Santa Cruz Trek with Ulta Valley

PER-04 / 11-day trip / Grade: T3

Santa Cruz Trek with Ulta Valley

The Santa Cruz trek is no doubt is one of the most popular trekking routes in the Cordillera Blanca. This 11-day trek follows La Quebrada Santa Cruz (Quebrada means, river valley) into a world of high summits, where some of the most famous peaks are to be found: Alpamayo, Artesonraju, Quitaraju and Taulliraju, just to name a few. The itinerary ascents from the settlement of Cashapampa (2930 m), passing many colorful lakes, high waterfalls and hanging glaciers, up to the second highest point on the trek: Punta Union mountain pass (4768 m). This pass is an incredible spot between two valleys, with a breathtaking view! From this point the trail drops into the Yurma River valley (3398 m), to re ascent to the highest pass: Paso Yanayacu (4850 m), descending by the seldom visited Ulta Valley and its spectacular summits: Ulta, Cortahierbas and Chopicalqui.

This is a great trek for those who want a mixture of the best and popular section Santa Cruz and then a off-the-beatten-track to end with.

Day 1 Arrival in Lima, Peru
Day 2 Lima – Huaraz (3005 m)
Day 3 Puka Ventana (3500 m)
Day 4 Churup lake (4485 m)
Day 5 Llamacorral (3760 m)
Day 6 Taullipampa campsite (4148 m)
Day 7 Punta Union mountain pass (4768 m)
Day 8 Molina Pampa (3600 m)
Day 9 Avalancha Campsite (4200 m)
Day 10 End of trek – Huaraz
Day 11 Huaraz – Lima & departure
Day 1

Arrival in Lima, Peru
Pick up at airport and transfer-in to hotel in Lima.
Night in hotel.

Day 2

Lima – Huaraz (3005 m)
After breakfast, transfer to bus terminal for tourist public bus to Huaraz. The bus ride takes about 8 hours, depending on the traffic leaving Lima. The road trip goes along the pacific coast, heading north and then eastwards up the Andes. The first sight will be the Huayhash Range, before heading back north where the first summits of the Cordillera Blanca will appear. The road starts to descend towards the city of San Sebastian de Huaraz, locally known just as Huaraz. Huaraz is the capital of the Anchash region and is located in the spectacular Cajon del Huaylas valley, between the Cordillera Negra on the West side and the Cordillera Blanca on the East side, with the highest mountain in the country in the background: Huascaran (6768 m).
Huaraz is the main departing point for mountain activities, both to the Cordillera Blanca and Huashuash range; therefore it is considered the Peruvian “Chamonix”. The city has a wide offer of services as: restaurants, accommodations, grocery stores, gear shops and guide services.
Upon arrival in Huaraz, transfer to the hostel.
Night in hostel.
Included meals: Breakfast

Day 3

Puka Ventana (3500 m)
Morning meeting with the trekking guide for instructions and detailed information on the mountain activities. After the logistical arrangements, headout for the acclimatization hike to Puka Ventana (3500 m) “Red Window” in Huaraz outskirts from where you will get astounding views of the entire Cordillera Blanca from north to south.
Ascent: 500 m / Descent: 500 m / Highest Altitude: 3500 m / Activity duration: 3-4 h
Included meals: Breakfast, picnic

Day 4

Churup lake (4445 m)
This day hike is one of the classic acclimatization itineraries in the Cordillera Blanca. The Churup peak is located close to Huaraz and can be seen from town. It is ideal to gain a good amount of altitude in a day and return back to Huaraz to sleep low. From Huaraz transfer (1:30 h) to Pitec’s trailhead (3660 m), from this place a very well maintained handmade trail begins its ascent following a ridge that gains altitude quite fast. Soon the handmade trail turns into a mountain trail, as it takes the northern side of the Churup River valley. The ascent gets steeper from this point and a bit demanding. Once on a wide plateau, a well deserved rest, before climbing up the last section where a bit of very easy scrambling secured by a good set of wires lead to a easy last section ending by the shores of the lake at 4445 m. The rocky lake’s shores are a great spot to have a bite while enjoying the amazing sight to the Churup peak. For those who want to challenge themself, it is possible to hike further up 45 minutes to the Churupita lake, right on the moraine (please check this possibility with your guide, as sometimes it is not accesible). The descent follows the same trail and takes an average time of 1,5 h. The transport back to Huaraz.
Night in hostel.
Ascent: 605 m / Descent: 605 m / Highest Altitude: 4445 m / Activity duration: 5-6 h / Distance one-way: 3,1 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic

