Santa Cruz Ulta trek

Go all over the most important places of the highest tropical mountain range in the world, the Cordillera Blanca.

Traverse a route through the northern region of the Cordillera Blanca via three different valleys: the Santa Cruz, Huaripampa, and Ulta; enjoy spectacular views of 6000 meter mountains including: Taulliraju, Chacraraju, Huascaran, Chopicalqui, and Contrahierbas; cross passes over 4700 meters in altitude that almost touch the glaciers; camp at sites over 4000 meters, get to know your team members, the majority of whom come from the villages of the region; take advantage of the many opportunities to enjoy the wild environment and to take photos.

Duration of trip: 12 days / 11 nights.

Places visited:

  • The Huaraz city
  • The Cordillera Blanca
  • Rock forest of Hatun Machay

Trip includes:

  • 6 nights hotel and 5 nights camping
  • Transfers from/to airport and bus stations
  • All food during the trek and some meals the first and last days as is indicated in the itinerary
  • Bus tickets (Lima – Huaraz – Lima) with a first-class agency
  • Transportation to and from the trek
  • Two acclimtazation hikes in the Huaraz vecinity
  • A bilingual (English/Spanish) guide for the trek
  • Camp cook
  • Burro driver
  • Pack animals (burros and/or horses)
  • Emergency horse
  • General camping equipment for everyone’s use
  • Entrance fees to the park and tourist sites
  • First aid kit
  • General logistics for the trip

Trip does not include:

  • Food or meals not specifially mentioned above
  • Travel or accident insurance
  • Visas or Immunizations


As you can see on the itinerary, the trek includes two days of acclimatization hikes in the vicinity of Huaraz, because the trek takes place in regions higher than 3000 meters.


These are the hotels we will be staying in on this tour: Hotel Bay View in Lima and Hotel Morales in Huaraz, both of 3 star category. In the event that there is no availability, we will change for other of the same category.

Equipment list

  • WA backpack with a capacity of 60 or 70 liters (this could be a duffle or other similar bag of comparable size)
  • A daypack
  • A sleeping bag (we recommend that it be lightweight, synthetic or down, compressible, and warm to temperatures that may drop below 12°C.
  • A warm down or synthetic jacket
  • Three pairs of trekking pants (cotton pants such as jeans are not advisable because they will not dry when they get wet)
  • Two to four pairs of wool socks
  • T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, a sun hat, and a wool knit cap
  • A light rain jacket or rain poncho and a pair of rain pants
    A good pair of trekking boots in good condition
  • A light pair of shoes or sandals for camp
  • A pocketknife
  • A headlamp with spare batteries
  • A pair of sunglasses (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • A tube of sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • Any medicines you need
  • Personal and hygienic items
  • A set of light or medium weight long underwear tops and bottoms
  • A pair of gaiters
  • A pair of gloves


  • Trekking poles
  • Personal sleeping pad
  • Camera
  • Book, notebook, and pen


The trekking season in the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash extends from April to September. Even though this is technically winter in the southern hemisphere, this is also the dry season with very little rain in these months as we are close to the equator. In the dry season the weather is very stable; we can expect only a couple of days with precipitation each week. The average temperature in the mountains above 4000 meters from April to September is between 10 and 14°C. At night the temperature may drop below freezing.

Is this trip appropriate for me?

Anyone who joins a trek like this must be prepared to live with only the basics. You’ll be sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag and without access to showers. You’ll need to be reasonably physically fit, in good health, and able to adapt to the high altitude environment. For people who have a health concern that could affect their ability to perform on the trek, it is recommendable that they discuss this with their doctor.

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Airport pickup and transfer to hotel.
In the hotel meeting with the group, welcome words from one member of the staff of Go2Andes and tour briefing.

Meals included: none

Day 2: Lima – Huaraz

At the appointed time you will be picked up at your hotel and taken to the bus terminal. You will travel to Huaraz leaving at 9:30 a.m. and arriving at about 5:30 p.m. You will then be picked up at the bus station and taken to your hotel.
Meals included: breakfast | lunch

Day 3: The rock forest of Hatun Machay

At about 8:00 a.m., after having breakfast, we board our vehicle and head south from the city of Huaraz following the shores of the Santa River for about two hours to Hatun Machay, which can be translated as “Big Cave”. Located at 4200m, this geological formation features a large overhang in which there are exceptional ancient rock paintings and many curious rock outcrops, which resemble various animals including a gorilla, a peccary, an eagle, and a snail to name just a few. Hatun Machay is also a popular rock climbing destination with many bolted routes and an excellent vantage point for views of the Cordillera Huayhuash.

