Guñoc, a place to rest the soul
A magical place among the Peruvian Andes.
We don't always have the time to make distant trips of 3 or 4 days, sometimes we have free weekends while in Lima (capital of Peru) and we want to get out of the routine by going on an adventure.
And what an adventure we decided to take. Today we have a trip of 2 days and one night, in a camp touching the Peruvian snow-capped mountains. A special and very challenging trip to the Andes mountain range belonging to Lima, just 8 hours by car, in search of a jewel not well known by many. Our destination: the thermal baths of Guñoc.
The Guñoc thermal baths belonging to the community of Uramaza, are located at 4350 meters above sea level, a height that for those who are not used to it can be an experience that leaves you breathless added to the 2 or 3 ° C, we must be prepared for a high mountain trek.
Prepare well! Remember that we will camp and at dawn it can reach -1 or -2 °C.
For this trip we will need thermal clothing or mountain clothing, we recommend the 3 classic layers so that we do not feel cold while we walk. To be calm we wear our sweaters, chullo and baby alpaca gloves as a second layer to be calm, without cold and light. Tip: always cover your head from the cold, the headache caused by lack of oxygen can be aggravated by the cold. Keep your head warm!
In addition, we will wear trekking shoes, preferably waterproof. A camping backpack with our swimwear and a towel (I know you'd hesitate to use them while you're there, but when you enter the waters everything will make sense), a change of clothes, light food, especially fruit. A common mistake is to eat something heavy at 4400, altitude and high fat food are a combination that can ruin your whole experience.
We take some pills for altitude sickness and coca tea so that the altitude shocks us less. A small camping kitchen, a light pot, flashlight, a small inflatable mattress, our tent and sleeping bag for winter, a garbage bag, a knife, water and in our case a portable battery to always have full cell phones so as not to get lost. no problem.
We start at 3 a.m. on a Saturday, leaving by car from San Borja towards the north of Lima. We take the Panamericana Norte until we reach the Huaral highway exit, we begin to climb this route for almost 4 hours until we reach the town of Cajatambo (3300 masl). Not without first making a stop along the way to have breakfast before starting the climb to the mountain range.
Once in Cajatambo we enjoy a simple lunch based on trout. We took some cheese and avocado for the night, we were not going to miss the opportunity to try the Cajatambo cheese, this area is famous for its dairy products. And we begin the last ascent to the Huayhuash mountain range, which will take us 2 hours.
Arriving at the end of the road, we begin our journey. When we left we felt the icy wind of the mountain range, the 2 ° C hit us during the face, but we soon forget everything when we see the mountains that surround us next to the blue sky that touched us this day.
We started our way for 1 hour to the camp, with small climbs and some small streams to avoid, we began to see what would be our long-awaited goal. A small fountain of steaming water tells us that we are close to our goal. Soon we see the thermal baths of Guñoc and the camp where we will spend the night.
We pitch our tent with the breath we have left, drop all of our stuff, and hurry to dip our feet in the hot springs and relax a bit from the hike. Remember to go with a guide or someone experienced, it is necessary to pay S/ 10.00 to be able to enter the camping area and have the right to use the hot springs (and yes! You can use them at any time during the two days, even at night). is for the moment), follow all the recommendations of your guide and the rules of the community.
We enjoy a hot coca tea while sitting on the edge of one of the thermal water pools, while we contemplate the beautiful landscape that the Andean night leaves us.
3 community members from Uramaza approach us and tell us the story of how these thermal baths were created. About 6 years ago, the community found several springs from which the hot water of the hot springs gushed. They decided, initially, to build a small well that could collect the water so that the community could enjoy it, without knowing that hikers would soon arrive from the famous high mountain hiking route of the Huayhuash mountain range, thus becoming a mandatory stop. for all travelers who want to rest and regain strength to continue their journey.
Apparently the hot springs spring naturally from a small hill behind the pools, and apparently there are many natural sources that are not yet being tapped. The community members excitedly explain to us that at some point they will build more thermal baths and that they hope that many more travelers will come, always hoping that they can enjoy an unprecedented adventure.
The comfort of hot water and the much-desired rest gradually reduce our desire to stay awake. We almost ran out of the water and into our tents, almost at the speed of light. The temperature is not a joke, our thermometer tells us that it is 0°C and the clouds tell us that it will rain soon. Small drops begin to fall on the tent and the complete silence of the night, are the perfect combination to rest from the busy life of the city.
The next day we wake up very early in the morning, ready for the next adventure that lies ahead. I know we said that the goal was the hot springs, but we didn't say when 😊. We still have to earn it.
6 am. We start with a light breakfast full of fruits, and together with our guide we begin the climb, first to some small waterfalls and then to the impressive Viconga lagoon, almost touching 5,000 meters above sea level (4,700 meters above sea level).
From there we see the snow-capped mountains of Millpu and Pumarinri, imposing, totally white. The Viconga lagoon is born from the melting of the snowy Millpu, with icy and crystalline waters, they are a beautiful reward for the 1.5km walk we did. With the breath stolen by the same "apus" and the height, we begin our journey back to the camp. With the satisfaction of having taken some beautiful photos, we can finally enjoy the thermal baths in their maximum splendor.
First we entered the 35-38°C pool to acclimatize. We take a brief break in the cold wind to feel that need for warmth and rush into the pool of 40-42 °C, feeling how all our energies come back to us and the cold moves away from our body. The third pool is only for those who resist hot baths well, it is almost 45 ° C and is excellent for curing body ailments.
We enjoy a cold drink and are thankful for having come to this beautiful place hidden among the mountains.
Time is short and even more so when you enjoy it, the trip has come to an end and we only have to collect our things, walk again that time that takes our breath away to the car and return to the city with the memory of a magical moment. between mountains, blue skies, lagoons and dreamy waters.
Until another adventure!
PS: if you still haven't convinced yourself, watch this video!