|The Santa Cruz
One of the most popular and beautiful treks in the Cordilleras, is the Santa Cruz trek through the Santa Cruz Valley north of Huaraz. It moves between numerous snow capped mountains with incredible views. It can get kind of crowded in high season, but there is room for a lot of people on the trek. It’s also a perfect way to acclimatize before doing anything higher in the area, as it moves between 3.400 and 4.800m. The path is well trodden and in the dry season you can do it with light-weight trekking shoes. Most of the trekking companies in Huaraz, as well as Hotel Santa Cruz, can arrange the whole trek, including equipment, food, a cook, mules for transportation,…
A typical itinerary will be:
Day 1: Huaraz – Vaqueria (3.440m) – Paria (4.000m)
Take an early bus from Huaraz, it typically leaves at around 7am, to Vaqueria, a small village and the starting point for the trek if you are going from west to east. If you are travelling on an arranged trek, you will be met by a mule or horse, that will carry the luggage the next four days, and its owner, and in addition a cook if that’s a part of the deal. You then leave on a clear path leading up in the valley and are passing several small villages. You then turn right and head up towards Punta Union. Soon you’ll see the first snow capped mountains, and the first night is spent on a beautiful camp called Paria at the foot of several mountains.
Day 2: Paria – Taullipampa (4.200m)
This is the hardest day of the trek, as you will pass the highest point, Punta Union more than 4.700 m above the sea. You will probably use 2-3 hours to get there, and on the top you will have a beautiful views into the Santa Cruz valley with high mountains, glaciers and green lakes. This night is spent at the foot of the pass (Taullipampa) on 4.200 m.
Day 3: Taullipampa – Llamacorral (3.800m)
The next day the valley slowly leads downwards and soon you the world’s most beautiful mountain, Alpamayo, will get into sight. Further down you are passing two larger lakes (Jatuncocha og IchicCocha), before reaching the last camp (Llamacorral) at 3.800 m.
Day 4: Llamacorral (3.800m) – Huaraz
The last day of the trek will bring you to Cashapampa after 3-4 hours trekking, where you can get a bus or taxi back to Huaraz. A nice stop on the way is Monterrey where you can enjoy a well deserved bath in the hot springs.
If you are in good shape, there is no problem doing the trek in three days. Remember to carry water cleaning tablets or equipment, as you will have to clean the water. And, remember not to start the trek directly after arriving from Lima or any other place where you’re not acclimatized for these heights….