Deep in the folds of the Andes, a string of magical lakes glimmer in the sun. These are Lagunas de las Huaringas, 14 lagoons whose waters are said to be magical, charged with positive energy and minerals. Fields of green grasses and medicinal herbs carpet the valley. One of the principal lakes is Shimbe, also known as Lago de Turquesa (Turquoise Lake), where the Huancabamba River is born. Thousands of national and international visitors come upon its shore, seeking healing by the curanderos, or shamans who perform ceremonies. Another well-known lagoon is Laguna la Negra, or Laguna del Inca. The whole area, at an altitude of 3,500-3,900 meters (11,375-12,675 ft), has been declared an ecological, cultural and tourism reserve. An almost undeveloped aspect of tourism to the lagoons is trekking. The tourism office has a hand-drawn map of the region, with distances and villages.
Legitimate transport for SalalÃ¡ and San Antonio leave from inside the bus terminal (4 a.m., 5 p.m., $3.50). From there you can trek to the lakes, or choose to do so from Huancabamba.
Many people hang outside the bus terminal arranging trips to the Lagunas. The tourism office cautions, for your own safety, to avoid them. Such offers could possibly lead to robberies. Ask the tourism office for assistance in taking legitimate transportation and a list of registered healers (if you also plan to have a ceremony done).
Remember you will be at high altitude, with a cold and humid climate. Be properly prepared against hypothermia and take precautions against sunburn. Because you will be trekking across unsigned territory with poor maps, you may want to hire a local guide; ask Huancabambaâ€™s tourism office for suggestions.
Do not pollute the waters of the Lagunas, as these are sacred places.
Relative price: Free
Travel Skills: intermediate/somewhat difficult.
You Need to Bring:
Although you may be able to find lodging with families, still be prepared to be totally self-sufficient: all-season tent, good sleeping bag, flashlight and other camping gear; waterproof boots, heavy clothing, rain gear; water, high-energy foods.
While in the Lagunas area, you could arrange to have a healing ceremony performed. Also, the Huancabamba region teems with many natural wonders in and archaeological sites.
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