Top three reasons to hike the Santa Cruz Trek in Peru
The highest tropical mountain range in the world
Hike past turquoise lakes between stupefying Andean peaks
Situated in Huascaran National Park, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve
The Santa Cruz Trek brings the magic of the Andes within arm’s reach. Nowhere else is the might of Cordillera Blanca’s 22,000-foot peaks so palpable, nor high-elevation hiking so feasible. You start in the city of Huaraz, the window to the Cordillera Blanca which boasts an elevation of 10,000 feet. Leaving civilization, you encounter 30 miles of alpine wilderness interspersed with glacier-wrapped peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and fields of wildflowers as you approach the highest point of your trip, the Punta Union Pass. Simply put, if you thought such feats are only reserved for mountaineers, this adventure will prove otherwise!
Your adventure starts in Huaraz, Peru
Book this adventure
Santa Cruz Trek Trekking Tour
Hike through the high-altitude wilderness with a local guide. Get humbled by Andean landscapes as you traverse ancient trails passing striking lakes and vast grassfields with lofty snow-covered peaks as your backdrop. Indulge in spectacular views from Punta Union Pass and lounge by the shores of Lake Jatunchocha. Spend your nights in camps along the way and get fully immersed in Peruvian nature.
Day 1: Huaraz
Arrive in Huaraz in the morning, meet the guide and get transferred to your hotel. After settling in you can tour the city on your own. Some of the highlights include the Plaza Mayor, the Archaeology Museum of Ancash, and the Temple of Señor de la Soledad. Get an idea of what old Huaraz looked like by walking the Jose Olaya street, the only street that remained intact after many earthquakes that hit the city in the past. Get a panoramic view of Huaraz at the Pinar viewpoint. In the evening, return to your hotel in Huaraz and join a pre-trek briefing to go over the details of the trek.
Day 2: Vaquiera to Paria Camp
Start the day in Huaraz and go on a 71-mile (110 km) drive to the trailhead at Vaquiera. You will drive along the Huarípampa Valley past small farms and a village with traditional Quechua homes with thatched roofs. Start a hike at Vaquiera and reach Paria (12,795 ft / 3900 m) campsite where you will stay for the night. Get some rest for the challenging day tomorrow.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Distance: 5.5 miles (9 km)
Time: 4 hours
Day 3: Punta Union Pass
Start a challenging day of trekking with a hearty breakfast. On Day 3, it’s all about pacing yourself and drinking a lot of water. After about three hours of hiking, you’ll reach the Punta Union Pass, a narrow notch between the granite mountain walls. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with views of Taulliraju peak (19,127 ft / 5830 m) and the turquoise Taullicocha lake below. Later, hike downhill to the campsite in the Taullipampa meadow (13,956 ft / 4254 m) where you will stay for the night.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Distance: 7.5 miles (12km)
Time: 7 hours
Day 4: Taullipampa to Llamacorral
Take the last look back to the stunning granite walls of Punta Union Pass and continue the hike along an area of loose sand and rock—the result of recent floods. An avalanche some years ago broke an ice dam that held back the waters of the small Laguna Arteson Bajo. The resulting flood partially wiped up the trail, which is now altered in some parts. Today’s section passes Lake Jatunchocha (12,749 ft / 3886 m). Spend a laid back afternoon lounging by its shores or even going for a swim in its cool waters. Hike some more to Llamacorral (12,335 ft / 3760 m), a grassy field surrounded by boulders where you will stay for the night.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Distance: 7.5 miles (12 km)
Time: 7 hours
Day 5: Llamacorral to Cashapampa
In the morning, the journey continues through a grassy gorge featuring waterfalls flowing on its steep walls. The path is easy to follow and will take you to the canyon with views of the farmlands in the Santa Cruz valley. The adventure finishes in the village of Cashapamapa. From the village, you will take a ride to the town of Caraz, and from there another one to your hotel in Huaraz.
You will then spend the night at your hotel in Huaraz, have breakfast at the hotel the following morning, and get transferred to your bus station for the 8-hour ride back to Lima. See you again!
