June 22nd 2018, I completed the Santa Cruz Trek, 4 days, 3 nights.
I wasn’t expecting to do this trek but after doing many day hikes I thought I’d give it a try, I am not a huge hiker and never done a multi-day trek in my life.
Why not do my first one at a very high altitude!? This is a 4 days trek that goes through the Huascaran National Park near Huaraz. It’s actually a 5 hours bus ride to the starting point, the little village of Vaqueria. That place seems to live off exclusively from this trek.
The trek is 51km long, starts at an altitude of 3700 meters, peaks at Punta Union (4750 meters) and ends at 2970 meters in Cashapampa where you get a ride back to Huaraz.
The trek was incredible, the scenery is amazing.
This trek is pretty demanding, if you never done something like this before make sure to go for day hikes at high altitude before getting into a 4 days trek.
On the way to the trail head you stop for pictures in Portachuelo, the highest point of the trip at 4768 meters, by bus.
Here’s a view from that pass, you can see the lagunas of Llanganuco :
The road to get to that point is pretty crazy:
Once you get to the trail head and donkeys get loaded with all the stuff needed for the trek, it begins, the first day is fairly easy, about 3 hours of hiking to the first camp site, Paria.
Here’s some picture along the way:
The warrior, Michael from Caleb Expeditions, carrying a cake and my camera bag!
The sun was very strong the whole trek, not ideal for photography but you can’t wait for proper light, the show must go on!
Got to camp, obviously, amazing view awaiting us:
Tea time had a little extra, happy birthday to Russ:
A little bit of color showed up for sunset:
Night falls and it’s time for night photography, the moon was lighting the camp pretty well but we still could see the milky way:
Day 2, the hard one, 900 meters ascent to Punta Union, the highest point of the trek, the first stop about half way up, as always on this trek, amazing views all all around:
Didn’t take pictures before reaching the pass, Punta Union, it was pretty intense to get up there the camera wasn’t my priority, but we made it, the view of the mountains of Cordillera Blanca is just stunning, this was right after the pass:
This is the side we came from:
We then proceeded to go down to the second camp site, Taullipampa at 4250 meters, on the way there, still amazing views of the Cordillera Blanca:
Got to camp a little before sunset for tea time, hung out a little bit and another pretty colorless sunset came quick, managed to capture just a little bit of the colors over the river:
But a sky without color and clouds also means the milky way will show up again usually and it sure did, the camp site under the stars:
And here’s the river again, this time under the stars:
Day 3, sunrise:
Day 3 is a long one but a little easier then Day 2 since we only go up about 200 meters to Laguna Arhuaycocha and then down to Llamacorral camp site at 3760 meters, but you walk around 20km total, views to and from the walk to the Laguna:
This is known as the Paramount moutain, they say this is the inspiration for the Paramount Pictures logo:
At the Laguna Arhuaycocha :
Birthday boy decided to jump in!
We then proceeded down the valley to walk about 13km to camp, this part of the valley was all destroyed by a huge avalanche 6 years ago:
I was pretty tired and didn’t take pictures until we got to camp, this is the mountain called Taulliraju from camp:
The valley we hiked from:
Sunset giving me some color:
And we can’t end this without another milky way picture of camp, bonus shooting star!
Day 4 is all about going down, and I mean DOWN! 900 meters in about 9km to Cashapampa, a village where transport was waiting for us, I didn’t take many pictures as I was really tired and wanted to get to Cashapampa as soon as possible, still some shots along the way:
A little chapel to honor Santa Cruz:
All in all this trek was A M A Z I N G !
I would recommend it to anyone looking for a multi-day trek adventure in the mountains, the ice capped mountains makes the views stunning, the challenge of hiking the 51km is well balanced in my opinion, you feel like you accomplished something pretty hard but don’t feel like you were close to dying!
I also recommend Caleb Expeditions for this trek, everyone is very nice and professional, the guides know where they are going and are always aware of the capacity of the participants.