If you’re headed to Peru soon, you’re probably planning on all of the big, beautiful, and popular things like Machu Picchu and Cusco, and for good reasons! They’re absolutely stunning. But something that seems like more of a hidden gem is Huascarán National Park located in the northern area of the country. This national park is full of incredibly beautiful hikes, mountains, and alpine lakes, and one of those is the breathtaking Laguna Paron. It truly has to be one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in Peru if not the world and lucky for you there are a few different ways to experience it (even if you’re not a hiker). You can enjoy a day trip to Laguna Paron in many ways; it is totally up to how you like to travel and your personal preference. So in this Laguna Paron travel/hiking guide, there will be hopefully all the details you need to be confident adding a Laguna Paron hike to your Peru itinerary.
Related: Peru Itinerary • 10 Days of Adventure
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About Laguna Paron
Laguna Paron is located at over 13,600’ (~4,200m) of elevation and as mentioned before, is within Huascarán National Park, which is located in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. Laguna Paron is the largest lake in Huascarán National Park, and is surrounded by mountains that tower over it at over 19,000’ (6,000m) in elevation. It truly is just an absolutely stunning spectacle of nature, and to date the most picturesque mountain and lake view I think I’ve ever seen.
Where to Stay Near Laguna Paron
Caraz and Huaraz are the two cities closest to Laguna Paron, so you’ll want to stay in either of those. I found our hotel in Huaraz to be very inexpensive (as was lodging in Peru in general, in my opinion) and very walkable. Huaraz is more of a bustling city considering it’s sort of the tourist hub of the area, and therefore it has generally more options (hotel, tours, and otherwise). Compare that to Caraz, which is definitely closer to Huascarán National Park but is less of a hub and much more of a cuter, smaller town. Either are going to be great options for your day trip to Laguna Paron, so it’s really up to you which you prefer. If you like a bigger city with more options and don’t mind a three hour ride, I’d go with Huaraz. But if you want to be closer and don’t mind fewer options for amenities, Caraz it is!
Hotels in Huaraz
Hotels in Caraz
Additionally, if you’re asking yourself how to get to Huaraz, I took an overnight bus from Lima and honestly it was fabulous. 10/10 would recommend. Big, comfortable seats that reclined all the way and a smooth ride. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
How to Get to Laguna Paron
The easiest way to get to Laguna Paron from Huaraz or Caraz is through an organized tour for sure, as that will pick you up in your hotel. I went through an organized tour for a couple of reasons:
- A Laguna Paron tour takes care of everything for you
- The cost was only $35/person; so very inexpensive
- Group tours are reliable
- Renting a car and driving through these mountainous Peru roads seems SO stressful/dangerous to those who aren’t used to it (and I consider myself a very confident driver)
- I had read that the colectivos – the public transit that will get you there into Huascaran National Park from Huaraz or Caraz – were relatively unreliable regarding departure times, so I didn’t want to miss out on Laguna Paron based on those changing on a whim
- You will almost certainly get more time to enjoy the lake if you go via colectivo though; the risk of getting stranded/missing it and therefore the entire trip just wasn’t worth it for me personally
Typically I’m an “explore it yourself” kind of traveler, but given the long distance and concerns regarding colectivos, I went with an organized Laguna Paron tour and I’m very glad I did.
This is the tour I went through but in total transparency, the dropoff at the end of the tour was sort of strange. They didn’t actually take us back to our hotels, instead they took us to a central dropoff point so we all had to walk back to our hotels. Which, normally isn’t a big deal but if you’re not comfortable with that I’d shop around for other Laguna Paron day trip tours.
About the Laguna Paron Hike
There are a couple of different hikes you can do around Laguna Paron that will totally depend on how much time you have in the area.
Because we were on a group tour we only had a few hours which meant we didn’t have time for a longer hike, so we simply took the Laguna Paron Overlook Trail out as far as it allowed. The signage will read Mirador, meaning overlook. You’ll hike the short but steep trail and enjoy the view above the lake from there. It was absolutely gorgeous.
Laguna Paron Overlook Trail
Though this hike wasn’t very long, I mentioned it is definitely steep. Add to that fact that you’re super high up in elevation so it’s going to tire you out sooner than you expect due to the altitude. So definitely make sure you’ve acclimated for a couple of days before attempting a hike.
Knowing that, this short but sweet hike is incredible:
- Rated moderate
- Rated 5/5 stars
- 1.1 mile out and back
- 485’ elevation gain
- Rocky, with some scrambling depending on how far you go out
What Else Can You Do at Laguna Paron?
In addition to a Laguna Paron hike, your day trip could also include exploring out onto the lake itself. You can rent a kayak or rowboat, or hop on a tour boat that rides around the lake as well. Both of these options are inexpensive and will get you out on the lake, should that be how you want to explore during your day trip to Laguna Paron.
If you don’t want to go out on the lake in a boat (because honestly that sounds as cold as it does beautiful and that’s not everyone’s thing), head down to the lakeshore and walk around it! You can explore Laguna Paron on foot without having to hike up at all!
What to Pack for Laguna Paron
Weather at Laguna Paron can be very tricky, it being in a mountain range and all. I certainly lucked out when I visited, as we had gorgeous blue skies and clear weather. However, you will absolutely want to be prepared for any type of weather that can occur, so here are my recommendations:
- Dress in layers
- A warm jacket that’s easy to take off if you get warm hiking
- I love this Eddie Bauer jacket for this
- A raincoat just in case the weather turns
- I had this in my pack with me
- This raincoat is my favorite for years because it packs down to nothing and I have it at all times
- Good base layers
- A warm jacket that’s easy to take off if you get warm hiking
- Comfortable, lightweight hiking boots
- I’m devoted to these Timberland hiking boots and they have never steered me wrong
- A good camera, be it your phone or a separate one (I personally use a combination of my phone and my Sony a7iii and love it)
- Hat and gloves
Other Random Tips for Laguna Paron
In addition to all of the Laguna Paron tour and hike details I’ve laid out, here are some additional miscellaneous trips for your day trip from Huaraz or Caraz:
- Like I mentioned, dress in layers so you can easily add and remove clothes based on the weather
- Acclimate for a few days before attempting any hike here
- Bring snacks for the long car ride and to enjoy at the lake
- Download the national park map on Google Maps so it’s available offline
- Bring cash if you do want to rent or ride in a boat
- The earlier you can arrive, the fewer people will be there
- Look the opposite direction as Laguna Paron every once in awhile, because there’s a beautiful view the other way as well
So there you go, everything you need to know about Laguna Paron and how to enjoy one of the most beautiful Huascarán National Park hikes! If you have any questions, please reach out, and definitely check out my Instagram story highlights for more boots-on-the-ground views of Laguna Paron.