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Answering All Your Questions About The Santa Cruz Trek in Peru: Trekking Paradise

Nestled within the breathtaking Cordillera Blanca, the Santa Cruz hiking adventure in Peru beckons adventure seekers to explore its scenic wonders. Towering peaks, pristine lakes, and glacial canyons create a backdrop for an unforgettable trekking experience. In this blog, we’ll delve into the details of this trek, providing a comprehensive guide for those yearning to embark on this journey.

Key Takeaways

  • The Santa Cruz Trek in Peru stands as a testament to the allure of adventure, inviting trekkers to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of the Cordillera Blanca
  • The Santa Cruz Trek stands tall as an alternative to the famed Machu Picchu, offering a less crowded but equally mesmerizing adventure
  • While independent trekkers can navigate the Santa Cruz Trail, opting for a guided experience enhances the journey

Quick Facts About The Santa Cruz Trek in Peru

santa cruz trek mountains

The Santa Cruz Trek in Peru is a renowned and captivating hiking adventure that takes outdoor enthusiasts through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. This iconic trek is situated in the Huascarán National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offering a mesmerizing blend of snow-capped peaks, crystal-clear glacial lakes, and lush valleys.

Distance of the Santa Cruz Trek

The Santa Cruz Trek spans approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles), offering a perfect balance of challenge and immersion in the stunning Peruvian landscape.

Days Needed to Complete the Trek

For a comprehensive exploration, plan for a 4-day, 3-night adventure.

Best Time to Travel to The Santa Cruz Trek

Choosing the right time for your trek is crucial. From May to September, the weather is relatively dry, ensuring clear paths and unobstructed views. These months provide a window of opportunity for trekkers to relish the beauty of the Cordillera Blanca without the hindrance of rain.

Highest Elevation

Punta Union Pass, standing proudly at 4750 meters (15,584 feet), provides a panoramic view of the Cordillera Blanca’s towering peaks.


The Santa Cruz Trek strikes a balance between challenge and accessibility. While some sections may be demanding, trekkers with moderate fitness levels can conquer this trail. The ascent to Punta Union Pass adds a touch of adventure, making it a satisfying journey for both beginners and seasoned hikers.

Closest Town

Huaraz serves as the gateway to this trekking paradise, providing a base for trekkers to acclimate and prepare.

Alone or with a Guide?

While independent trekkers can navigate the Santa Cruz Trail, opting for a guided experience enhances the journey. Knowledgeable guides provide insights into the region’s flora, fauna, and cultural significance, adding depth to the adventure. Travelers can choose from reputable agencies like Bamba Travel for a well-organized and enriching experience.

Cost or Price of the Hike

The cost of the Santa Cruz Trek varies depending on factors such as accommodation, guide services, and transportation. Bamba Travel’s guided Santa Cruz Trek starts at $1,095.

Huacachina as an Alternative to Machu Picchu

a tall tree standing in machu picchu

The Santa Cruz Trek stands tall as an alternative to the famed Machu Picchu, offering a less crowded but equally mesmerizing adventure. As you traverse the Cordillera Blanca, you’ll witness the majesty of snow-capped peaks, including Huascarán, Alpamayo, Taulliraju, Huandoy, and Chacraraju. The Punta Union Pass and the impressive Alpamayo Mountain are highlights that rival any postcard-perfect view.

How to Get to the Santa Cruz Trek

bus in peru

Huaraz, a charming town surrounded by the Cordillera Blanca, serves as the starting point for the Santa Cruz Trek. Travelers typically fly into Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima and then take a scenic bus journey to Huaraz. The road to Huaraz offers a glimpse of the Peruvian landscape, gradually building anticipation for the trek ahead.

Where to Stay in Huaraz for the Santa Cruz Trek

santa cruz trek peru tents

Huaraz provides a range of accommodation options catering to various budgets. From cozy hostels to comfortable hotels, trekkers can find a suitable resting place before and after their Santa Cruz adventure. Popular choices include the Hotel Morales, Hospedaje Casa Blanca, and the Albergue Churup.

What to Bring for the Santa Cruz Trek

couple sleeping on the inca trail - baboo travel peru

Pack sturdy hiking gear, including boots, layered clothing, and a waterproof jacket for Peru’s Santa Cruz Trek. Bring a reliable backpack with essentials like water, snacks, and a camera, along with a durable tent and sleeping bag for camping. Don’t forget to acclimate to the altitude and carry necessary medications for a safe and memorable trek.


Carry a mix of energy bars, nuts, and dried fruits to keep energy levels up during the trek. While some meals are provided, having snacks on hand ensures sustained stamina.


Bring a reliable water purification system or purification tablets to stay hydrated. Access to fresh water sources along the trail allows trekkers to refill their bottles.

