Santa Cruz hike – part 2

Initially we planned to do the four day Santa Cruz Trek trek on our own, renting trekking gear in Huaraz. Luckily we decided instead to take an organized group trek with Quechuandes. First, we met some great people to hike with, Erica & Maxine from Toronto, Debbi & Michael from Zurich and our crew, Héctor our guide, Elmer the cook and Javier the muleteer. Second, we would never had made it to the Punta Unión Pass (4760m) carrying more than our day packs 😁

We started the trek from Vaqueria to Cashampa, to have the longer drive on the way in and to do the most difficult part of the hike on the second day, going 900m up to the pass and 500m down to the campsite. The overall trek was about 50km, not too difficult but the altitude made everything a bit more strenuous. Despite the acclimatization we still got some headaches but luckily were spared any more severe symptoms. The hike was incredible beautiful, seeing some of the nicest peaks of the Cordillera Blanca including Peru’s highest peak, Mount Huascaran (6768m), Alpamayo (5947m) and Mount Artesonraju (6025m), which is featured in the Paramount Pictures logo. Being so high up, everything seemed sharper and more colorful, with very white mountain tops, pristine azure lakes and deep green valleys. We even got to see some wildlife, with Andean foxes, the chinchilla-related vizcachas, hummingbirds and some of the most agile cows we have ever seen, climbing the steep valleys on 4000m. Our campsites were great to, beside our very good four season tent with the thickest sleeping bags we could rent, we had a kitchen tent, a dining tent and the tiny toilet tent they set up each night by digging a hole in the earth. Great food too, with pancakes for breakfast, avocado sandwiches for lunch, very good dinner and a constant supply of snacks. The whole trek was such an awesome experience, we would repeat it in a heartbeat!