Timing: 3 days
Duration: 4-5 days & 3-4 nights
Difficulty: Medium (i.e. Moderately physically demanding, but doable for beginners in reasonable physical condition.)
The most frequented trek in the Cordillera Blanca Mountain Range, the Santa Cruz Trail is a great option for trekkers of all experience levels and perfect for those looking to make the most of a short trip to Huaraz. This quintessential Cordillera Blanca trek provides endless opportunities for up-close views of some of the most spectacular glaciated peaks the range has to offer. The path winds through remote high-altitude valleys full of vibrant Andean flora and fauna, pristine glacial lakes and rural highland villages. The Santa Cruz Trek is also an excellent option for climbers looking for a solid acclimatization activity, as you will spend several nights above 4,000 masl and reach a maximum altitude of 4,750 masl as you make the pass at Punta Union.
Day 1: Your group departs from Huaraz and drives 3 hours to the rural community of Cashapampa (2,800 masl) where our team of donkey drivers will be waiting to assist us with our gear and supplies. We begin the trek hiking along the Santa Cruz River as we steadily ascend into the valley through a narrow canyon. As we continue hiking the canyon gives way to open pasture-lands along the valley floor where we will catch our first views of the towering snow-capped peaks that will accompany us throughout the rest of our journey. We will make camp in an open field near the river at Llamacorral (3,750 masl) Total hike time: ~ 5 hours.
Day 2: Today we’ll enjoy an easy-going, flatter section of the trail. During our hike we’ll pass by two glacial lakes, Hatuncocha and Ichiccocha, before catching our first glimpses of Alpamayo, known as the most beautiful mountain in the world. We’ll make camp at Taullipampa, a flat open area near the base of the Punta Union Pass. Total hike time: ~ 4 hours.
Optional Extra Day: Interested in exploring the surrounding mountains? Opt to stay an additional day at the Taullipampa Campsite where options for day excursions include a hike to the Alpamayo Basecamp and Lake Arhuaycocha or a climb up the shorter Centillo Peak (5,000 masl). Alternatively, kick back and relax enjoying a rest day at camp.
Day 3 (or 4): Make sure to eat plenty at breakfast because today we will climb to the highest point of the trail as we cross Punta Union Pass (4,750 masl). We will make a steady ascent for ~ 3 hours, breaking for a high-altitude lunch once our group has reached the pass. We will then descend into the Huaripampa Valley until reaching our campsite at Paria (3,850 masl) Total hike time: ~ 7 hours
Day 4 (or 5): Our final day on the trail, enjoy an easy-going hike as we steadily descend through the Huaripampa Valley, passing through rural villages where we’ll meet locals carrying out their daily farming activities. We will end with a short ascent to the town of Vaqueria where private transport will be waiting to take us over the Portachuelo Pass (4,767 masl) and into the Llanganuco Valley, known for its stunning glacial lakes. We’ll then make our way back to Hauraz. Total hike time: ~ 5 hours
For more information on dates and prices, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org If you would prefer to arrange a private trek, please send us an e-mail with the approximate dates you would like to be on the trail and the number of people in your group. Travelling alone? No problem! You may also opt to join another group that we’re leading.