- Hiking / Trekking
Just so you know, laguna means lake rather than lagoon in Spanish. So if you're anticipating a nice little spot on the coast, think again!
It's worth seeing the Laguna Jarau close up. Getting there involves going over a pass at 5000m in altitude, that's about 16,500 feet, which is to say that you might get a little out of breath. Literally and figuratively by the way, the view is breathtaking. It is from here you will get your first glimpse of the lake, a beautiful, perfect turquoise between the snow-covered peaks. It is only after a well-deserved snack break, whilst enjoying the view, that it becomes more difficult: the descent, with no proper path, so steep and uneven that you risk turning weak at the knees, is rather a delicate matter. I think, by the way, that this is the only point during the trek that I had to get out my hiking poles.
Once you have arrived on the other side, you have two options: either you pitch your tent on the village football ground in the next village or, if you still have any energy left, you continue on your way and camp in the countryside. Whatever you decide, keep this place name in your head: Huayllapa. This is the name of the village where you can (in fact must) refuel on cheese, the prize after such a long day. Impossible to forget, without doubt, this is the only large village that you will come across during your breathtaking trek in the Cordillera Huayhuash.
With its contrasting landscapes, cultural treasures and extraordinary cuisine, Peru has everything to attract travellers. Among its most popular sites are Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, which are part of the Inca Trail, but there are other circuits that are well worth discovering.
Head for the region of Ancash to explore the Huayhuash Mountains. This chain of mountains is the White Mountains smaller sister. It is still little visited which means you will have plenty of time to explore it without the crowds of tourists that you often get in Peru.
You should allow one or two weeks to get to know the main places in the range. Along its trails there are splendid landscapes, glaciers, grasslands and lakes. It was during the second part of our stay, after we had climbed the San Antonio Pass, that we discovered Lake Jurau. Its turquoise blue waters reflecting the snowy mountain peaks was a unique spectacle. Once we had seen Lake Jurau we went on down towards Huatiac. Mind your knees, the descent is very steep!