These twopristine lakes, surrounded by rare polylepis trees, are perched high in the glacial valley above Yungay at 3,850 meters. Between the tumbling glaciers of Huascarán’s north summit (6,655 meters) and Huandoy (6,160 meters), the lake and its turquoise waters, a result of glacial silt, glow in the midday sun. The first lake is Chinacocha. Rowboats can be rented here 8 a.m.–3:30 p.m. The second lake is Orcon Cocha, and the best mountain views are a bit farther on.
The highway from Yungay passes these lakes en route to Portachuelo Llanganuco, a high pass at 4,767 meters, and leads to the towns of Vaquería, Colcabamba, and Yanama in the Callejón de Conchucos. Shortly before the lakes, there is a control booth of the Parque Nacional Huascarán, which charges day visitors US$2.50 and overnighters US$20.
These lakes are one of the starting points for the popular Santa Cruz trek. The base camp for climbing Pisco and the newly built Refugio Peru are a four-hour hike from the Lagunas Llanganuco.
The best time to visit the Lagunas Llanganuco is at midday when the sun is brightest. In the afternoon, the lakes fall into shade and winds whip their waters.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition