Huaraz and the Way Inn
After leaving the Llanganuco Lakes area and driving back through Yungay we headed up the main road through the Callejon de Huaylas to the town of Huaraz. This is the biggest town in the valley but still not enormous.
We had planned to spend a night here but were unable to find anywhere to stay in town, so we decided to head for the mountains above town, to a lodge that had been recommended to us, ‘The Way Inn’.
The road to The Way Inn is another dirt track that stretches 25km into the mountains up to 3700m. At times the track is pretty narrow and passes through a couple of villages meaning that you have to be on the ball the whole time. Fortunately there isn’t much traffic so passing places weren’t too much of an issue. We did have to stop in one village to ask a couple of drivers to move their parked cars so we could get past but this is pretty normal for these back country roads.
The Way Inn is a gorgeous little hostel perched high on the mountainside, pretty much above the treeline, with some awesome views. This is a great place to stay and they do a brilliant 3 course dinner every night for 30 Sols per person (USD 12) which not only tastes great but is a really social occasion as well. Just take note if you want to stay here that they run periodic Ayahuasca retreats which last up to 10 days and they close the lodge for these. The guy who runs the lodge, Alex, is a real character with a few wacky ideas ! If you need to stop and ask for directions say you are looking for Alex’s place, the locals don’t seem to understand when you ask for The Way Inn.
On our first evening while we were having dinner, there was a bit of a commotion as a farmer appeared at the door clutching a plastic bag with the remains of a dead baby turkey in it. Worse still, he was accusing us of having killed it! Now we were pretty sure we hadn’t run over it and it didn’t look THAT flattened to have had a run-in with the Beast, but he was pretty insistent. With the help of a member of staff whose Spanish was far superior to ours it was eventually agreed that a replacement chick would be bought (for S15) and his initial (rather steep) demand for S60 was thankfully forgotten.
The Way Inn has a list of hikes in the area – of which there are a number – and we chose to hike up to Laguna Churup, a lake at 4500m. The start of the hike is across some farmland before you head steeply uphill. Not long after setting out we managed to take a wrong turn and ended up hiking over some fairly uneven ground. We were still going roughly in the right direction but we ended up adding around 2km extra to our hike which at that altitude was a bit unwelcome.
For much of the hike a dog from the hostel joined us – although he was a bit of a tart because he left every so often to join another group of hikers behind us. He came back to us but we lost him just before the top. I’m not sure if he’d had enough or found someone with tastier sandwiches!
When we got back on track we were walking along a ridge towards the waterfall which comes out of the lake. At the foot of the waterfall we looked up at a near vertical cliff with a steep path making its way up – however there were three sections of path so steep that some scrambling was required and steel ropes were fixed to the cliff to help with this.
When we finally reached the top it was pretty cold and we didn’t hang around too long before heading back down.
After a couple of nights at the Way Inn we headed back down the mountain (without incident this time) to Huaraz and managed to find a hotel on the outskirts of town with a big car park. They were happy to have us camp their for a couple of nights and even allowed us to use showers in one of their empty rooms (Gran Huascaran Hotel).