Meals: Breakfast and lunch
Distance: 6 miles (10 km)
Time: 5 hours
Meet your guide
Unu Raymi Expeditions
Thanks for an amazing time! The tour was well organized. The company was very flexible when I had to move the date of the trip. The guide was very knowledgeable and experienced. Thanks!
The team at Unu Raymi were fantastic to work with – We will definitely work with them again on future adventures to South America! Thanks James and everyone on your team for all that you did to ensure we had an amazing time in Peru! Patagonia is next!!
Hands down UNU Raymi Expeditions was the best of the best. They hand crafted this adventure and the Guides and Transports shared all the knowledge and wisdom with us. We couldn’t be more happy with James and his team.
Get complete checklist for hiking and camping equipment.
Things to know
Covid measures in Peru
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures on Santa Cruz Trek in Peru, please refer to the official Peru Travel website.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!
What you get on this adventure:
- A local bilingual trekking guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- Four days of trekking
- Four breakfasts, five lunches, and four dinners
- All camping equipment
- Muleteer and mules
- Certificated high-mountain cook
- Private transport — collection and drop-off
If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know prior to booking to make arrangements.
What’s not included:
- International airfare
- Hotel accommodations before and after the trip
- Domestic flights
- Entrance fee to the Huascaran National Park (around $40 per person)
- Emergency mule — optional
- Medical evacuation insurance — optional, but highly recommended
If you need assistance organizing your pre-and post-trip accommodations or domestic flights, contact us and we’ll help make the arrangements.
How fit do I need to be?
The Santa Cruz Trek tour is moderately difficult, but it all depends on your hiking experience and fitness level. You need to be able to hike for full days, carrying a daypack and walking through different terrains. You’re going to be hiking five to six hours per day. While the terrain is manageable, the big build-up to crossing the Punta Union pass can get strenuous. This is why you should spend time acclimatizing before your trek.
If you want to make sure you’re ready to trek the Santa Cruz, practice hiking on long distances while carrying a full daypack. That said, if you are looking for adventure and up to the task of full-day trekking, you’ll be rewarded immensely!
What do I need to bring?
Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:
- Day pack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 40L bag)
- Hiking boots
- Comfortable shoes for camp
- Trekking socks (synthetic fibers)
- Microfiber shirts and thermal
- Fleece jacket
- Trekking pants
- Waterproof jacket and pant (Gore-Tex or other)
- Sun hat
- Hat for cold weather (fleece)
- Headlamp (with extra batteries and bulbs)
- Washbag and towel
- Trekking poles (can be rented from the guides)
- Water bottle or hydration bladder (2L capacity)
- Sleeping bag (can be rented from the guide)
- Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
- Battery charger (there is no place to plug in while trekking)
- Camera—optional (but recommended)
Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.
Group sizes and age requirements
Group sizes and prices:
- For this adventure, the max client-to-guide ratio is 5:1. All prices are per person.
- It takes a minimum of 2 people for the group tour to operate.
- The maximum number of guests for this tour is 15.
If your hiking party is larger than 15 people, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Min. age requirements:
- Anyone over the age of 18 can join these Peru trekking tours.
- Minors under the age of 18 may be allowed to join a hike on a case-by-case basis.
If you plan to hike with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Deposits and cancellation policy
A 50% deposit to secure your place upon booking. The remaining amount is paid 2 months (60 days) prior to departure or once your guide confirms the trip. For bookings within 5 weeks of the departure, full payment is required. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.
- If Client cancels the Booking seventy (70) or more days prior to the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is obliged to pay the trip cancellation fee of $50.
- If Client cancels the Booking sixty-nine (69) days to fifty (50) prior to the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a 70% refund of the full ticket price.
- For cancellations forty-nine (49) to thirty-one (31) days in advance, Client is entitled to a 50% refund of the full ticket price.
- For cancellations thirty (30) to eight (8) days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of forty percent (40%) of the full ticket price.
- After that deadline ( seven days or less prior to departure), Client is not entitled to any refund.
Getting there and meeting location
To get to the Santa Cruz Trek, Peru, most people fly into the Lima International Airport, 6.5 hours away from Huaraz—the starting point of the adventure. Once in Lima, you can take a bus ride or board a flight to get to Huaraz. You will meet with your guide upon your arrival in Huaraz.