Rubbish on the rise on popular Santa Cruz Trek

T he Santa Cruz Trek is slowly edging its way into the realms of Machu Picchu and Colca Canyon as one of Peru’s main attractions, having even been included amongst the National Geographic’s list of the ‘World’s best hikes.’ The 4 to 5 day trek takes you through luscious green terrains, to the snowy heights of 4,500m, glacial lakes, and across desert valleys. The astounding natural beauty has drawn an increasing number of tourists to Huaraz, but with the increased footfall, the trek has become littered with…litter.

On the Santa Cruz Trek, nature is your only bathroom, and one is forced to find a secluded bush or alcove to do their business. Unfortunately, travellers tend not to keep their inorganic matter to themselves, and subsequently hundreds of used tissues blow in the wind, spread throughout the valley. This is unpleasant to say the least. The general rule for trekking is to leave nothing behind, but travellers, through laziness and perhaps revulsion, don’t fancy keeping a bag full of their own rubbish. Unfortunately, if you’re taking advantage of Peru’s beautiful landscape, this is part of the deal

The worst places for garbage are near the campsites. Efforts are often made to stash ones toilet paper underneath rocks, but these do not hold against the often strong winds inside the valley. Others may bury their waste, but underneath the earth toilet paper can take over two years to decompose. Above ground, it may only take two to five months, but this is still two to five months too long.

As tourists more frequently attempt the trek without guides, this problem has gotten worse. In my experience, guides make an effort to gather waste, and never leave their own. Doing the trek without such supervision seems to have led to greater complacency. Furthermore, those trekking without a mule may be tempted to ease the load on their backs by saving weight and space, but carrying a bag of waste is negligible compared to the damage leaving it behind can cause.

There is just one shop on the route, eight kms from the more popular Cashapampa start, and so for the most part the waste is coming from the materials tourists bring with them from outside. Try and pack intelligently, bring bags, and make space for your waste. If you reduce the materials you’re bringing into the park, this will make it easier to carry those same materials out with you. Shedding weight is no excuse, and to travel responsibly is to leave nothing behind, so that others can continue enjoy the astounding beauty of the Santa Cruz Trek, without being hit in the face by used toilet paper. If you fancy being a real supporter of the cause, make extra space for any litter you may find along the way.

Unfortunately, it is impractical to have bins placed along the trail. It is easy to imagine the rush to cram ones waste into a trash can, resulting in overflow and becoming garbage site. Additionally, rubbish collection in such an isolated place without roads is not logistically possible. The onus is on the traveller to keep it clean.

Without action, this waste will not disappear. The Santa Cruz Trek is inside a valley, flanked by mountains on either side of your path, it cannot escape and so it will continue to build and build.


Author: Frederick Clayton

Photo: Frederick Clayton

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply


Cracks in Peru’s tallest mountain are caused by climate change, say researchers

A research team spent five days ascending the dizzying heights of Peru’s tallest mountain on a scientific expedition to record […]

Jesse Galganov´s father praises local police and indicates not to give up

Canadian citizen Jesse Galganov has been missing for 51 days and sadly, the search for him has not yet resulted […]

Polish family of mountaineer who died in Ojos del Salado thanks rescue guide from Huaraz

Agnieszka Cruz-Koniak, daughter of the Polish mountaineer who died on Volcano Ojos del Salado (located on the Argentina-Chile border) earlier […]

Valery Rozov dies after a failed BASE jump attempt in the Himalayas

Rozov was an internationally renowned BASE jumper, a sport reserved for only the most fearless, whereby one free falls from […]

Ancash resident and Peruvian actress Claudia Dammert (68) passes away

Beloved actress and devoted resident of the Ancash region, Claudia Dammert, sadly passed away this week. She was 68, and […]

Spanish Red Cross to complete humanitarian help project in Huarmey

In the beginning of March of this year, the province of Huarmey became one of the most affected places in […]

GPS signal indicates Jesse left Huaraz and went to Caraz for Santa Cruz area according to police

No breakthrough yet but some advances after weeks of silence. During his weekly meeting with the press, the head of […]

Trail runner Hernán Henostroza Gamarra from Huaraz wins 38k Misti Sky Race in Arequipa

The youngster from Huaraz just keeps on winning. In May of this year, Hernán Henostroza Gamarra managed to win the […]

How on earth could Jesse Galganov just vanish in Huaraz without a trace?

One month on and the police apparently have absolutely nothing on Jesse Galganov´s disappearance. The two video cameras which captured […]

Travelling at 3000m and the effects of altitude in Huaraz

Four years ago Lionel Messi famously threw up in a football match against Bolivia; Bolivia’s stadium is at 3800m, and […]

18-year-old female Canadian mountaineer rescued from Mount Alpamayo

Eighteen-year-old Canadian Sara Murphy, a mountaineer who was reported missing on October 29th in the Alpamayo mountain range of the […]

Administrator of Kame House states to fully cooperate: ¨Jesse Galganov never arrived at our establishment¨

Christopher Garcia Obregon, owner and administrator of Kame House Backpackers, the hostel where Jesse Galganov ostensibly stayed one night on […]

Where is Jesse Galganov? 10.000$ reward for tip that leads to his finding

Journalists of Peruvian broadcaster America TV travelled to Huaraz to find out more about the disappearance of the 22-year-old Jesse […]

Language Centre of the Casa de Guías to organise talent show

Because of the celebration of the anniversary of the Association of Mountain Guides of Peru (AGMP), and being part of […]

INAIGEM announces cooperation agreement and construction of Museum of Andean Mountains

The Ohio State University in the US and the INAIGEM (National Institute of Research on Glaciers and Mountain Ecosystems) signed […]

Update: Two rescue teams have headed out to search for Canadian tourist

The editor of The Huaraz Telegraph has spoken to the head of the Tourist Police in Huaraz, Major Godofredo Vargas […]

Update: Still no traces of Jesse Galganov, local authorities all informed

Sadly, there are still no traces of Jesse Galganov, the Canadian citizen who went missing at the end of September. […]

Urgent: Canadian tourist missing and last seen in Huaraz

Jesse Galganov

The Huaraz Telegraph was contacted this morning by Magda Fernández who informed us that Canadian citizen Jesse Galganov has been […]