HOW TO GET THERE: Take a combi collectivo to Pitek for 7.50 soles (one way) where the trail starts. Both Churup and Shallap are part of the Huascaran National Park and it costs 30 soles to enter.
The Ancash Region is renowned for its stunning lakes, and the 17km return journey to Laguna Shallap gifts you endless opportunities for amazing landscape photography, even before you reach the lake. Laguna Shallap starts in Pitek, at the same place as its more famous neighbour, Laguna Churup. At 4,250m above sea level, it’s been one of the easier hikes I’ve experienced in Peru so far. If you’re a hobby hiker like me, this is a great day hike, though I highly recommend hiking it with others due to the distance and isolation.
My day started at 4.30am, because the group was supposed to meet up at 6am. That’s the eternal optimist in me, however with 15 in our group, we did have the combi to ourselves.
We set off from the parking lot in Pitek around 8.30am, it was still early and the mist in the mountains made the mountains look like it was breathing out fire. Unlike my other hikes, this had gentle inclines and gave me plenty of time to take photos. My friend, Mabel, was with my on this trip and it nice to be able to chat and have a good laugh for most of the hike. He younger brother, his girlfriend and her sister were also part of our large group that day.
There were plenty of shallow river crossings, and for the most part I managed to keep my socks dry. Cows and bulls grazed along the trail, and some of the bulls (and their horns) were pretty big. I think they were mostly curious, if not just mischievous, often deciding that the perfect snack lay exactly where we decided to stop for a rest.
We reached the lake around midday, and it took awhile before any of us decided that we were more hungry than tired. Again, our picnic spot was surrounded by bulls and a few times they got so close that we could hear them breathing! The wind did pick up for awhile, but soon the sun came out and it really brought out the green colour in the lake.
After everyone had food, it really perked us up and it was time to get photos. I had been trying to time a jump shot using the delayed timer on my camera. Soon a few of the others wanted to get a jump shot too, so I taught them how to tuck your legs so it looks like you’re jumping a lot higher (little trick there for you). We even tried a group jump shot, and with a group as big as ours it was pure comedic gold!
The group started heading back around 1pm, but with the rainy season it was only a matter of time before the rain would catch up wit us. Unfortunately some of us got separated when it did and we took a slight detour (another Ronna the Explorer moment to add to the collection!) -don’t worry Mum, in the end we managed to find our way back to the trail.
I ended up going with Mabel to get pollo broaster (deep fried chicken) after we got back to Huaraz. It felt like a good way to end an awesome day out hiking with friends. This was Mabel’s first hike and I couldn’t be more proud of her, she took on 17km in one day! That’s the best part of sharing my love of the mountains - it’s being able to walk alongside friends and making memories together.
Photographs by Ronna Grace Funtelar. Shot on a Sony A6000.
Ronna Grace Funtelar is a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and slam poet currently travelling in Peru. She is a hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.