The road from Huaraz from Casma has a lot of ascending to do. I spent more time than I intended waiting for a shared minibus to fill up (I should have just paid a little extra for a shared taxi), but eventually got there just after lunch time... unfortunately a bit too late - by the time I arrived the national park office had shut. Nevertheless I managed to acquire a decent (German) map from a shop, albeit at what seemed a pretty exhorbitant price.

I hiked the Santa Cruz – Llanganuco horseshoe, a popular walk in the Cordillera Blanca. The main route itself was very enjoyable, crossing a couple of high passes at around 4700m, but the highlight came on the very last day, which was a bit of an extra afterthought. It was getting late in the day and I decided to camp and stay the extra day, rather than attempt to get a ride back down hill (Llananuco is an hour or two's drive up from the valley floor). The mist which had been enveloping many of the high summits for the last three days gradually cleared over the double summit of Huascarán, the highest mountain in Peru. The clouds moved round, giving an interrupted but intriguing glimpse of the mountain top.

The next morning, I got up early to hike up to Laguna 69 before anybody else. The clouds had totally cleared overnight, giving an incredible picture of Huascarán, framed at the end of the valley. The sun was bright, and following the valley the other way, upwards, brought me eventually to Laguna 69, an oddly named but fabulous mountain lake, with the rocks and ice of the surrounding summits walling it in on nearly every side.