Santa Cruz Trek, Northern Peru

by on 2nd March, 2018

Celebrating at Punta Union pass, Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

Looking for something different from your trekking trip to Peru?

Read all about Santa Cruz, one of Huaraz’s best kept trekking secrets, with Andean Trails’ Tom’s personal account:


He writes:

“Huaraz in north Peru is a trekking and climbing dream, with its multitude of remote trails, ice-clad peaks and famous hikes like the Huayhuash and Alpamayo.

The Santa Cruz trek – which can be completed in 4 days, or 6 if you add the Ulta Valley – rates as high up as any, for me.

No other short trek – be it Inca Trail, Salkantay or Lares  gets you as close to as many beautiful, ice-covered mountain giants as Santa Cruz.

I couldn’t believe the number of glaciated faces kept us company on the trails, of strident shape and form.

Don’t be fooled that this is an easy trek – trekking days are long (5-7 hours daily) –paths are undulating at times and you have to camp, something that not everyone finds easy.

But there are also beautiful vistas over gorgeous turquoise lakes plus a challenging high pass of 4,760m/15,617ft.

There are no Inca ruins to see, but there are far fewer people and the chance to reconnect with nature in one of Peru’s most special mountainous regions.

What more could you want?


Santa Cruz trek reviews

Don’t just take Tom’s word for it – USA’s Katie Kemmerer hiked Santa Cruz with us last year.

She said: ”Best hikes for me were Churup and Arhuaycocha – couldn’t get over the turquoise color of the water!

“Our guide was amazing – very knowledgeable, friendly, and good at accommodating the different skill levels and interests of the group.

“Food was great – very impressed with what they can put together in the middle of the mountains!”

Santa Cruz trek camp Peru

Tent with a view, Santa Cruz trek, Peru.

When to go

The best trekking season is May to September – winter – when skies are generally clear during the day, with crisp, cold evenings. Views are spectacular.

May and September themselves are quieter on the trails with July and August being the busiest time for tourism throughout Peru.

April and October are possible, too, albeit you are more likely to get some afternoon clouds and rains.

It’s best to hike with a guide as weather can change quickly, plus they know the best routes/camps and can help to bring the valleys alive with their tales and knowledge of the area.


The itinerary

This is an outline of our full, 6-day itinerary:


Day 1              Transfer Huaraz to Cashapampa (2,900m), gradual ascent of Santa Cruz Valley, camp

Day 2              Trek towards Punta Union Pass, camp

Day 3              Over the pass (4,750m), descend to camp (4,200m)

Day 4              Descend to Vaqueria, southeast on the trail at Colcabamba. Enter Ulta valley, camp

Day 5              Hike up and over pass (4,850m), descend to camp

Day 6              Hike out to meet your transport at the road, transfer to Huaraz,

Santa Cruz trek start Huaraz Peru

Starting off on the Santa Cruz Trek, Peru.

Acclimatising to high altitude

We recommend 3-4 nights in Huaraz immediately before the trek.

From Huaraz itself one is awestruck by the breathtaking vista of Mounts Vallunaraju (5,686m/18,655ft), Tocllaraju (6,034m/19,797ft) and Ranrapalca (6,162m/20,217ft) towering over the city and, to the north, the gigantic forms of Huascarán (6,768m/22,205ft) and Huandoy (6,395m/20,981ft).

A day hike in the Cordillera Negra is a good way to warm up, the trek offering views over to the Cordillera in which you will trek later.

Laguna Churup is a fairly strenuous d hike takes you up to 4,500m/14,764ft, lofty indeed, and perfect for getting lungs and limbs tuned.


Setting it up

We are specialists in treks and have worked with the best local guides in the area for several years now – contact us for more and get your trek set up today!


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