Santa Cruz Classic Trek

PER-07b / 6-day trip / Grade: T2

Santa Cruz Classic Trek

The Santa Cruz trek is no doubt is one of the most popular trekking routes in the Cordillera Blanca. This 4-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 its highest point: 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 end at the settlement of Vaqueria.
To finish, an unforgettable road trip by the Llanganuco valley, which houses another group of well-know summits like: Chopicalqui, Pisco, Chacraraju, Huandoys and Huascarans, the hisghest mountain in Peru.

Day 1 Arrival in Huaraz, Peru (3005 m)
Day 2 Churup lake (4445 m)
Day 3 Llamacorral (3760 m)
Day 4 Taullipampa campsite (4148 m)
Day 5 Punta Union mountain pass (4768 m)
Day 6 Vaqueria & back to Huaraz
Day 1

Arrival in Huaraz, Peru (3005 m)
Arrival in Huaraz and meeting with the mountain guide in the afternoon to do a gear check and talk about the trip’s itinerary.
Night in hostel.

Day 2

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 3

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 4

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 5

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 6

Vaqueria & back to Huaraz
After a good sleep at a lower altitude and having a nice breakfast in the morning, the team will start the last hiking day heading down the valley following a very pleasant trail over meadows down to the first peasant 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), from this point an approximate 251 meters ascent to the pick up spot known as Vaqueria (3649 m), where the transport awaits to take the group back to Huaraz. The road trip back is not just any trip, first the car will drive up to the Potechela pass (4590 m) from where there is one of the best viewpoint of the entire Cordillera Blanca, standing right at the top of Yanganuco valley having a panoramic view to Chopicalqui (6354 m), Huascarans North and South (6768 m), the Huandoys (6360 m), Pisco (5752 m), Chacraraju (6108 m) and other famous summits. Once at the bottom of the valley, the vehicle will drive by the Orconcha (Male lake) and Chinanconcha (female lake), deep green lakes before dropping down into a narrow gorge that leads to Cajon Del Huaylas and then south to Huaraz. This trip will take about 4 hours.
Night in hostel.
Descend: 302 m / Ascent: 251 m / Highest Altitude: 3700 m / Activity duration: 3-4 h / Distance: 10,2 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic

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  • Program in shared international group
  • Local English/Spanish speaking professional Trekking guide
  • Entrance fees to Huascaran National Park and local community fees
  • Private transportation in the mountain area
  • 2 nights in shared doble room in hostel in Huaraz
  • Quality mountain tents – 2 pax per tent
  • 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
  • Transportation from to Huaraz
  • Transfers in and out to/from hotel in Huaraz
  • Personal camping equipment
  • Insurance
  • Tips
  • Everything not mentioned in the “Included” list

HUARAZHostel La Casa de Zarela or simila



Santa Cruz Trek:

Tags: Trekking, Cordillera Blanca, Alpamayo, Santa Cruz, T2, LLanganuco, Vaqueria, Santa Cruz trek, Cashapampa, Punta union, Artesonraju