Huaraz – turquoise lakes and a taste of guinea pig

We’re keen to get out of Lima and pretty soon we’re on a bus back into the Andes again, this time on our way to Huaraz. It’s a trekkers’ paradise, and whilst we don’t plan on doing the most famous, four day hike, the Santa Cruz circuit, we’re hoping we can squeeze in a few day tours before heading further north.

It’s a scenic eight hour drive through the mountains, and we arrive around 5pm. It’s a fairly small town, and although there’s a good number of tourist-oriented restaurants around, it’s still got a bit of an edge to it. It’s certainly a far stretch from the Westernised world of Lima, that’s for sure. After a bite to eat at the only busy restaurant we can find, we head to bed, hoping to book some trips in the morning.

Around Huaraz

The next day and we decide to head off to a nearby lake and glacier – Lake Llaca. Most of the tours require you hiring a private taxi, so if you can get a group of four together it will be much better value. As it is, it’s just the two of us, so it costs us around £30 – but that’s for a two hour drive there and back plus waiting time, so it’s pretty good value!

It’s an incredibly bumpy ride through dirt tracks, winding up into the surrounding hills, but the taxi driver assures us his trusty Toyota has served him well for five years so far! Once we arrive at the national park, it’s a half hour walk or so to the lake. Like some of the lakes we saw in Patagonia, it’s a beautiful turquoise colour, with the bluish glacier sitting behind it, and it’s absolutely stunning. Even after some of the amazing landscapes we’ve seen so far, we’re still impressed and spend some time taking it all in before heading back to the taxi. Then it’s another bumpy ride home.

Lake Llaca

That evening and we decide it’s finally time that we tried some cuy – guinea pig. We were planning to taste it in Cusco, which is supposedly the best place to get it, but we were never quite in the mood. It’s not got quite as distinctive a taste as llama, and pretty much tastes like chicken (sorry, can’t be much more descriptive than that), although unsurprisingly there’s not a whole lot of meat on the bone.

Dinner - guinea pig (cuy)

Day two and it’s off to another lake, Llanganuco, this time on a more traditional minibus tour. The tour companies here cater very much for the Peruvian market so there’s no English and we’re the only gringos in the group, but never mind.

Our first stop is at a town called Yungay, which was completely wiped out by an avalanche in 1970, which occurred following a massive earthquake. Today there is a monument to the dead and from the top, stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Yungay

After another hour or so on the bus, we arrive at the lake, another turquoise beauty. We spend an hour exploring the area, whilst some of the group take a boat out onto the lake. Then it’s back on the bus as we head off for some lunch.

Lake Llanganuco

I must point out that the tour guide was extremely chatty and spent most of the time on the bus talking. I’m sure if I spoke better Spanish I’d be able to tell you some interesting facts about Yungay and the lake, but unfortunately I don’t. Sorry.

We arrived back in town around half 6, with just enough time to grab some snacks and drinks before heading to the terminal to catch our onward bus to Mancora. Finally, a bit of beach time.

Lake Llanganuco