Lima Centro and Parque de la Reserva, Lima, Peru

After our trip to Huaraz, we came back to Lima for our last day before our flight back to Toronto. We were suppose to stay again one night in the same hostel that we used when we first arrived, but after all the bus and the cheap hostel rooms, we decided to treat ourselves to a somewhat better hotel for our last night.

We used this last day to go for a walking tour downtown Lima and visiting the San Francisco Monastery and its famous catacombs. Our tour was about 3hrs long and we had the chance to see the change of guard on the Plaza de Armas.

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Pastoruri Glacier, Huascaran National Park, Peru

For our last tour in Huaraz, we decided to head to the famous Pastoruri Glacier, South of the Huascaran National Park. Of all the tours we have done in and around Huaraz, this was the highest elevation (5200m) and it seemed logical to go last, as we had time by then to be adapted to the altitude from the other hikes.

After the not-so-great bus experience we had heading to Laguna 69, our host arranged to make sure that we had a smaller van for transport and got good seats. We were back in a smaller van with the game guide that took us to Laguna Paron, and we left early in the morning for the big day.

This was another full day trip.

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Laguna 69, Huascaran National Park, Huaraz, Peru

For our second day trip from Huaraz, we decided to book for a hike to the famous Laguna 69, in Huascaran National Park. We chose the order of our day tours based on the altitude. Eventhough we spent quite a bit of time in Cusco and around, we still wanted to start with the lowest elevation and make our way up every day. We knew the hiking in Huaraz was probably going to be harder on us as well, considering that we would be getting up very early every day, doing long bus rides (seemed to be the theme in Peru), and hiking in altitude.

So on our 3rd day in Huaraz, we had an early morning pick-up from our hostel. Unfortunately, because we were the last ones to get on the bus (our hostel was already North of the center of Huaraz, which also meant we could sleep a bit longer in the morning while all the other travelers were getting picked up downtown), we ended up with the last 2 seats, completely at the back (the last row with 5 seats instead of 4). There was a lot of construction on our road, so we were in for about a 3h drive, very uncomfortable. The tour was 50 soles with an additional 30 soles that you must pay at the entrance. If you are in the area for more than 4 days, it might be worth buying a multi-day pass. You can ask any tour agency about the details. We chose to buy day by day, as it was about the same price or cheaper for us considering the time we were in Huaraz. The trail for the Laguna 69 is just under 14km round-trip, with a total of about 842m of elevation gain, reaching a high of 4600m.

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Laguna Paron, Huaraz, Peru

As I explained in my previous post, we took our first day in Huaraz to shop around the prices for the daily mountain excursions. We found a company that was charging us 50 soles per day for each of Laguna Paron, Laguna 69 and the Glacier Pasturori Excursion. When we got back to our hostel, we talked with our host and we dealt with him about the same price for the tours, which he booked for us directly with his contact agency. This guaranteed us some sort of accountability and we knew they trusted this company as well.

Our first day trip was to head to Laguna Paron, in the Cordillera Blanca. The idea was that we chose the order of the excursions based on the altitude. As we were coming back from Cusco and had already hiked up to Rainbow Mountain, we knew we would be fine with the altitude. However, the overnight bus made us tired as well, so we wanted to go gradually. That morning, we were picked up around 730am and we drove for about 3hrs. It was nice to be in a smaller mini-van with our tour guide. She spoke mainly just Spanish, and talked – A LOT. We did a very short stop on the way to get some ice cream and snacks in a small town, before starting our uphill ride towards the Huascaran National Park entrance. From there, our driver started going on this very rugged dirt and rock road zigzagging up the valley.

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Huaraz, Peru

Our flight from Cusco was scheduled to arrive in Lima at 330PM, and I had previously booked an overnight bus to Huaraz from Plaza Norte terminal in Lima, with Cruz del Sur. Our bus ticket was 75 soles for the VIP seat. By the way, when in South America, always try to see if you can get a semi-cama (semi-bed) seat downstairs (most overnight buses are double decks). Usually, the first floor has only 3 larger seats wide, vs 4 seats on the second floor. You will be paying a bit more, however I always keep in mind that I am saving one night of accommodation, so I can spare a few bucks for the bus to make my night of sleep slightly more comfy. I am quite a sleeper, so when on the road, I tend to get sick quicker if I don’t sleep enough!

While reading online, I saw a few comments about how the area around the Plaza Norte Terminal wasn’t necessarily the safest to hang out. The day before our flight, I started looking at some last minute options for us. We would have about 6hrs to kill in Lima before our night bus departure time, and I wasn’t really keen to just taxi to Plaza Norte and wait on a bench with all of our luggage for that amount of time. I decided to book a cheap hostel room between the airport in Lima and Plaza Norte. I booked at Mama’s Backpackers, which is about 10min drive from the bus terminal. They offered a pick up from the airport, and Mama’s brother also offered to drive us to the terminal for a cheap fee later at night. In Lima, you can also use Uber or EasyCab apps. They recommended a good local restaurant where we went for dinner, and we used the massive and lovely common area to relax and refresh before heading for the night bus. I don’t think I would stay in the area as my base in Lima, however this was a perfect spot for transition and proximity to the airport.

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Maras (Salineras) and Moray, Sacred Valley, Cusco, Peru

On our 5th day in Cusco, we had booked a bus, day tour to visit part of the Sacred Valley. There are a lot of activities to do in the area, and you could definitely squeeze all of them into a long day trip if you want. I am really not a fan of spending all my time in a bus when I travel, so I usually try to do less but enjoy it more. Therefore, we decided to only book the day tour going to Moray, Maras and the Salineras (which is only a fraction of everything you could visit in the Sacred Valley!). I have heard really good things about Ollantaytambo as well, however, as we did see the area quickly during our train ride to Aguas Caliente (the views were epic, by the way), we chose to go for the sites that seemed different and more appealing to us. This post is going to be much longer that it should be, however I think this is a great travel story and you might enjoy it!

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