Visiting the Pastoruri Glacier in Huaraz, Peru! ❄️
Glacier Pastoruri actually made me cry.
It was partially PMS (sorry), partially because a boy I was travelling with was doing my head in that day (again sorry Jan, but you were a bit) and partially because the glacier is genuinely quite sad.
Sad? Why? 😥
The Pastoruri Glacier is a victim of climate change. In less than 20-years, including at least 10 of the hottest Peruvian summers on record, the Pastoruri glacier has srunk in half. Now it spans a less than impressive 0.9 square Km. Melting ice has given way to slabs of black rock, and the two small lakes previously near the glacier have gathered the glacial runoff and swollen together. In the past, tourists used to visit the glacier to ski on and ice pick up its enormous height.
These days Peruvian officials have banned climbing on the unstable formation. Peruvians are usually blasé about health and safety, so this means something.
Oh gosh… 💔💔💔
Where is Pastoruri Glacier?
Pastoruri Glacier is located a few hours from Huaraz, in the Cordillera Blanca (white mountain range). The glacier is a bit out in the sticks; it would’ve been very hard to get there independently, so a guided tour is the best choice. I signed up for a Pastoruri Glacier tour at, Akilpo Hostel and got picked up at 9am the next day. This was a nice lie in compared to 4am the day before!
How much did the tour cost?
The tour cost 30 Soles at reception, and then on the bus our guide collected a further 30 Soles for the one-day ticket to the Huascaran National Park. I should’ve bought a 21-day pass, having already paid 30 Soles (other blogs say 10 Soles but maybe it has gone up) the previous day with a plan to return again the following day! If you’re doing a multi day hike such as the Santa Cruz trek, definitely buy the 21-day pass.
The glacier is about a 3h drive away. We returned to Huaraz at roughly 5 or 6pm.
Tip: wear layers and pack some warm clothes and waterproofs for the journey. It is cold 5,100m above sea levels and I encountered hail, snow, wind, rain and sun all on the walk up to the glacier.
On the day of the tour ❄️
After being collected at 9am, after roughly 1h drive we first stopped at a village to reserve our very late lunch. The menu was overpriced. Jan wouldn’t let me order lunch 😂so instead I warmed up with a cup of coca tea.
What do you mean Jan wouldn’t let you? 😂
He wouldn’t let me buy skittles at the bus station either and then ate all of my fizzy fangs. I got my own way in the end and bought some knobbly fake-cheetos from the overpriced breakfast shop. They were terrible but I pretended they were the best thing I’d ever eaten just to shut him up.
Anyway, we stopped at a few random places before getting to the glacier.
#1 Puya Ramondi: this weird plant exists in Peru and Bolivia. It reminded me of a pineapple.
See? Like a weird spongebob-less pineapple. 🍍
#2 Laguna Patococha: sh*t. Sorry, but I’ve seen 200000 million better lagunas. Roundhay Park lake in Leeds is better. I’d rather just get to the glacier a bit earlier than sit in the 4,100m above sea-level in freezing cold at a brown laguna for 10-minutes.
#3 ‘7 Colours Lake’ and a gaseous pond: Irrelevant and I didn’t even notice the hot springs (apparently behind some of the grass) as I was rather distracted by the following –
What on earth is that 👏🏻
Probably the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life? I didn’t pay the 5 Soles for a photo (I spent my remaining change on those rubbish crisps and a cereal bar), but I encouraged Jan to.
Apparently the lake itself was really small. The Israeli’s on my tour bus told me they couldn’t see 7 colours due to the clouds.
Getting to the glacier
From a far away distance, the sheer size of the glacier seemed more apparent. Crazy to think it used to be over double this size only 20-years ago. And I am so glad I got to see this natural wonder before it is gone completely.
Compared to Rainbow Mountain, also above 5000m, this felt like a piece of cake. Probably because I was more acclimatised, and the walk was much shorter. I mean, my lungs still felt like they were doing a lot of work but I managed to power through. It was touted as a 45-minute walk; I did it in about 30-minutes. Jan rushed off with his professional camera (like my brother – Dan – he likes to rush rush rush and I couldn’t keep up) so I walked with an Argentinian bloke who fed me coca leaves.
You can also rent a horse up, but a horse is cheating! And they sell the horse as a pairs so if you’re single… 🤷🏻♀️- I don’t think I could have convinced Jan to rent a horse anyway, even if I wanted to get one.
The path from the parking lot to the glacier was 1.5km and ended with the glacier at 5,100m: a gain in elevation of 100m whilst walking.
Anyway, as I said I got a bit emotional when I saw the glacier. Especially when it collapsed; you could see bits of ice falling off of the glacier. I heard it collapse inwards slightly. To be fair I didn’t even notice the couple behind me taking a selfie…
…I can feel a story brewing with this 👀
At the viewpoint I turned to Jan and said, “I think its quite sad that people come and visit the glacier, without really understanding the significance behind it. The tours don’t explain that global warming is melting this glacier in front of us and that it will be gone in a few years; people just think its a cool place to take an Instagram selfie.”
“Is zees comment directed at us???” I suddenly heard an angry French voice behind me.
Me: No, I just think it is sad that people don’t realise the significance behind the glacier. How we live our lives is literally causing this to melt – it will be gone in under a decade.
Frenchy: Don’t you think it is lucky that we are able to see it before it is gone?
Me: No, I think it is sad that we have to rush to view it and that our children won’t get to see it.
He then started pointing at me and exclaiming to his girlfriend in french. I said, “Assuming I don’t speak french, are we?” (I don’t).
Frenchy: Well what did I just say???
Me, having no idea: I don’t need to repeat what you just said and I don’t wish to engage in it any longer.
Always getting yourself into arguments 😂
My mother always tells me I’ll get into a real scrap one day. There wasn’t much to report on the way back except for a 3h drive via that awful, overpriced restaurant where we waited for a group of Israeli’s to finish smoking weed and to eat their overpriced chicken and chips. Jan and I sat there, hungry. Two hungry vegetarians.
Despite it’s very sad undertone, I’m very glad I visited the Pastoruri Glacier in Huaraz, Peru. It was very moving and an absolutely beautiful sight that was really some food for thought amongst all the fun and other treks I’ve experienced during my travels.
Been to Pastoruri? Let me know about your experiences in the comments below!
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