One of the most popular treks in the Cordillera Blanca, the hike around this subtropical mountain range passes through impressive landscapes of uncommonly beautiful mountains, frequent lakes and glaciers. The camps are some of the most spectacular in the world. This is a short and very popular hike with spectacular views of lakes and mountains.
For acclimatization, we begin with a day hike to Laguna Lake Churup at 4,450 meters. The highest and most demanding pass on the Santa Cruz trek is Punta Union Pass at 4,750 meters.
The trail to Laguna Churup is one of the classic hikes of the Cordillera Blanca, challenging but a great acclimatization route. We drive to the village of Llupa, and from there begin our hike on an ancient Inca trail to Laguna Lake Churup. The trail gets narrow and steep, including a small section with fixed ropes. It‘s one of the most beautiful places in this varied mountain region. Churup Peak rises above the lake, a wild rocky mountain with glaciers and cliffs 5,400 meters above sea level. Here we can continue climbing and do a loop to the Churup summit trail before returning to the trailhead and back to Huaraz for the night.
Today, we head for the departure point for our trek. We set off via private transport to the valley of the Santa River, as far down as Caraz and then along a narrow route toward the Santa Cruz Valley. The farmers cultivate the green fields, but agriculture is very difficult here. We arrive at the village of Cashapampa at 2,900 meters where our trek begins and our local team is waiting, burro drivers whose pack animals will carry our baggage from now on. Starting in the lush vegetation of the valley, we continue deeper into this unique mountain landscape. After approximately four and one-half hours of trekking, we arrive at our campsite in Llamacorral.
The next day, we climb via Santa Cruz Gorge and pass alongside the lakes of Ichiccocha y Jatuncocha. At the edge of the trees, the lupines enchant us with all colors of blue. This is a paradise for the local ducks! Next we go to Lake Arhueycocha at 4,450 meters, which is also the departure point for climbing Alpamayo. We enjoy a fantastic view of the peaks of Alpamayo, Quitaraju, Artesonraju, the logo for Paramount Pictures! Many people believe that the white pyramid of Alpamayo is the most beautiful mountain in the world! Camp at Taullipampa.
At first it’s an easy climb through meadows, but the trail soon becomes dry, rocky and steep. This trail was used from pre-Inca times to get to Punta Unión, an imposing mountain. It will take about two hours. The majestic mountains of the Cordillera Blanca you can see today include Taulliraju and Huandoy, Huascaran, the Pucajircas, Artesonraju and many others. The descent is also steep and passes through the beautiful high mountain landscape of the lakes of Morococha. We finally get to the valley of Huaripampa where we camp for the night.
After descending through the forests and whitewater rivers of the Huaripampa Valley, we pass through a typical village of the high Andes, Vaqueria. The farmers here raise small animals and some crops. At this elevation there are still flowers, and their colors brighten the landscape. From the village we climb to Portachuelo de Llanganuco Pass, 4,650 meters, where you will have fantastic views of several mountains covered in snow. And with a bit of luck, we‘ll be able to see vicunas! These timid relatives of llamas graze at elevations of 5,500 meters and it’s not surprising that these animals produce the finest wool in the animal kingdom, tired and happy, we arrive at the hotel.