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Cordillera Blanca - Santa Cruz Trek

Highlights

  • Guides Choice trip in North Central Peru
  • World's 2nd highest mountain range!
  • One of Nat Geo's "World's Best Hikes"
  • Comfortable camps and delicious Peruvian cuisine
  • High Andes lakes, rivers, glaciers, & peaks
  • Top elevation of over 15,000 feet
  • Unbelievable mountain scenery
  • Several days of acclimatization hiking

Description

Rated as one of the "World’s Best Hikes" by National Geographic, the Santa Cruz Trek in the Cordillera Blanca is one not to be missed! The spectacular mountain views, glacial lakes and challenging trekking make this a truly unforgettable hiking experience. Our journey begins in the quaint mountain city of Huaraz, Peru where we have two days to acclimatize. We'll venture out on amazing day hikes to lake Wilcacocha and lake Churup. Subsequently, we drive to the village of Cashapampa where we emark on the amazing Santa Cruz Trek. Highlights include views of majestic, towering Andes mountains such as Artesonraju (the Paramount Pictures Mountain!), Alpamayo, Huascaran and Chopicalqui. Additionally, crossing Point Union Pass at 15,583 feet and visiting Lake Arhuaycocha are nothing short of spectacular! We will end our trek at the village of Vaqueria, where we will meet our driver and head back to Huaraz for a celebratory dinner.
Join us for a journey into the second highest mountain range in the world - the stunning Cordillera Blanca! Give us a call at 888-966-TREK (8735) to learn more or book your spot today.
Click here to have a detailed PDF information packet emailed to you, or request a reservation today. You can also call us at 888-966-TREK.

 

Photos of this Trip

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

On this Peru trekking trip, a Wildland Trekking representative will pick you up from Comandante FAP Germán Arias Graziani Airport (Airport code ATA), in the village of Anta, Peru, or from the bus station in Huaraz, Peru. We transport to our hotel and get checked into our rooms. The afternoon is yours to explore the city until the scheduled orientation meeting this evening. After our meeting we go to our favorite, local Huaraz restaurant for dinner. Be sure to drink copious amounts of water en route, as flying and traveling will certainly dehydrate you, and Huaraz is over 10,000 feet in elevation. Being hydrated (i.e. drinking lots of water and not drinking alcohol in excess) is a critical component of dealing with significant elevation changes. Self care begins immediately.


Day 2

Hiking Mileage: 3.1 miles
Lowest Elevation: 10,334 feet
Highest Elevation: 11,811 feet
Trekking Duration: 3-4 hours


This morning we enjoy our first Peruvian breakfast at the hotel in Huaraz. Subsequently, we pack our day packs and head to Chiwipampa, where we find the trailhead for Lago de Wilcacocha. Upon arrival at Chiwipampa, we lace up our boots and set out on a 2-3-hour hike to the beautiful Wilcacocha Lake. At the lake, we will have lunch and take in the amazing panorama of the whole Cordillera Blanca while helping our bodies acclimatize. After lunch, we descend to our transportation and ride back to Huaraz, where we have free time until we meet for dinner. Our guides will provide the plan for the following day.


Day 3

Hiking Mileage: 4.3 miles
Lowest Elevation: 12,467 feet
Highest Elevation: 14,599 feet
Trekking Duration: 6-7 hours


This morning will serve as a second acclimatization day. After a hearty breakfast we pack our day packs and drive roughly 1 hour to the village of Pitec. At Pitec, we begin to hike slowly on our way up to Churup Lake. The walk will take 3-4 hours and once we arrive, we'll have lunch and enjoy the amazing glacial lake and stunning mountain scenery. When we are ready, we will descend down a different trail between 2-3 hours until we get back to Pitec. Upon arrival at Pitec, we board our transportation for the 1-hour drive back to Huaraz. We will have time to freshen up before meeting for dinner. At dinner our guides will provide the plan for the following day.


Day 4

Hiking Mileage: 3.7 miles
Lowest Elevation: 9,514 feet
Highest Elevation: 12,139 feet
Trekking Duration: 3-4 hours


This morning after a delicious Peruvian breakfast we depart Huaraz and drive approximately 3 hours until we reach the village of Cashapampa. Upon arrival in Cashapampa, we meet our ‘Arriero’, aka mule driver, and pack all of our food and gear on the mules. We begin hiking up a narrow valley for 2-3 hours until the valley flattens out. In route, we have lunch and take breaks accordingly. We continue to walk until we reach the Llamacoral campsite. Upon arrival at llamcoral, we will find our tents and camp waiting for us. We will be greeted with hot drinks and popcorn by our professional chef and crew. Subsequently, we have free time until dinner is served. Our guides will deliver the plan for the following day.


Day 5

Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
Lowest Elevation: 12,139 feet
Highest Elevation: 13,943 feet
Trekking Duration: 5-6 hours


This morning after a delicious breakfast, we pack up camp and begin hiking up the moderate valley. We eventually reach two beautiful turquoise lakes called Ichiccocha and Jatuncocha. We will have lunch at the Quisuar camp and then continue to the base camp of Mount Alpamayo. From the base camp we continue to one of the most beautiful glacial lakes in the world, Lago Arhuaycocha!! After spending some time at Lago Arhuaychocha, we continue on for another couple hour’s until we reach our camp at Taullipampa. We will have free time, dinner and the plan for tomorrow. Keep your camera handy as the stars and sky can be completely clear and absolutly amazing in these high, remote mountains!


