Backpack the Santa Cruz Valley: Vaqueria to Cashapampa

Vaqueria, Peru - Search Nearby - Added by Quinnen Donahue

Rated as one of the "World's Best Hikes" by National Geographic, travel through the incredible Santa Cruz Valley in the Cordillera Blanca range and be completely surrounded by monolithic snow-capped peaks. This is the second tallest range in the world with 33 mountains reaching higher than 5,500m. Jagged and sharp, they create a perfect contrast cutting into the blue sky. Among the twelve giants on this trek you will find Mt. Artesonraju made famous by Paramount Pictures and Mt. Alpamayo which was declared the "World's Most Beautiful Mountain" in 1966. Though you may be captivated by your upper vision, don't forget to look down and around. Along the way you will walk past lush moss-filled areas with twisted, knobby trees that create an enchanted forest feeling, gushing glacial rivers and and strings of perfect waterfalls. Test the limits of your body on this high altitude hike and leave plenty of time to acclimate.

Permits and Logistics:You can do this hike in fewer days if interested as there are many National Park approved campsites to choose from. According to the "Casa de Guias" the Huascaran National Park may start cracking down on independent trekkers who are choosing to camp outside of the designated sites. But at the time of writing this you are able to camp and hike without a guide and sleep outside of the designated sites. You must purchase a Huascaran National Park entrance ticket. You can buy it at the ranger station before entering the park. It is s/.65 (approx. $20 USD) and it is valid for 21 days. You will need your passport number. If you are taking public transport, remind the driver to stop so you can pay the entrance fee.

The hike may be done in two directions. Both are equally beautiful, but when choosing the direction that is best for you there are a couple things to consider: 

1. This trek requires a decent amount of commuting to and from the trail head. It is easier to do the longer, more logistically challenging transport at the beginning.
* It is approximately a five hour drive from Huaraz to Vaqueria and transportation to and from is less frequent. * It is approximately a three hour drive from Huaraz to Cashapampa.
2. There is less elevation gain walking from Vaqueria to Cashapampa. You will save yourself 800m of uphill going this direction.

The Hike: Vaqueria to Cashapampa

Day 1: Vaqueria (3700m) to Paria (3870m)Approximately 5 hours driving, 3-4 hours of trekking.It is best to leave Huaraz early because it is approximately a five hour drive to the trail head. It is a beautiful drive up harrowingly sharp switchbacks to the Portachuelo viewpoint (4700m). Along the way you will be introduced to the first five giants of the Cordillera Blanca range: Mt. Huascaran (6768m), Huandoy (6395m), Chopicalqui (6354m), Chacraraju (6112m), and Pisco (5752m). Once in Vaqueria you will have the opportunity to buy some last minute snacks and water before descending through the Huaripampa village and back up the valley. Camp at the second designated campsite at the base of Mt. Paria (5510m).

Day 2: Trek to Taullipampa (4250m) via Punta Union Pass (4750m)Approximately 7 hours of trekking.This is the most challenging day of the hike but you are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Santa Cruz Valley, the aquamarine pools scattered below and the five peaks lining the walls: Mt. Quitaraju (6036m), Ririjirca (5810m), Pucajirca (6050m), Artesonraju (6025m).Optional Excursion to the glacier. For an up close experience, you can delay taking the trail that leads down into the valley. From the Punta Union Pass, hike across the grassy areas towards Mt. Taulliraju's glacier.

Day 3: Trek to Llamacorral (3760m) via Alpamayo Base Camp (4330m) and Lake Arhuaycocha (4400m)Approximately 7 hours of trekking.Start the morning with an Optional Excursion to the glacial lake down the Arhuaycocha Valley. This is one of the highlights of the trek and well worth the detour. From this valley you will get a stunning view of multiple peaks including the world-renown Mt. Alpamayo (5947m), Mt. Artesonraju (known as the "Paramount" mountain), as well as Quitaraju (6036m) and Jancarurish (5601m). Returning back to the Santa Cruz Valley, you will continue towards the Alpamayo Base Camp. The trail turns into a desert-like rocky beach which was a result of a landslide in 2012. Camp near the Llamacorral stone structures right after a reed-filled lake.

Day 4: Trek to Cashapampa (2900m), Drive back to HuarazApproximately 3 hours trekking, 3 hours driving.You descend through a hot, steep valley to arrive in the village of Cashapampa. In the village there are plenty of small shops and restaurants to use the bathrooms and refuel with beverages and lunch.

Weather:The trail is between 2900m to 4750m high. It can be very cold at night in the high altitude camps. Make sure that you are bringing adequate warm layers. It is best to travel in the dry season between May to September.Altitude Sickness:You should arrive in Huaraz at least 1-2 days before trekking to acclimate. Look out for other people in your group. Common symptoms of altitude sickness can include: nausea, headache, dizziness, tiredness, loss of appetite, and shortness of breath. To learn the basics about altitude sickness, its symptoms, and how to treat it visit WebMD.

Among the twelve giants on this trek you will find Mt. Artesonraju made famous by Paramount Pictures and Mt. Alpamayo which was declared the "World's Most Beautiful Mountain" in 1966. Though you may be captivated by your upper vision, don't forget to look down and around. Along the way you will walk past lush moss-filled areas with twisted, knobby trees that create an enchanted forest feeling, gushing glacial rivers and and strings of perfect waterfalls. Test the limits of your body on this high altitude hike and leave plenty of time to acclimate.

Distance

28 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

3445 ft Gain

Type

Point-to-Point

Activities

Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating:  Rate this Adventure

Have you done this adventure? Leave a review!

Tours

More Tours

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Hike to Laguna 69 in Cordillera Blanca

Adventure

Hike Laguna Paron

Adventure

Backpack the Laguna 69 - Pisco Base Camp Loop

Adventure

Hike to the Wilcacocha Lake

More Nearby Adventures