Travel diary Peru: Lima & hiking in Huaraz

Peru Travel diary

I spent a month in Peru. The first week I walked around in Lima and went hiking at a high altitude in the Andes Mountains near Huaraz. 

Off to Lima, Peru!

12,5 hours in the air, I was too excited to sleep and watched four movies. It’s my first time going to South America. The last hour before landing in Lima was amazing, the sun was setting over the high mountains of the Andes. A magical view. 

In Lima, I stayed at a hostel in Miraflores (Kaccla, The Healing Dog Hostel) where I instantly met some amazing people. The first day I did a free walking tour and explored a bit of the old city center. It was much more beautiful than I expected, lots of old colonial and colorful buildings. Unfortunately, most of the historic center was closed down by the police, because they were scared of a big strike by teachers.

On my second day in Lima, I explored Miraflores, a district with high cliffs next to the ocean and lots of shopping malls. This is also the area where most tourists stay. Although it was very cloudy (which is pretty much always the case in Lima), I really enjoyed the views. 

Getting used to the altitude in Huaraz

After two days in Lima, it was time to leave and explore a new place in Peru: Huaraz. Most people take a night bus to Huaraz, but I prefer the day bus, because views are amazing. 

The town of Huaraz has an elevation of more than 3.000 meters (almost 10.000 feet) and coming from the Netherlands, I really needed to get used to it. I took a day to relax, read books and wandered around town for a bit, drinking a lot of coca tea. I think it really helped to take things slow because I didn’t have any signs of altitude sickness. And after a couple of days in cloudy Lima, I was really happy to see the sun and the beautiful blue sky again. 

Let’s go hiking!

In my hostel (Akilpo, I can highly recommend it!) I found some nice people who didn’t mind taking a clumsy Dutchie for a hike. Before doing anything too strenuous, I decided to do an acclimatization hike first. So we took a collectivo (a small van) to a trailhead nearby and hiked up to Laguna Wilcacocha. At first, I had a fast Dutch pace, but after a couple of switchbacks, I was totally out of breath. Hiking at this altitude is really hard! I took it really slow and it felt like it took forever, but I made it to the lake at 3700 meters. I was so happy, I’ve never been this high up before! The views were amazing, seeing the white peaks of the Cordillera Blanca. This is something I’ve rarely seen before, so beautiful. 

The next day, we decided to go for a more difficult hike: the Paramount trek at Laguna Páron. We had to get up at 5 in the morning and drive for 3 hours to get to the lake. The lake has an elevation of 4200 meters, so the air was even thinner than at Laguna Wilcacocha. Our goal was to hike up to 4500 meters, for a great view of the lake. For me, this was really hard, I was out of breath constantly. The first part was a nice path, but after that, we had to climb big rocks, which was really challenging. 

I was in the back of the group all the time, but going really slow was the only way for me to move forward. I was so happy when I finally made it to the top! And isn’t this view of Laguna Páron absolutely breathtaking?

I didn’t get any signs of altitude sickness until we were going back down. I thought it would be easier to climb down, but those rocks were killing me! I got a headache and some dizziness, it was no fun at all. Even on the flat path next to the lake, it was so hard for me to walk.

I was really relieved to reach our van again and got a cup of coca tea from the guide. Luckily, I immediately felt better!

After the two days of hiking (which were considered easy hikes), I decided it was time for me to leave Huaraz. I loved my stay here and hiking in the Andes, but I found it to be more difficult than I expected. I will definitely do more hiking in the Andes, but I rather take it a little slow. Next stop: Paracas & Huacachina! 

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