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Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

Santa Cruz Trek, PeruWhen people think of hiking in Peru, Santa Cruz is not the trek that first pops into people's minds. However, the relatively high alpine trek through the Cordillera Blanca offers many subtle splendors without the ills of the more famed Inca Trail. While noted as a busy trek, we found the Santa Cruz trek to be relatively quiet and sparsely populated compared to the much heavier traveled Inca Trial. While walking through the soft expansive meadow floor of the valleys one can gaze and enjoy many alpine views above and a widely varied view of flora and fauna. Just keep watch of your feet as cow poop is everywhere!




Days Trekking: 4 days (We took 5 by adding a side trip)
Distance: 50 km, 31 mi
Max Elevation: 4,760 meters, 15,617ft, Punta Union
Starting Elevation: 2,900 meters, 9,514ft
Approximate Elevation Change: 1,860 meters,6,103 ft
Price Range Independent: <$150
Price Range Outfitter: < $500
Challenge Level: Moderate



  • Incredible view from Punta Union pass
  • Subtle beauty throughout the trail
  • Easily accessible high alpine splendor


When to Go

May through early September.


Guided vs Independent Treks

It is fairly easy to independently hike the Santa Cruz Trek. A few hikers we saw were doing this. However, unless you are really strapped for cash, we recommend hiring a reputable guide service (we used Peruvian Andes Adventures). The cost wasn't excessive and the service was top notch.

Luxuries like not having to carry your gear, worry about setting up a tent, cooking, and having a private bathroom tent really make the trip a delight. Unlike trekking with porters, you're not requiring people to carry your load. Instead, donkeys and horses lug your gear over the high pass. In addition, you're providing good work for locals and gain a lot in local interaction as there is very little village life along the trail.


Map of the Santa Cruz Trek will be added shortly
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Elevation Map will be added Shortly

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Access / Local Information

Fly into Lima Peru. From there you can either take a short flight to Huaraz or an eight hour bus ride. The flight was quick, but had highly restrictive weight limits for trekkers with a reasonable amount of gear. If flying, prepare to pay excessive baggage fees, we paid ~$50. The buses were actually a pleasure. The higher end bus lines have very comfortable seats and provide bathrooms, entertainment and food.

Once in Huaraz you need to get a ride to the village of Cashapampa and the trail head. If you hire a trekking company, they will take care of this for you.



The trek travels from the village of Cashapampa and ends in the settlement of Vaqueria. Along the way you climb and the walk through many valleys with views of numerous five and six thousand meter peaks including Santa Cruz and Nevado Tauliraju.


Day to Day Account - Jeff Salvage - Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

After completing A Journey Along the World’s Great Treks, I hadn’t any plans to head back to the trail quickly. In fact, we had booked a trip to Thailand and Cambodia. However, when the opportunity came to become The Arthritis Society of Canada’s National Trekking Trainer, how could I refuse. The Arthritis Society’s Joints In Motion program trains fund raisers to trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. As their trainer, I designed their training program and accompanied them on the trip. Since I’d already hiked the trail before, I decided to go early with my wife Jennifer and friend Ben and trek a trail in the north, the Santa Cruz Trail. The story continues...