My birthday started off a little cloudy and during the day ended up a little stormy! Luckily only a very brief one, and by brief I mean like less than 15 minutes. This did not dampen our spirits or our day and we had the best time exploring the 2 lakes of Llanganuco, drinking beer on the mountainside and feasting on freshly fried local pork.
The lakes are located once again in the Huascaran National Park (s/5pp entry again), but fortunately this time only an hour up into the mountains from the town of Yungay.
In the Llanganuco valley there are two lakes, ‘Lake Orconcocha’ (the furthest) and ‘Lake Chinancocha’ (the nearest and bluest).
Both have a stunning backdrop of high, very dark mountains and the stormy clouds made it super dramatic.
Orconcocha is not at all blue at the far end so we just stopped part way along to check out the birds (the little black dots on the right) on the water and wander through the trees a little.
Driving back, we clambered down the slope of bright white granite to the shore of the lake Chinancocha, which close up looks a little like a Caribbean island with bright yellow sand and bright blue water (if you don’t look at the big black rock behind it!)
We then stopped for a view through the incredible Queñual trees (the orange paper trees!) which I mentioned in more detail in my Laguna Parón post.
Aren’t they incredible?
At the entrance to Chinancocha, there is a little bridge over the river/stream that leads to a woodland area. The area is beautiful and runs alongside the lake and is made up of lots more of those unique trees.
We watched the clouds come in over the lake and the little rowing boats bob on the water, before heading into the trees.
We explored, got very rained on….
….and then sat at the edge of the lake while the wind went a little crazy.
We stayed for a while just taking in the scenery and surroundings, regardless of the weather.
We even found a mountain that looked a little like a gorilla’s face in profile.
Can you see it?
It was so beautiful there and thankfully there was barely anyone there that day, so we basically had the place to ourselves apart from the odd family.
I still cannot get over how blue the water is in these lakes. When the sun shines, they literally glisten and glow, but even with the grey skies the water was stunningly beautiful.
To finish off our trip around the lake (after seeing some very brave – or crazy – people on the little rowing boats heading out onto the very windy lake) we decided to play Pooh Sticks (from the Winnie the Pooh stories).
If you ever find a small bridge over a river or stream you can play this game. We’ve played it ever since we were children and it was always quite fun and pretty competitive. Plus it’s super easy! Just pick a stick, any size or shape, and get ready on the side of the bridge where the water is coming from. Stand in a line and count to 3, then all drop your sticks in. Run to the other side of the bridge and whoever’s stick comes out first is the winner.
I was the winner both times and it was the best feeling. The water gods were clearly on my side! It honestly takes no skill and it’s up to the flow of the water to decide….
After that we headed back to the park entrance to substitute this view for a bar on a hillside with another amazing vista.
Not a bad place for a pint (ish), right?!
Sierra Andina brew amazing beer and their brewery is based in Huaraz, the main city in this region. They have launched a temporary bar in a shipping container just by the park entrance for people to come and drink their beer both on tap and in the bottle with a view of the valley below.
It was the perfect end to our walk.
Sierra Andina is available in bottle form all around Peru and you can even pick it up in the supermarket here in Lima (although not all varieties are available everywhere). I can highly recommend the Alpamayo Amber Ale, the Don Juan Porter (chocolate/coffee notes), and, my favourite, the Pachacutec Imperial Ale (10.5% in bottle, but I think around 13% on tap!). I bought a bottle of the Ginger Pale Ale to take away so I’m really looking forward to trying that too!
After an amazing day we stopped at a recommended place, about 1 minute further down the mountain, for some traditional chicharron. The place was called Recreo Campestre Llanganuco and the food was fabulous, including this delicious potato that was like a cross between a sweet potato and a regular one and tasted exactly like honey. No joke.
We drove home with a double rainbow guiding us back to our valley on one of the best birthdays ever.
I can’t wait to go back again.