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southern crossings south america trek peru

All Southern Crossings tours can be custom-made to fill your travel requirements. Contact us for a custom tour and quote.

Depart any day and customize your Peru tour at no extra charge! We are family and small group tour specialists.

southern crossings peru tour Santa Cruz Trek

Santa Cruz Trek

10 days, 5 trekking, 2-day hikes

Here’s an adventure in which you will be able to experience Peru at its best: trekking amongst the highest mountain tops in the Andes. This is a great trip for those who have already been to Machu Picchu or who are saving it for another trip or would prefer to venture a little more off the beaten path.

The Santa Cruz Trek is one of the most popular hiking routes in the Cordillera Blanca. An option exists to do the trail in just 4 days, but our Santa Cruz expedition includes a 2-day extension through the far-more pristine Ulta Valley which is a highlight for those who have the time to go. The trail winds through fertile alpine valleys, boasts views of spectacular glaciated peaks and crosses from one side of the Cordillera Blanca to the other by means of Punta Union pass which rises to 14,725ft (4,750m), then back again over Yanayacu pass at 15,035ft (4,850m) before descending to the trailhead above the small town of Shilla. With donkeys carrying the load, the walk is made even more enjoyable, allowing one to focus their attention on the stunning landscape instead of the weight of their backpack. An optional hike to visit the popular Alpamayo base camp can be woven into the trip on day 2, or for those more inclined to just put their feet up and take in the sights, the grassy pasture of Taullipampa couldn’t be a more perfect resting place. You’ll wander past the monstrous peaks of Santa Cruz, Artesonraju, Taulliraju and more. On your way to Colcabamba, you’ll pass through a small community where you’ll see up close and personal the customs of the people and perhaps even taste some of their local cuisine. A short and very rewarding hike, it is no wonder why the Santa Cruz is considered “the trek” to do in Huaraz. This is a unique, experience you will not want to miss.

Day 1: Arrive into Lima. Bus to Huaraz.

Day 2: Orientation meeting and hike.

Day 3: Day Hike.

Day 4-8: Santa Cruz Trek.

Day 9: End of Trek and celebration dinner.

Day 10: Late morning bus to Lima. International flights may depart any time after 11pm.

Add extra free days in Lima or a city tour before or after your trek.

Trip itinerary

Day 1

Private transfer in the morning to the bus station. Take a comfortable first class
bus ride to Huaraz (7.5-hour bus journey). Arrive in Huaraz and meet your guide at the bus station and private transfer to your hotel.

Day 2

Orientation meeting. ½ day acclimatization hike to Puka Ventana 10,850ft (3,500m). Overnight in a hotel in Huaraz.

Day 3

Today we will go on a day hike to the turquoise waters of Laguna Churup 13,950ft (4,500m).
Approximately 6 hours round trip. Return to Huaraz and overnight in a hotel.

Day 4

Depart early for the small town of Cashapampa and the beginning of the Santa
Cruz Trek. Meet your donkeys, load up the equipment, and hike 5-6 hours this
day to arrive to the first camp in Llamacorral (3,800m).

Day 5

Llamacorral to Taullipampa, side trip optional to Alpamayo basecamp. Camp
below the towering, impressive peaks of Artesonraju and Taulliraju at 4,200m.

Day 6

Taullipampa up and over the Punta Union pass (4,750m), dropping down onto
the other side of the Cordillera Blanca to the camp in Paria (aprox. 4,200m).
Hiking time 6-7 hours.

Day 7

Today we continue the descent towards the town of Vaqueria, then cut southeast on the trail at Colcabamba. Enter the Keshu valley and camp in an area called ‘Molino
Pampa’ Hiking time, 4 hours.

Day 8

Hike up a steady climb to a beautiful campsite called Contra Hierbas or ‘Avalancha’ at 4,650m on the northeast side of the Yanayacu pass. Hiking time 4-6 hours.

Day 9

Cross over the Yanayacu pass (4,850m) and descend down the southern side
toward the Ulta Valley below, meet your transport and head back to Huaraz for
showers and a celebration dinner. Overnight in hotel. 

