The Santa Cruz trek is nestled in the white-peaked Cordillera Blanca range in the Andes. This mountain range has one of the biggest concentration of high peaks in the Western hemisphere, with 33 summits topping 5,400 masl or more. The Santa Cruz trek is the most popular way to experience this region and the beauty of its mountains and landscapes. Despite its beauty, this hiking route is not as known as other routes in Peru, especially the ones around Machu Picchu, so this means that it has a fraction of the visitors, offering relative solitude for such a stunning place! The trail is around 50 km in total and can be done in either 3 or 4 days. This itinerary suggests the latter option to give you the chance to do it at a more relaxed pace.
You will spend the first and last night in the Andean town of Huaraz and the 3 overnights during the hike will be spent at several campsites along the route. It is a quite high altitude trek and quite challenging but you will be rewarded with stunning landscapes and unforgettable encounters with friendly Andeans living in these remote parts of Peru. If you want to experience an off the beaten track route considered one of the most beautiful in the world and in many ways a more rewarding than the most popular ones the country has to offer, the Santa Cruz trek is the perfect choice!
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements, please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
When you arrive at Lima airport, you’ll be met and driven to the bus station where a guide will help you check in for the bus service from Lima to Huaraz. The overnight journey takes around 8 hours, so we’ve included a 180-degree recliner seat, so you can get a good night’s sleep.
You’ll arrive in Huaraz around 6 am and you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll have the rest of today to rest and to acclimatise to the higher altitude as you prepare for the trek ahead.
After breakfast, your trekking guide will pick you up and drive you to the starting point for the Santa Cruz trek.
When you begin the trek, you’ll walk through the Callejón de Huaylas Valley, between the majestic Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra mountain ranges. You’ll walk through forests of silk-paper-barked Queñua and Quishuar trees, pass granite boulders and cliffs that are covered in bromeliads, orchids and cactus plants.
Your ascent will continue up to Portachuelo de Llanganuco where you’ll have spectacular views of the iced amphitheatre which is encircled by some of the Andes’ highest peaks, reaching well above 6,000m. As you descend to Vaqueria, you’ll be hiking along the Huaripampa Gorge, crossing local villages, swampy meadows, passing small forests and enjoying views of the Andes above and lakes. Tonight you’ll camp at 3,780m and both lunch and dinner will be provided.
Today is the toughest section of the Santa Cruz trek but certainly the most rewarding. Your day will be packed with pleasant surprises and gorgeous views as you walk through grassy areas and along the Morococha lakes. You’ll climb the pre-Incan stone-carved steps to arrive at Punta Unión Pass, the highest point of the trek at 4,760m. The panoramic view here is dominated by the impressive ice walls of Taulliraju above Taullicocha Lake.
Tonight you’ll camp in Taullipampa where from a height of 4,250m, you’ll have incredible views of the landscape and for the sunset. (All your meals will be provided today).
Today’s hike is along the stunning Santa Cruz gorge where you’ll witness several different ecosystems. The icy peaks of the mountains above will be visible throughout the trek, particularly the rocky, icy, fluted south face of Alpamayo Peak in all its rugged grandeur. Gradually descend towards the Llama Corral where you will camp for the night. (All your meals will be provided today).
For the final day of your trek, you’ll continue your descent. Once the rocky silhouette of the Cordillera Negra is on the horizon, you will reach Cashapampa village and the end of the Santa Cruz trek and congratulations are in order!
From here, you’ll be driven back to Huaraz where you can enjoy a pisco and celebrate the great achievement of completing this challenging but unforgettable trek.
Breakfast and lunch are included today and the evening is free for you to relax and enjoy a well-earned rest.
After breakfast today, you’ll be driven to the bus station to catch the bus from Huaraz to Lima. When you arrive in the capital, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel or the airport - depending on your next destination.
You can trek in this region year round, however, the best time is between May and September when the weather is generally good and the mountains are clear.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.
Two nights in 3* standard accommodation.
Hotels in this category include: