Santa Cruz is definitely one of the most popular and most frequently chosen by tourists trekking route in the Cordillera Blanca, Huaraz, Peru. As a rule, most people decide to select a four days Santa Cruz expeditions, but the good news for all of you who want to make it shorter – you can do it also in three days.Due to the fact that most of us have limited time to explore new places, always it is worth to analyze all possibilities and choose the ones that allow us to see more and at the same time in a shorter time. If you will choose 3-days option, for sure you will have some extra benefits. First of all you will save an additional day which you can use for another exciting tours :-).
Below you will find a lot of tips about how to organize Santa Cruz trekking on your own in 3 days
To overcome the route in 3 days, you need to focus on proper organization of the expedition. If you have your own equipment (tent, sleeping bag, cooking set, etc.), and at the same time a extra strength for lifting on your back about 10-14 kg (depending on the weight of equipment), I recommend the option without the travel agency. You can save not only money, but simply from the beginning to the end, be the master of your fate. Thanks to that you will have 100 % of control about choosing a place to stay for the night, choosing the place for resting and what you will eat during that time.
If you are afraid of getting lost, do not worry. It is not easy to get lost on that way. There is only one road and usually you will not be alone there. A lot of tourists every day walk on that path, so even if you will be not sure about something, you will have a lot of possibilities to ask for the direction. Due to the popularity of this route, it is difficult to avoid the contact with other people. So if you are dreaming about escaping for a while from the people, you should rather consider choosing another trekking route.
Before choosing Santa Cruz trek, remember that in order to do it in 3 days you should start your adventure in Vaqueria and follow the route to Cashapampa!
I met with the opinions that it does not matter where you are going to start Santa Cruz trek – if it will be from Vaqueria village or from Cashapampa town. On the contrary, this is a very important issue ! Maybe not so important, if you decided to do the trek in 4 days, but if you want to spend on that tour only 3 days, decision about where to start will influence all your trip.
Firstly much easier is to reach in the morning (the first day of the trip) to the village of Vaqueria, than to Cashapampa. It can take more then half a day to go to Cashapampa.
Secondly, if you will choose the option from Vaqueria, then most of the way you will have down the hill (there will be only two hard parts up the hill). If you will start from Cashapampa, you will have much more up the hill. In that case you will have to put more energy and strength to overcome the road, what obviously will be harder.
In conclusion, I strongly recommend you to start the trek in Vaqueria. It is a tiny village located in the mountains, around 4-5 hours from Huaraz. Our trip began at 6 am, when we took so-called colectivo to Yungay. After about 1.5 hours we reached that town. Here we had to wait a little longer for the next colectivo, which could take us directly to Vaqueria. After receiving quite a good price, for only 15 soles per person, we moved towards our starting point. The road was terrible, among others because was very bumpy. This part of the trip took about 2.5 – 3 hours. We arrived to Vaqeria around 11 am. Here we took a quick meal, and our trekking adventure began …
First day we finished at 5 pm. The route was not difficult, but heavy backpacks, one of them with some defects, did their job. We were quite exhausted.
The second day we started at 7:45 and it was a very picturesque, varied part of the trip, but also the heaviest.
That day we had to overcome the mountain pass and it was definitely the most difficult part of the entire expedition.
Actually the second day was much longer, because I wanted to see the lagoon situated in front of the beautiful peak Alpamayo.
To get to the lagoon we had to stray from the main path of Santa Cruz and take an extra walk – in addition about 1.5 hours each way. Despite the fatigue, we made it. We arrived the the base camp around 16:45. We abandoned ours backpacks on one of the trees, because with them we did not have the strength to climb any meter more … and the last 20 minutes of hiking to lagoon we did without a load. We had a little apprehensive, about our equipment, but fortunately after returning from the lagoon, all our things survived intact.
Because it was a little too late to go back to the main trail of Santa Cruz, we decided to spend the second night close to the lagoon, in the base camp to Alpamayo. It was perfect place for camping with incredible silence, peace, the absence of any signs of tourists and with beautiful view of the snow-capped peak Alpamayo.
After a well-earned rest, we started our last -third day of the expedition around 6.30 am.
It was the easiest day, because practically the whole time we had downhill. The only obstacle we encountered, it was the distance, because we had to overcome a lot of km.
Around 3 pm we managed to finish the whole trekking in Cashapampa. After short rest, a warm meal at a roadside bar about 4.30 pm we caught a taxi to the town of Caraz, where we arrived at 6 pm. Here we took a collectivo directly to Huaraz. The Santa Cruz adventure finally was finished around 7.30 pm.
The cost of the Santa Cruz trek – 3 days
- Total cost: 155 soles per person
- 5 soles – colectivo Huaraz – Yungay
- 15 soles- colectivo Yungay – Vaqueria
- 6 soles – taxi Casapampa – Caraz
- 6 soles- Caraz – Huaraz
- 65 soles- exit to the park, valid 21 days
- 40 soles- food, water
- 18 soles- gas for cookinng
If you will decide to organize Santa Cruz trekking on your own, necessary start your tour in the village called Vaqueria. Leave Huaraz at maximum 5:00 am. Thanks to that you will be able to overcome a long section of the route on the first day and choose the place to sleep in the beautiful scenery, about 2 hours away from the first camp. This will help you also to overcome the second day of the trail and you will have more time for visiting additional places like lagoon in front of Alpamayo mountain 🙂
I wish you good luck and a lot of joy during the trip 🙂
Thanks for the report of your 2014 Santa Cruz Trail hike. If begun at Vaquería, is it hard to find the trailhead and not get confused by other local trails or roads? There are signs at Cashapampa, but are there any at Vaquería? The satellite pictures show two vehicular roads, but the trail itself seems indistinct. Any guidance or comment appreciated.