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Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

Between May 23, 2013 and May 26, we spent 4 days and 3 nights on Santa Cruz Trek in Peru. I'd like to share our experiences and hope it can help you to plan your trips.

We finished this backpacking trip independently without hiring guide or animals to carry our packs. Most of the trail was moderate, except for the day 3 (see below). I believe most of backpackers should be able to finish this trek independently. I recommend carrying a GPS with pre-downloaded tracks because there were at least two times we almost got lost if without a GPS.

For camera gears, I took Canon 6D with RRS L plate, Gitzo 1541T removed center column, remote shutter release and a polarizer. Two lenses, 17-40 and 70-200 F4, were equally useful and highly recommended. I found this setup was relatively lightweight while the image quality was satisfied.

Day 0

We arrived to Huaraz, the gateway of this trek, on May 22. The day was for relax and to buy supplies. We brought Mountain House backpacking food from US. In Huaraz, we needed to buy backpacking permits, fruits and white gas in a hardware store. To our surprise, Huaraz did not look like a tourist town. Most people were local.

Day 1

The journey started in early morning on May 23. We rode a shared minivan from Huaraz to Caraz. The ride was crowed and very bumpy. If I did this again, I would take a car sick pill because I got nauseous at the end. After a nice breakfast, we stopped by Pony's Expeditions in Caraz. The gentalman there was extremely helpful and I highly recommend to stop by there for the latest trekking information. We hired a taxi from Caraz and got to Cashapampa trail head at about 11AM.

The start of the hike was a bit strenuous. After we had ascended for about an hour, the trail became relatively flat. We camped at Llamacorral. The view of the first day did not impress me.

Day 2

As the trail led up, the view became better and better. It was an easy hike that day. We camped at Tuallipampa, the so-called most beautiful campgroud in the world! The view was breathtaking. The sunset was amazing.

Day 3

This section was the most difficult during the trip. We ascended from 4250m to Punta Union, the highest point in this trip and in my life so far, at 4750m. Then we had to descend to next campsite at Tuallipampa. After hiking about 11 miles, a few hours under rain and in completely darkness, we eventually passed Paria and reached to Tuallipampa. We were very tired, and even worse, we had to pitch the tent in the rain!

Day 4

We got up at 5AM and started to realize how good our location was. Our tent was on an meadow along a creek in the valley. Tuallipampa mountain was remotely above us! It was here we experieced an amazing sunrise. East side of Tuallipampa suddenly became red. Although the color only lasted for a couple minutes, it was enough to make our day! The remaining hike was short. We eventually arrived to Vaqueria bus station at about 1PM. From there we rode a crowded minivan, with at least 10 passengers, to Yungay, where we jumped to another minivan to Huaraz.

Taulliraju mountain and the small lake, Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Taulliraju mountain and the small lake

The photo was taken near Punta Union.


Campground at Llamacorral, Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Campground at Llamacorral


Campground at Tuallipampa (4250m), Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Campground at Tuallipampa (4250m)

This place is called the most beautiful campground in the world with surrounded snow mountains.


, Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Small waterfalls in second day., Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Small waterfalls in second day.


Sunset at Tuallipampa, Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Sunset at Tuallipampa


Long exposure at "the world most beautiful campground"., Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Long exposure at "the world most beautiful campground".


Moon light at Tuallipampa., Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Moon light at Tuallipampa.


Sunrise at Tuallipampa., Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Sunrise at Tuallipampa.


Sunrise at Tuallipampa., Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Sunrise at Tuallipampa.


Taulliraju mountain, Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Taulliraju mountain

The photo was taken on the way to Punta Union.


The last switch back to Punta Union., Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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The last switch back to Punta Union.


Punta Union, Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Punta Union


Peak of Tuallipampa, Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Peak of Tuallipampa


Sunrise at Cachinapampa campground, the third day., Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Sunrise at Cachinapampa campground, the third day.


Sunrise at Cachinapampa campground., Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Sunrise at Cachinapampa campground.


Early morning at Cachinapampa campground., Santa Cruz Trek, Peru

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Early morning at Cachinapampa campground.

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