Hi Richard - thanks for the note. Glad you enjoyed our report.
Yes, we read your trip report of the Alpamayo Circuit. It looked fantastic as well. Thanks for posting that!
There is so much to see in that part of the Andes that we could have easily hiked for 3-6 months. And you're right - Peru is very close and flights are reasonably priced. Also, Peru doesn't impose any visa fees like the $140 visas for Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Argentina.
We did the Santa Cruz Loop as well and loved it. We found that as soon as we ventured into any of the side valleys, we had the trail to ourselves. Such a stark difference - no more massive groups with donkeys and circus tents and such.
We also had a good laugh when we talked with one of the mulateers. He had just finished working a 14 day guided trip on the Alpamayo Circuit, something that you did in about half the time, and these hikers didn't even have to carry their gear!