Comfortable Clothing and Gear

Essential gear includes a sturdy pair of hiking boots, a weather-resistant backpack, a sleeping bag suitable for low temperatures, and layered clothing to adapt to changing weather conditions. A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are crucial for protection against the high-altitude sun.

Personal Hygiene Materials

Maintaining hygiene during the Santa Cruz Trek is paramount for a comfortable and healthy experience. As trekkers embark on this multi-day adventure, the combination of physical exertion and exposure to the elements makes it essential to prioritize personal care.

  • Toiletries: Pack a compact toiletry kit including toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, and a small towel. Opt for biodegradable soap to minimize environmental impact.
  • Wet Wipes: Carry a pack of wet wipes for quick and convenient hygiene, especially when water sources are limited. These are invaluable for refreshing yourself during the trek.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Maintain hand hygiene by carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Clean hands are crucial, particularly before meals or when handling food.
  • Feminine Hygiene Products: For female trekkers, consider bringing an ample supply of sanitary products. Dispose of used items responsibly, adhering to Leave No Trace principles.

Sleeping Materials

The Santa Cruz Trek lasts for several days, so make sure to bring tools for a comfortable rest, like sleeping bags and tents.

  • Sleeping Bag: Invest in a high-quality sleeping bag suitable for low temperatures. The Andean nights can get chilly, and a good sleeping bag ensures a restful night’s sleep. Also, mosquitos and biting flies could be present so be sure to pack a bug repellant.
  • Sleeping Pad: Bring a comfortable sleeping pad to insulate yourself from the ground. This not only enhances sleeping conditions but also provides additional warmth.
  • Tent Ventilation: If using your own tent, ensure proper ventilation to minimize condensation inside. Well-ventilated tents contribute to a more comfortable sleeping environment.
  • Earplugs: As some campsites may have various sounds from nature, fellow trekkers, or nearby animals, having earplugs can aid in uninterrupted sleep.

Waste Disposal

Adhere to Leave No Trace principles by properly disposing of all waste. Pack out everything you bring in, including used hygiene products.

  • Biodegradable Soap and Shampoo: Choose environmentally friendly, biodegradable soap and shampoo to minimize the ecological impact of washing in natural water sources.
  • Waste Bags: Bring a couple of sealable plastic bags for the proper disposal of sanitary items. These should be packed out with the rest of your waste.

Sample Itinerary for the Santa Cruz Trek

santa cruz trek

Embark on a four-day journey through the heart of the Cordillera Blanca.

Itinerary: Santa Cruz Trek 4D/3N

  • 1 Day / 1 Country
  • Departure city: Huacachina, Peru
  • End city: Huacachina, Peru
  • Price: Starts at US $27

In the heart of Peru lies a hidden gem, a tranquil oasis called Huacachina. Surrounded by towering sand dunes and a serene lagoon, this quaint destination offers more than meets the eye. Our intrepid travel writer embarked on an adrenaline-fueled journey with Bamba Travel, discovering the thrill of sand buggies, the rush of sandboarding, and the enchanting beauty of a desert sunset.

Itinerary: Huacachina Sand-Buggy & Sand-Boarding

  • 4 Days / 1 Country
  • Departure city: Huaraz, Peru
  • End city: Huaraz, Peru
  • Price: Starts at US $1,095

Day 1: Huaraz - Paria Valley, Peru

Getting an early morning start, drive along the Santa Valley, passing several villages until reaching present-day Yungay. The road winds up into the gully between the Huascaran massif and the Huandoy three-pronged peak. Arrive at the boundary of Huascaran National Park, known as Llanganuco, with its crystalline turquoise lakes. Continue driving to Portachuelo de Llanganuco Pass for breathtaking views. Descend to Vaquería, where the trek begins. Walk down to the remote Huaripampa Valley, passing a small settlement of farmers. Camp in the Paria Valley at 3875 masl (12,713 fasl).

Day 2: Paria Valley - Taullipampa, Peru

Ascend towards Punta Union Pass at 4750 m (15,583 ft). This ancient trail, once a bustling route for transporting goods, offers views of Mt. Taulliraju and a pristine glacial lake. Descend into Taullipampa, where you will spend the night at 4180 m (13,713 ft).

Day 3: Taullipampa - Llamacorral, Peru

Continue the hike down the Santa Cruz Valley, passing the side-valley of Arhuaycocha with great views of snow-capped mountain peaks, including Mt. Alpamayo. Ascend to an incredible viewpoint to observe the majestic Alpamayo Mountain. Hike out of the narrowing canyon into Llamacorral, where you will camp at 3783 m (12,411 ft).

Day 4: Llamacorral - Huaraz, Peru

After breakfast, a steep descent brings you to Cashapampa (2944 m / 9658 ft) in the early morning. Meet with your private vehicle that will take you back to Huaraz. Reflect on a memorable journey amidst some of the most spectacular terrain on earth.

Check out the free Santa Cruz Trek 4D/3N itinerary from Bamba Travel.