Day 10

Before taking the bus to Lima you will have time for a nice breakfast and to visit the plaza before departing at 11:00 am (or 1pm), arrive at the airport by 8:00pm. International flights may depart any time after 11pm.

Add a Lima city tour before or after:

If adding an extra day in Lima your hotel will be in the neighborhood of Miraflores, with good artisan markets and restaurants, and you’ll have an included city tour in the afternoon. The city tour lets you explore the wonders of the colonial capital, you visit the famous Plaza de Armas, as well as the impressive Cathedral in the Plaza and the beautiful San Francisco church. You also get a chance to take in some beautiful views of the coast at Parque de Amor.

Lima City Tour – Option 2: Larco Museum & Huaca Pucllana (upon request). Let us know if you would prefer this tour over the Cathedral Tour (or both for an extra fee). We could also plan a tour of the Huaca Pucllana at night if you have time in Lima. The site is lit up until midnight and looks amazing!

The Larco Museum is housed in an 18th century viceroyalty-era mansion. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the Larco Museum is a stimulating and inspiring space in which visitors can enjoy and learn more about the fascinating history of ancient Peru. The cultures gallery provides a clear and captivating narrative account of more than 5,000 years of pre-Columbian Peruvian history. Visiting the Larco Museum with their more than 45,000 meticulously catalogued archaeological objects, is a unique experience.

The Archaeological Complex “Huaca Pucllana” was an Administrative and Ceremonial Center of the Lima Culture, a society that developed at the Peruvian Central Coast between 200 AD and 700 AD. Located in today’s district of Miraflores the “Huaca Pucllana” was built around 500 AD. “Pucllana” is one of the most important ancient monuments in Lima. Based on the “Huaca Pucllana” architecture and found objects, it is believed that the complex was the heart of development of the “Lima Culture” and served as a ceremonial and administrative center.

Is this trip for me?

This trip includes seven days of trekking. No major trekking experience is required but one should thoroughly enjoy hiking and be in good physical health with no serious heart or respiratory conditions. Those over 55 should receive a medical check-up and doctor’s approval within six months of the start of the trip. As always, a certain patience is required for the inconsistencies and occasional delays of developing-world travel.

Joining the tour

On all Southern Crossings tours you are met at the airport by one of our representatives (holding a Southern Crossings placard) who will accompany you to our joining hotel. No bargaining or being swindled by airport taxis.

What’s included in the trip

  • Private airport pickups – at the beginning of trip and drop off at end of the trip.
  • Southern Crossings bilingual guides
  • First Class Bus Ticket to/from Huaraz
  • One night of 4-star accommodation, three nights of 3-star hotel accommodation, 5 nights of camping
  • Five-day trek – including bilingual guide, cooks, meals, porters, tent, sleeping bag and mat
  • Five lunches, and five dinners on your trek in Huaraz.
  • Breakfast – included with all hotel and lodge stays.
  • Huaraz city tour
  • 24-hour customer support line while on tour

What’s not included

International flight to/from Lima, pre- & post- tour accommodation, visas, vaccinations, personal insurance, meals except where specified above, drinks, laundry, souvenirs, tips while on optional excursions and other items of a personal nature. Medical travel insurance is not included through Southern Crossings and cancellation insurance is advisable.

Extra activities

Add extra activities such as river rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking, climbing, surfing and free days to your custom itinerary. Ask about these options and we’d be happy to add them to your quote. If you have any special requests or interests like birding, cooking or crafting that you would like to explore please let us know!

Accommodation Upgrades

This tour includes 2- and 3-star hotels, one 4-star hotel and camping. We would be happy to give you an upgrade in Lima. Let us know we can then work it into your custom itinerary.

Pre-trip planner

Required documents

All travelers to Peru are required to have a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry. Visas are not required for E.U., U.S., Canadian, Australian or New Zealand passport holders. For other nationalities, please consult the nearest Peruvian embassy or consulate. An onward ticket and proof of funds may also be required at entry and should be available to show to immigration. Traveler’s checks, currency, or a bank statement, from the bank or printed off the internet, are sufficient for proof of funds.