Day 6

Hiking Mileage: 6.8 miles
Lowest Elevation: 12,139 feet
Highest Elevation: 15,583 feet
Trekking Duration: 7-8 hours


After a wonderful breakfast we begin our most challenging day of the Santa Cruz Trek. We leave camp around 8 am and begin hiking slowly up to Point Union Pass (15,583 ft.) From the pass, we have breathtaking views of the famous peaks of the Cordillera Blanca: Taulliraju, Artesonraju (the Paramount Pictures Mountain!) and Contrahierbas. After a snack and break, we continue hiking and descend the adjacent valley to Cachinapampa camp. Upon arrival, we will find our camp waiting for us and have free time until dinner is served. Our guides will deliver the plan for the following day.


Day 7

Hiking Mileage: 1.2 miles
Lowest Elevation: 9,514 feet
Highest Elevation: 12,139 feet
Trekking Duration: 1-2 hours


After breakfast we start hiking for about 1-2 hours until we reach the village of Vaqueria. Upon arrival in Vaqueria, we meet our private bus, de-rig our gear from the mules and say goodbye to our Arriero. Our route back to Huaraz will take us over Portachuelo pass (15,748 ft.) before reaching Llanganuco lake. We will have amazing views of Huascaran north and south, Chopicalqui, Pisco and Yanapaccha mountains. Lunch will be served during the 2.5-hour ride back to Huaraz. Once back in Huaraz, we check back into our hotel rooms, have showers and meet for our final celebration dinner. What a week it's been!


Day 8

This morning breakfast is served at our hotel and our tour will conclude with your shuttle ride back to the airport in Anta or the bus station in Huaraz. Please let us know what time your flight/bus leaves so we can arrange transportation accordingly. There is NO doubt you will love this hiking tour. Thanks for choosing Wildland Trekking!


Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however occasionally trips are subject to itinerary changes based on a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to: extreme weather, political or bureacratic obstacles, earthquakes, fires, flooding and more.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • A detailed trip packet that takes the guesswork out of your travel, training, packing, and preparing for the trip
  • Access to our Adventure Consultant team 7 days a week
  • A professional U.S. Wildland guide, trained in 1st Aid, risk management and assessment and responsibility to provide overall standard of excellence in service quality.
  • Local Peruvian guide(s), expert in cultural and natural history, the local area, fauna and flora, etc.
  • Transportation for the duration of the tour starting on Day 1 and ending on the day you depart
  • Lodging before and after the trekking portion of the trip
  • All camping gear and supplies (including a dining tent and kitchen tent)
  • Porters or mules to transport all gear, food, and most personal items
  • Professional camp chef
  • Drinking water and hot water for washing face, hands...etc.
  • Use of a day pack and trekking poles
  • All meals for the duration of the tour
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Transportation to Huaraz, Peru
  • Trip insurance that includes medical coverage and at least $200,000 in evacuation and repatriation coverage (strongly encouraged)
  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Gratuities (industry recommendation is 10-15% of the trip cost, distributed between their guides and porters.)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.


Meals: What To Expect

This Peru hiking tour features a combination of in-town meals and meals prepared by your guide. We'll have dinners at carefully selected, wonderful restaurants in Huaraz as well as meals prepared on the trail by a professional camp chef.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables. In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We can often accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee, and in some countries may be more difficult to accommodate than others. Please inquire with us for more information about the specific trip you're interested in.


Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Backpacks
  • Trekking poles
  • Tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone


What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.


What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? Simply click here and complete the form to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 48 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!


Where Do We Meet?

We will meet you at the airport or bus station on Day 1 and transport you to the first night's hotel (included), where we'll conduct an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM the first evening. Your guide will be in contact approximately 4 weeks before your trip to coordinate your rendezvous and answer any last-minute questions you have.


Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our Global Destination trips are led by professional hiking guides (U.S. and local) along with additional support staff. All of our guides are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. Finally, we've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and all tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-888-966-TREK (8735) for more information.

In the interest of your safety, it's important to refer to the Center for Disease Control website for up-to-date recommendations on immunizations before your trip.


Guides

Your tour will be led by trained, experienced professionals (both U.S.-based and local, click here to learn more) with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.


Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on this hiking tour is 10 guests and 2-3 guides, with a minimum of 2 guests and 1 guide. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 888-966-TREK (8735) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis


Weather in Peru

Peru is home to part of the Amazon Rainforest as well as the towering Andes Mountains. Most of our treks in the region reach elevations well above 10,000 feet, some reaching or exceeding 15,000 feet. Because of the wild elevation changes, the temperatures and weather can also vary wildly.

The average temperatures and precipitation in the Huaraz region are:

Month Hi Low Precip
March 57° F 34° F 22 days
April 54° F 32° F 23 days
May 52° F 30° F 18 days
June 50° F 27° F 26 days
July 48° F 27° F 19 days
August 48° F 27° F 18 days
September 48° F 27° F 16 days
October 50° F 28° F 17 days