The Santa Cruz trek, much like its counterpart, the Cordillera Huayhuash trek, is a renowned expedition in the Peruvian Andes. While many choose to embark on this journey with organized tours, complete with cooks, guides, and horsemen, I decided to embrace the challenge of going it alone. In this blog post, I’ll recount my four-day adventure through the stunning landscapes of the Santa Cruz trek, sharing insights, challenges, and the breathtaking beauty that unfolded along the way.
Charting My Own Course
My determination to trek independently meant that I needed to handle logistics myself. Unfortunately, on the day I eagerly set out, no organized groups were departing. This led me to take charge of organizing my transportation to the starting point. My journey commenced in Huaraz, where I first traveled to Yungay and spent a night there. The following morning, I boarded the early collectivo to Vaqueria, and to my surprise, I wasn’t the only solo adventurer. The bus was brimming with independent hikers, each with their own tale of exploration.
A Diverging Path
What struck me during this journey was the diversity of approaches among independent hikers. While we all embarked on the Santa Cruz trek, many opted for a swift three-day itinerary, bypassing the opportunity to visit the Alpamayo Basecamp. In contrast, I planned a more leisurely four-day adventure. This decision proved pivotal, allowing me to savor the journey at a comfortable pace.
Day One: Finding My Stride
The first day was a gentle introduction to the trek. As I started, a couple from the Netherlands led the way ahead, and a group of independent hikers less experienced than I followed behind. This early spread granted me a peaceful campsite to call my own, setting the stage for a serene night in the mountains.
Day Two: Lakes and Decisions
The second day unfolded with a mesmerizing array of lakes. I journeyed through this aquatic wonderland and camped near the junction that leads to the Alpamayo Basecamp. On the way I also tried to swim in one of the lakes which was at 4600m, but the water was so freezing cold that I did not manage to swim in it. I just barely managed to but my whole body in it and wash my self.
Day Three: Alpmayo Basecamp
The following morning, I embarked on a side trip to the enchanting Alpamayo Lake and its basecamp. The view from this vantage point was nothing short of spectacular, with a clear sight of Mount Artesonraju, a peak made famous by Paramount Pictures. After relishing nearly three hours by the lake, I continued my trek to the next campsite, once again enjoying solitude amidst the grandeur of nature.
Day Four: The Homestretch
The final day of my adventure began on a relatively level terrain before transitioning into a lengthy descent alongside a picturesque river. The soothing sound of rushing water accompanied me as I made my way back to the trailhead.
Reflecting on My Adventure
In conclusion, my four-day expedition on the Santa Cruz trek was a testament to the rewards of independent exploration. It allowed me to forge a deeper connection with nature, take control of my journey, and experience the stunning landscapes of the Cordillera Blanca at my own pace. This adventure is etched into my memory as a profound journey of discovery and a celebration of the awe-inspiring beauty of the Peruvian Andes.