Peru: The breathtaking hike that is Laguna Llaca

Peru: The breathtaking hike that is Laguna Llaca

Cooking fried rice at 4.30am seemed like a good idea before my head hit the pillow the night before, but I soon realised that the smell of garlic wasn’t as appetizing before sunrise. Hiking in the rainy season means early starts, and we were up before many partygoers made it home from the night before. In fact, our small group of four watched in stitches of laughter as a group of young men went from potentially having a fight, to hugging each other and then chanting how much they loved each other. Alcohol does funny things to people.

We managed to catch a combi around 6.30am (Combi #15 for 1.50 soles one way) and made our way to Cachipampa, the start of our hike to Laguna Llaca. Denys and I sat in the front, her nephew found a seat in the back and unfortunately for the tallest in our group, Travis, all the seats were taken. I seriously considered changing places with him, with my five foot frame easily fitting inside. Luckily some passengers got off a few minutes down the road and Travis had a seat the rest of the way. Travis is an American tourist we met at an event a week before and found out that he was a keen hiker. I kept running into him throughout the week, so when we decided to do the hike, I invited him along.



Peru: Laguna Shallap - one of Ancash's hidden treasures

Peru: Laguna Shallap - one of Ancash's hidden treasures

The Ancash Region is renowned for its stunning lakes, yet 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.



Peru: Hiking to the stunning Laguna Ahuac

Peru: Hiking to the stunning Laguna Ahuac

Burning muscles, cramps and even freaking diarrhoea – it may have been a beautiful Sunday, but this was no walk in the park. I’ve hiked almost 20km in a day, and even though it’s 6km one way, it’s the elevation that gets you. Luckily, I had experienced hikers with me who calmed me down when I started to doubt myself, especially as the air grew thinner. Altitude sickness comes in many stages and symptoms – the mild version makes you breathless, and at my worst so far (which isn’t that bad to be honest), I’ve had jelly legs and felt dizzy enough that I had to sit down.



Peru: Willkawain and Coca Leaf Reading Ceremony

Peru: Willkawain and Coca Leaf Reading Ceremony

Willkawain (in Quechua means grandson’s house) is an archeological site dating back to the pre-Incan era of the Wari culture. My landlady, Liliana, said that human remains have been found in one of the smaller buildings within the site itself. There are also tracks nearby which can lead to a lake and a campsite which we didn’t get to walk, but will probably explore another day.

It’s an interesting half-day out and relatively easy to get to - simply take a 1 sole colectivo and you’re dropped off by the entrance (the trip takes about 45 mins each way). Just be aware that on Sundays the colectivos don’t run as regularly later in the day. We ended up walking down the hill for 20 minutes and eventually found a taxi parked up at a soccer game.



Peru: Lake Wilcacocha In The Cordillera Negra

Peru: Lake Wilcacocha In The Cordillera Negra

In Peru, it still never ceases to amaze me where taxis will go, because in the time it took to walk most of the way up to Lake Wilcacocha (I didn’t manage to walk all the way up, read on), the same taxi must have passed us at least three or four times. Each time he would beep in the hopes I would do my lungs a favour and just hop in. The last time we saw him, he was driving a group of five (two in the front) up the pothole ridden dirt road.

It’s been over two weeks since I moved to Huaraz, and the altitude (let’s be honest I have lost a lot of my fitness these last two months) still affects me in small ways. I wake up in the morning a bit snotty, which goes away by mid-morning and doesn’t really trouble me too much. It’s most noticeable when I have joined Christina and Isobel (the Aussies) on our days out exploring Huaraz’s beautiful mountains.



Peru: Lake Churup in the Huascaran National Park

Peru: Lake Churup in the Huascaran National Park

Lake Churup (Laguna Churup) is a beautiful glacial lake 4,450m above sea level. I’ve been in Huaraz a week, and it just wasn’t long enough for my lungs to adjust to the altitude. A month of relative inactivity has also left me in a less than ideal physical condition – both those factors combined made the hike more challenging to say the least.

The morning began with our landlady, Liliana, helping us catch a taxi and negotiated a price of 10 soles each (NZ$4.50) one way, with the drive taking an hour to Pitek (the start of the track). You can also catch a combi, but you may have to wait until it gets full before they head off. On the drive, we picked up Karina, a German backpacker who just happened to be doing the hike that day too.

It costs 30 soles (NZ$13.50) for entry into the Huascaran National Park, and you can pay that at the start of the track. We paid our driver and he said he would be back at 3pm.



Peru: 5 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Time In Peru

Peru: 5 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Time In Peru

You’ve booked your ticket and you have a fair idea where you want to go and what you want to see in Peru – exciting! Whether you plan to do a mad dash of the highlights or spend a few months soaking in the culture and stunning landscapes, check out these five ways to help you to make the most of your time in Peru.



Coastal Kayaking Adventure With
KG Kayaks

Coastal Kayaking Adventure With <br>KG Kayaks

A moonlight kayaking tour with KG Kayaks was my introduction to ocean kayaking two years ago. Since then, I have been out on Ohiwa Harbour to check out the little islands - which make great picnic spots by the way! Most recently, I joined him on the Whale Island tour - where we encountered some decent swells due to the Winter months. There was even a curious seal pup swimming alongside us for part of the trip. This blog post covers an awesome morning exploring the beautiful coastline between West End in Ohope and Whakatane.

It’s only been a couple of weeks of New Zealand’s Spring and I officially have a tan line thanks to this adventure. Kenny McCracken, from KG Kayaks, was already unloading the kayaks at West End when I pulled into the car park. His good friend, Jim Robinson of Motu Trails, made up the trio on this morning trip. Both are experienced kayakers so I knew I was in safe hands, besides, we had picked a beautiful day to be out on the water (read ‘very little chance of me falling in’).