The Santa Cruz trek is one of the best multi day treks in Peru if not the world. With stunning views that take your breath away.
Laguna Llaca | Hike to this stunning glacial lake without a tour
Laguna Llaca is a beautiful hike, It’s more difficult to get to as there’s no public transport and no tours but this adds to the attraction. You will more than likely be the only people there. The road up to the trailhead is long, bumpy and very scenic you won’t believe that it is passable in places as it clings to the side of the mountain, winding up through a canyon past dwellings that look like something from the stone age. It’s very hard to believe that people still live like this.
How did we get to Laguna Llaca?
As this lake cannot be accessed by public transport our hostel arranged a taxi to take us. The journey would be around 2 hrs, mostly because of the condition of the roads, and the driver would wait for us to complete the trek before driving us back to Huaraz. The cost of this trip was 250 PEN which we paid to the driver at the end of the tour. Its always wise to pay at the end which usually ensures that the driver will wait or come back at the allotted time. We learned very early on in our travelling adventure not to pay till the end! The road up to the trailhead of the Laguna Llaca hike is incredibly rough in places so much so that the driver often had to stop to move large rocks from the road. There are places where the road just disappeared and we weren’t sure how we would make it round the next bend but miraculously we did. The drive itself is an experience with the stunning views.
The hike to Laguna Llaca
Laguna Llaca – Easy
Starting altitude 4215m, Height gained 343m in approximately 6km
At the trail head the driver let us out and in front of us was a wide open valley with a river running through it. Beyond the valley was the mountains topped in their white coats. The path is clearly visible from the trail head and the driver said he was going to drive up to the refuge and would meet us there. Our intention was to let the driver know that we would walk back to the trail head once we reached the laguna and the refuge.
The path was amazing and meandered its way at the side of the river. Its advisable to be on the left hand side of the river as you make your way up the valley as on the right side, to begin with, the path disappears. We passed some wild horses and cattle on the way up and once you reach the end of the valley when the path starts to rise a little bit you make your way back over the river to the path on the right hand side of the river that is pretty clear. Follow the path up and round to the base of the zig zag path which will take you up, quite steeply, to the top of the valley when you will get your first glimpse of Laguna Llaca. The zig zag path, although steep, is a really easy path to navigate.
The view, once you come up and over the rise of the hill, is breathtaking. A deep blue glacier lake with a snow covered mountain behind. Its quite surreal. Once here you have the option of following the path further along the lake, on the left had side, to reach the base of the glacier which we did. I only went part of the way but Chris went the full way and once at the base of the glacier was astounded by the sound of the ice cracking randomly high above and echoing round the glacial bowl.
At this point we had intended to catch up with our driver at the refuge and walk back down the valley to the spot where he’d originally dropped us off but when we caught up with him he said it was too late to walk back as the park closed at 4pm and we wouldn’t have time to walk back and then drive back to the entrance of the park. When we reached the refuge we also had to pay the national park fees of 30 PEN per person.
The driver back down the valley was much the same as the drive up with bumps and rocks and missing bits of road all adding to the adventure. Chris saw a Viscacha in the road which is a large Peruvian rabbit and our eyes were peeled for more wildlife as we made our way down the mountain. We arrived back into Huaraz in good time for a welcome refreshment at our favorite bar after one of the best hikes we’ve done in South America.
What to pack for the Laguna Llaca hike
This is not a hard hike but you will still need to make sure you are well prepared. When at altitude the sun is much stronger so you will need to make sure you can cover up and use plenty of high factor sun cream. Take a hat to protect your head from the sun and shade your face. When the sun goes in it can also get very cold very quickly so take lightweight layers, it’s not good hiking if you feel cold.
There’s nowhere on the trail to buy food or water so you will have to carry with you anything you need to eat and drink. Again the attitude affects hydration so make sure you have enough water. The route follows a stream so if you have a good filter bottle you can fill up as you go.
The last part of the hike up the zig zags to the Laguna is quite steep but not to rocky so you need good footwear but you could get away with trail shoes if that’s what you prefer. The path to the second laguna is loose and a little exposed in places but nothing extreme, walking poles would help on this part of the hike if you like to use them otherwise is just a matter of careful foot placement.
This is one of the best hikes we’ve done whilst we’ve been travelling. The views alone are worth it. Its a fairly easy hike and doesn’t take a lot of effort or still to reach the laguna. One thing we would warn against is the time. Let your taxi driver know you intend to do the hike there and back and he’ll advise on the times. You don’t want to miss out on half the hike like we did. If you have time then definitely do the additional walk to the base of the glacier as its so beautiful you won’t want to miss it.
Booking resources for your visit to Huaraz
Tours & Tickets
You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site. Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.
For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.
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Often called the gateway to the Cordellia Blanca or the White Mountains in English, Huaraz is the trekking capital of Peru.
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