Day 5

Llamacorral (3760 m)
Hotel pick-up in Huaraz and 3 hours drive to the head of trail. After leaving Huaraz, the vehicle will drive down the Cajon de Huaylas where there are some of the best views over the Huacaran and Huandoy’s masiffs. The road passes the towns of Yungay and Caraz, after the last one, leaving the tarmac road for a dirt mountain road that swings its way by the Cordillera’s mountain sides. The landscapes are just great and the panoramic view to the pyramid of the Santa Cruz peak (6250 m). After about 1 hour, the settlement of Cashapampa (2930 m) will appear. This is the entrance to the Huascaran National park and the beginning of the trek. After the bureaucratic formalities, the team will take a well marked trail that ascents by a gorge flanked by rock walls carved by the beautiful Santa Cruz River, the same that will accompany most of the day’s hike. The first two hours or so, it’s quite hot and a relative steep, until the gorge opens up to a wider valley and the slope eases out. Around this area the guide will find a nice lunch spot for a break. Then the ascent is much more gentle but still quite some distance to cover until the camp. The camp called Llamacorral (3760 m) is located on the river banks of Santa Cruz River with a panoramic view to the Taulliraju peak, a quite spectacular summit at the end of the valley.
Night in tents.
Ascent: 830 m / Highest Altitude: 3760 m / Activity duration: 5-6 h / Distance: 12 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 6

Taullipampa campsite (4148 m)
Early start from Llamacorral campsite, heading up the Santa Cruz River valley. After a short while the trail will pass over the remains of an old lake swept away by a landslide. From this point the valley widens even more and after an gentle slope the Quitacocha lake appears with its deep green color. It’s main source is the Quitaraju peak which elevates to 6100 meters. At the end of the lake an almost dry river bed will lead up to a rustic bridge where the trail changes sides to the northern margin. This is usually the lunch spot and the first glimpse to the famous Artensonraju peak 6025 meters. This mountain is an almost perfect pyramid and the locals say this is the summit that inspired the Paramount studios’ logo… something debatable. From the lunch place there is a trail that goes straight to the next campsite, but we advise to hike up to “El mirador” (4175 m) a view point located 150 meters after a relative steep ascent, but worth every step! From the “mirador” it is the best place to see the mighty Alpamayo peak, crowned as one of he most beautiful mountains in the world, and also the neighboring summits of Quitaraju. On the other side of the valley one of the best panoramic views to Artosanraju, Paron and Caraz peaks, as they raise from the valley. After a good time to enjoy such a landscape, there is a high trail that traverses eastwards to Taullipampa campsite. This is the highest camp on the trek (4148 m), located on a green plateau at the foot of Taulliraju mountain and Punta Union pass.
Night in tents.
Ascent: 388 m / Descend: 27 m / Highest Altitude: 4175 m / Activity duration: 5-6 h / Distance: 15,1 Km.

