  • 2,762 ft (842 meters) in elevation gain during the ascent
  • Gets up to 14,764 ft (4,500 m) in elevation
  • Half flat, half gain
  • 2 sets of switchbacks
  • Laguna 69 is the destination of the hike before you turn around for the descent

What is it *Actually* Like

For the first maybe hour or so hiking Laguna 69, it’s pretty flat and you’re walking along the valley floor next to the river. So this is definitely the easy section, a nice warmup for your body. But also… just so many cows, which I adored. This was a huge highlight for me because I’m such an animal lover. They were all calm and didn’t much care about us hikers traipsing through their home. I loved them all.

After you get to the end of the flat/cow section, you reach your first of two sets of switchbacks. This section is the longer of the two but is less steep. I honestly felt that this section was harder, because it was so long it felt like it dragged on forever. The best thing is, even though this is hard, the views are incredible all around. Waterfalls, a huge valley, snow-capped mountains, and glaciers? Just absolutely gorgeous views for when you’re stopping to catch your breath.

After you finish the first set of switchbacks, you reach a first little lake. It’s pretty but nothing compared to what you’re about to see. This next little hiking chunk is also pretty flat until you get to the final set of switchbacks.

Like I mentioned, these switchbacks are technically steeper but they are significantly shorter in distance. AND you get more awesome glacier views?! They’re the last thing you do before you reach Laguna 69, so it felt easier to power through these.

Then, you arrive to Laguna 69. It’s simply breathtaking. It somehow looks bluer in person than in photos, if that’s even possible. It’s worth every labored breath and every annoying switchback. Hiking to Laguna 69 might be a challenge, but the payoff is so worth the effort.

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How Prepared Was I for Trekking Laguna 69?

To be COMPLETELY honest (you know I always am), I was very scared to attempt the Laguna 69 hike because it’s SUPER high up and we had done the 2 day Inca Trail experience earlier in our trip which we weren’t quite acclimated for yet and it was definitely tough. So adding another, but higher hike of equal/greater difficulty felt a bit daunting.

I’ve done many a day hike, ranging from one mile to 18 miles. However, prior to Peru, my highest elevation hike was around 10,000 ft (3,000 m) so I was not used to the higher elevation hikes we did all over Peru. I am also pretty sure this is the most in elevation gain for a single hike I’d ever done as well. I was in Peru for 7 days already before attempting this hike, and I am certain this helped us out TREMENDOUSLY for trekking Laguna 69 and not feeling like I wanted to pass out.

I’m moderately fit but not super fit by any means. I prepared for Peru by doing hiking prep workouts on the treadmill. The workout I aimed for was a 3mph walk for 30 minutes at a 12% incline. This sounds easy but is… so hard. Let’s be honest that is a nearly impossible workout and people who do that are probably Olympians. My workout typically ended up being around 60 minutes doing 5 minute intervals between 0% incline, 6% incline, and 12% incline. I definitely think this helped make sure my legs weren’t jelly halfway through.

After having completed the Laguna 69 hike mostly unscathed, seen the beauty along the way, experienced the difficult spots, and survived… I can confidently say I’m so glad I did it. It was hard, but I definitely psyched myself out more than I needed to before even starting the hike. We went slow where we needed to, had plenty of water and snacks, and I overall really enjoyed the hike.

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Where to Stay

We stayed in Huaraz, Peru for our Laguna 69 (and other Huascaran National Park) adventures. This was easy for us because the overnight bus station was in Huaraz, so after arriving we just took a super cheap taxi to our hotel. Many tours also started from Huaraz, so while it wasn’t the ABSOLUTE closest city to Huascaran National Park, it was super easy and stress-free.

Booking.com

Ways to Do the Laguna 69 Trek: Tours vs. Self-Guided

You can absolutely do this hike without a guide, but you will have to organize transportation to/from the trailhead. I had read about people taking the colectivo (bus) but I couldn’t find specific schedules anywhere and was a little worried about missing the bus or getting stranded without cell service or a ride home. We didn’t have any days in Huaraz to lose, so this uncertainty stressed me out a bit.

Because of this, we went with a guided tour. You can do Laguna 69 tour in a group or private. We opted for a private tour and I loved it for many reasons:

  1. We didn’t want to make a large group feel like they were waiting for us if we were having a tough time on the hike
  2. Private tour meant additional stops which I appreciated; we got to stop and get out to explore two beautiful alpine lakes on the way to the trailhead and we also got to enjoy breakfast by one
  3. Transportation was completely taken care of and I didn’t have to worry about it at all

This is the tour I did, which I do highly recommend:

5 Things You Should Know Before Your Hike

  1. Bring trekking poles; these will help you out so much
  2. Acclimate for at least 3 days before you attempt to hike to Laguna 69
  3. Do not be self conscious about being slow; you don’t want to hurt yourself and it’s MUCH safer to lag behind than not be able to finish
  4. Consider a water bottle with a built in filter so you don’t have to carry a ton of water and can fill it up as you go
  5. Dress in layers and don’t forget rain/snow gear

So there you go, my complete guide to hiking Laguna 69. As always feel free to holler with any questions here, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible! Also, follow me on TikTok and Instagram, and check my Huascaran National Park story highlights for on-the-ground view of me trekking Laguna 69. Good luck hiking Laguna 69, you can do this!

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