Meals included: breakfast | lunch

Day 4: Lake Llaca

At about 8:00 a.m. you will be picked up at your hotel and driven for two hours to the east of Huaraz, eventually turning onto a rough dirt road that climbs into the Llaca Valley (4300m). We’ll leave the vehicle near the lodge and continue on foot for about an hour and a half to Lake Llaca (4450m), which is located at the foot of two great glaciated peaks, Ocshapalca and Ranrapalca. We will have time to explore the shores of the lake and then, after a break, we’ll return to our vehicle and head back down to Huaraz.

Meals included: breakfast | lunch

Day 6: Llamacorral – Taullipampa

At the appointed hour, after breakfast, we’ll begin our trek continuing up the Santa Cruz Valley as we did the day before, but now in more open country. We’ll hike though some almost flat sections with views of peaks such as Aguja and Caraz. We will pass near lake Hatuncocha (translates to “Big Lake”) and then turn off the main trail to a route that will take us up a steep trail to the Alpamayo viewpoint at 4300 meters. From here we can see the south face of Alpamayo and the mountain Artesonraju as well. We will have hiked about four hours at this point. After an appropriate break to rest and take photos, it’s about an hour more to Taullipampa (4200m) where we’ll pitch or tents for the night.

Meals included: breakfast | lunch | dinner

Day 7: Taullipampa – Punta Unión Pass– Huaripampa

At about 8:00 a.m., after breakfast, we’ll begin to climb the trail that leads to Punta Unión Pass (4750m). The path, paved with rocks, passes very close to the imposing peak, Taulliraju (5830m); we’ll be closer still when we arrive at the pass. From here we have a view of both the Santa Cruz Valley and the Huaripampa Valley in their entirety. To get to the pass takes about three hours from camp. After a short break, we descend into the Huaripampa Valley. The first part is again stone paved trail that eventually enters a forest and takes us, in about four hours, to our streamside campsite in the Huaripampa Valley at 3700 meters.

Meals included: breakfast | lunch | dinner

Day 8: Huaripampa – Colcabamba – Molinopampa

At the appointed time, after breakfast, we walk down the Huaripampa Valley with the river roaring below us. After about two and a half hours we’ll arrive in a small village called Colcapampa (3300m). Here we will begin to ascend again up the Keshu Valley crossing paths with the people who work the land in this part of the range, most of whom you will see attired in the traditional manner of the highlands. We will also pass through fields planted with traditional Andean crops. After three more hours hiking we’ll reach Molinopampa (3600m), where we’ll camp for the night.

Meals included: breakfast | lunch | dinner

Day 9: Molinopampa – Avalancha

At about eight a.m. we’ll continue our ascent through cultivated fields and native vegetation up the Keshu Valley. After about five and a half hours, we will arrive in a place called “Avalancha” at 4600 meters. Here we cross very near to the mountain, Ichik Ulta’s glacier. From our campsite we will have a direct view of the waterfalls whose source is melting glaciers on the peaks of Contrahierbas.

Meals included: breakfast | lunch | dinner

Day 10: Avalancha – Yanayaku Pass– Ulta – Huaraz

After breakfast we will begin an ascent to the high point of our trek, Yanayaku Pass (4830m). The climb to the pass takes about three and a half hours. From this point we get a close-up view of the peaks Huascaran, Chopicalqui, Contrahierbas, Ulta, and others. After a break to rest and take photos, we’ll descend into the Ulta Valley. It’s about a three-hour trek to the point where our vehicle will be waiting for us. The drive from here back to Huaraz takes about two and a half hours.
Meals included: breakfast | lunch

Day 11: Huaraz – Lima

At the appointed hour you will be picked up at your hotel in Huaraz and brought to the bus terminal where you will board the 11:00 a.m. bus for Lima. Upon arrival in Lima at about 7:00 p.m., you will be met by a vehicle, which will take you to your hotel.

Meals included: breakfast | lunch

Day 12: Lima – Point of departure

At the appointed time, you will be picked up at your hotel and dropped off at the airport.

Meals included: breakfast