Option: For those who feel well and have enough energy, it is possible to extend the day’s march a bit, hiking from “El Mirador” up to Arhuaycocha lake (4428 m) at the foot of Alpamayo’s glacier, surrounded by other impressive summits. On the way to the lake, there is the Alpamayo’s base camp, where it is possible to see some of the expeditions attempting the climb. The panorama from the lake is worth the extra effort, but it is important to have the time and stamina to make in good time to the camp. This extra hike is approximately 6 km and 2 hours more to an already long day.
Ascent: 669 m / Descend: 281 m / Highest Altitude: 4429 m / Activity duration: 7-8 h / Distance: 21,1 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 7

Punta Union mountain pass (4768 m)
Early start from Taullipampa campsite taking a trail that head up to the highest point on the trek: Punta Union mountain pass at 4768 m. The ascent is progressive and have a couple of steep sections. The view during the hike is worth all the effort! The terrain changes from the high grass to moraine and rock slopes, as it gets closer to the pass. The turquoise Taullicocha lake can be seen down at the base of the mountain that bears the same name. The pass is literally a “gate” into another Valley with a whole different atmosphere and some of the most iconic summits in the horizon: Chopicalqui, Huascaran South, Copa, between so many others. From this alpine spot, the descent is quite gentle and the vegetation will start changing from rocks into bushes and then into Quitua trees. After about 2,5 h Paria camp (3850 m) will be reached and 30 minutes later Quitua Campsite (3700 m), the last camp of this amazing trek.
Night in tents.
Ascent: 620 m / Descend: 1068 m / Highest Altitude: 4768 m / Activity duration: 6-7 h / Distance: 12,2 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 8

Molina Pampa (3600 m)
After a good sleep at a lower altitude and having a nice breakfast in the morning, the team will start hiking down the valley following a very pleasant trail over meadows till the first peasant’s settlements. While passing the houses, it is possible to see the local’s daily life, while descending to the lowest place on the hike at the crossing of Yurma River (3398 m), will cut southeast on the trail at Colcabamba. Enter the Ulta valley and campsite in Molina Pampa (3600 m) before ascending to the second pass.
Descent: 250 m / Highest Altitude: 4200 m / Activity duration: 4-5 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 9

Avalancha Campsite (4200 m)
Early morning start to ascend the trek’s second pass called Paso Yanayacu (4850 m), then descend down into the Ulta Valley to the last campsite known as Avalancha (4200 m).
Ascent: 1250 / Descent: 600 m / Highest Altitude: 4850 m / Activity duration: 5-6 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 10

End of trek – Back to Huaraz
Easy-going morning at campsite and then short trek to meet the transport and the end of the trail (3900 m). Transfer back to Huaraz (1.5 h).
Descent: 300 m / Highest Altitude: 4200 m / Activity duration: 3 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Celebration Dinner

Day 11

Huaraz – Lima & departure
Transfer-out to Huaraz’s bus terminal for a tourist public bus to Lima (8 h). Upon arrival in Lima, there will be a transfer to the international airport (30 min) for the international flight departure.
End of services.
Included meals: Breakfast

PER-04 – To request prices, please click on the BOOK TRIP bottom on the right sidebar and fill the information.


  • Local English speaking professional Trekking guide from Day 3 to 10
  • Entrance fees to Huascaran National Park and local community fees
  • Private transfer: airport – hotel – bus terminal – hotel in Huaraz – bus terminal – airport in Lima
  • Transfer in first class public bus from Lima to Huaraz and back
  • Private transportation in the mountain area
  • 1 night in shared double rooms in Lima
  • 3 nights in shared double rooms in Huaraz
  • Quality mountain tents – 2 pax per tent – from Day 4 to 9
  • Group common campsite equipment
  • Pack animals for group campsite equipment, food and pax personal gear
  • Cook during the trek
  • Dining and toilet tents
  • Complete mountain First Aid kit and oxygen for emergency purposes
  • Meals as specified in the day to day itinerary


  • Domestic and international flights
  • Separate airport transfers in case of multiple arrival/departures
  • Personal camping equipment
  • Insurance
  • Tips
  • Everything not mentioned in the “Included” list

LIMAHotel Señorial or similar

HUARAZHostel La Casa de Zarela or similar



Cordillera Blanca:

Santa Cruz Trek:

Tags: Trekking, Cordillera Blanca, Alpamayo, Santa Cruz, T3, Huaraz, Vaqueria, Cashapampa, Punta union, Artesonraju, Taulliraju, Ulta Valley, Ulta, Yanayacu, Fxed, Confirmed