Required immunizations

No immunizations are required of travelers to these areas of Peru. Travelers may wish to receive hepatitis vaccinations and should be current on all other standard vaccinations. No areas visited on this trip are malaria or yellow fever zones. Please consult your physician or local health department for more information.

Things to bring

During our trek, mules will accompany us to carry most of our things, including all the camping gear. Each passenger is allowed 15 pounds / 7 kilos of personal items which will be carried by the mules. Such items would include warm clothing for camping, toiletries, etc. During the day you’ll be using your daypack and will just need to carry water, snacks, rain gear, and a layer for changing weather conditions. Of course, most people also carry a camera.

One should come prepared for outdoor activity at temperatures ranging from 35° to 80° Fahrenheit / 2° to 27° Celsius, and for extremes of sun and the possibility of rain. A recommended list of things to bring:

  • Passport and, if necessary, visa
  • ATM card (Notify your bank that you will be travelling to Peru)
  • Airline ticket and Travel Insurance Policy
  • Photocopies of airline ticket and documents
  • Wearable pouch for documents and money
  • Sturdy backpack
  • Smaller, comfortable day pack
  • Hiking boots or sneakers, comfortable and worn-in
  • Sandals or flip-flops
  • Rain poncho or jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Sun hat
  • Hat for cold weather
  • Warm clothing for cold weather (think layers)
  • T-shirts
  • Socks (thin wool or biking socks are best), undergarments
  • Camelbak or Nalgene refillable bottle (optional)
  • Flashlight and/or head lamp
  • Sunscreen (biodegradable & eco-friendly)
  • Insect repellent (biodegradable & eco-friendly)
  • Lip balm
  • Earplugs
  • Alarm clock or watch
  • Sanitizing hand wipes or gel
  • Camera / Camera batteries
  • Reading material
  • Toiletries

It is best to bring from home such items as prescription medications, eyewear and care, unusual film and camera batteries. Please bring all used batteries back home to recycle!


Rain is possible at any time of year, especially in high mountains and cloud forest, and one should always be prepared for temperatures ranging from 35° to 80° Fahrenheit / 2° to 27° Celsius, and for extremes of sun and the possibility of rain. The climate in sites we will visit is as follows:

Huaraz: days are warm if sunny, slightly chilly if cloudy. Nights are chilly in Huaraz and on the Santa Cruz trek.
Lima: warm to hot days, cool evenings, almost never any rain.
Santa Cruz Trek: all ranges of weather from hot desert at the bottoms of canyons to possible snow and rain at higher elevations. Most people trek in shorts or light pants (synthetic, fast-drying fibers are preferable to cotton) and a t-shirt and carry a layer or two (thin fleece and micro-fibers are, again, preferable to cotton), plus a poncho or other rain gear.


For your international flights, please check with your airline. Within Peru, you are allowed 23 kilos (50 lbs.) of checked baggage, as well as one carry-on and another small, purse-like item. The carry-on size regulations are the same as international carry-on size regulations.

Money guide

The unit of currency in Peru is the nuevo sol. Automatic cash points are available in Lima and Huaraz. Visa, MasterCard, Plus, and Cirrus are the most common usable types of cards. Traveler’s checks are difficult to cash (American Express is best, but you may be charged 5-8% to cash) or a Visa or MasterCard for cash advances are also options. Do not bring Money Grams or International Money Orders, as they are extremely difficult to exchange. Banks and exchange houses are available in Lima and Cuzco. For currency, U.S. dollars are recommended and most easily exchanged. Please note that cash must be untorn. It can be older looking, but even the slightest tear on an edge will make it unchangeable. Acceptable bills come out of the ATMs in country. Expect to spend about US$4-$11 on a meal, US$2 on a beer, water or soft drink in Peru. Artisan market prices are usually lower than people expect. Alpaca sweaters, for example, run between $5 and $30.

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