Posted by: Jessie Kwak | September 29, 2009

Welcome to Huaraz, trekking factory

The mountains here are beautiful, and the amount of outdoor activities are endless. I think I would love it here were it not for the fact that we’re staying in a hostel where everyone is heading out or coming back from the Santa Cruz or Huahuash treks, or from daytrips to Laguna 69. From time to time people go rock climbing or mountain biking, but if you stay at Caroline Lodging you’ll come to believe that there are only three things to do around Huaraz.

Every morning at breakfast the conversation is the same: “Laguna 69 is amazing, it changed my life,” says one brit, tying back her hair in a Andean-print scarf. The dreadlocked aussie across from her nods vigorously. “It’s the most beautiful thing I will ever see,” he says. As if on cue, they bring out their cameras and begin to compare photos.

It makes a girl simply not want to go.

There are cafes in Huaraz that remind me of Seattle, and bars where rumor has it one can get a real English ESB, but at times it feels so carefully tailored, an outdoor-lovers’ Disneyland. Several dozen tour agencies beckon you with identical photos from identical treks, and in the bars the tourists gush hyperbolic praise of their identical experiences.

Don’t get me wrong, this is beautiful country. But next time I would stay somewhere else. I would bring a stove and rent a tent, buy some maps and hire a guide, and find my own way through the mountains. And I would only stop in Huaraz for a cup of damn fine coffee.

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