The Ausangate trek is an amazing option for those looking to combine a challenging high altitude hike with a visit to Machu Picchu. With several high passes to cross the Ausangate trek is not for the faint hearted and a good level of fitness is required. You will be rewarded by quiet, uncrowded trails, spectacular glacial lakes, stunning snow-capped peaks and the unusual red scree landscapes of the Rainbow Mountains of Vinicuna.
We offer the Ausangate trek as a private only tour. No open groups.
The Kandoo team will meet you at Cuzco airport and transfer you to your pre-trek hotel. Later you will attend a pre-trek briefing with your Lead Guide to prepare you for the challenge ahead.
The city of Cuzco sits at an altitude of 3400m and is a great place to acclimatise before you start your Ausangate trek. You’ll have plenty of time to explore this charming city and soak up the local atmosphere.
We leave Cuzco early as we have a 4 hour drive to reach the starting point of our trek. On the way we will stop at the village of Checacupe, where we can visit the Church of the Immaculate Conception, one of the oldest of its kind in Peru. We continue driving up the valley to Pitumarka, where we stop for a short rest and you will be able to buy some drinks and snacks if you wish. Finally we will reach our trek start point at Hanchi Pacha, where we will meet our team of local horsemen. While the horsemen prepare the bags and equipment, we will take a picnic lunch.
After lunch we will begin trekking, climbing steadily for 2-3 hours to the village of K’airahuiri Bajo (4550m). It will take about another hour to reach the higher village – K’airahuiri Alto – at 4700m, where we will be camping tonight.
After an early breakfast, it will take 1-2 hours to trek to the Vinicunca Pass, where we will have our first sight of the famous Rainbow Mountains of Vinicuna, with their multi-coloured layers or rock sediment. On a clear day, we will also have amazing views of the snow-capped Apu Ausangate. There will be time to rest and take plenty of photographs before we continue our trek. We now have two high passes to cross – Menos Ponco(4900m) and Chillca (5100m) – which will take around 4-5 hours. We will then descend to our campsite at Pucacocha Lake (4556m)
Another day of spectacular views, as we are surrounded by stunning scenery – glacial lakes and high mountains, including the mighty Apu Ausangate (6384m). We may come across herds of llamas and alpacas, as the herdsmen use these trails to trade with agricultural farmers. Today we have two more passes to cross. We begin by ascending the Apacheta Pass (4600m). The beautiful azure Laguna Ausangatecocha lies below and we descend to the lake before climbing to our second pass, and the highest point of our trek, the Palomani, at 5200 metres. From here we can see the Cordillera Vilcanota mountain range, including the peaks of Caracol and Mariposa. We descend from the pass into the broad green valley of Pampa Jutunpata and continue into the Rio Q’ampa Valley, where we will camp for the night.
We pass through the small community of Q’ampa and head to the final pass of our trek, the Q’ampa Pass at 5000m. We will pass several coloured lakes before stopping for lunch by the turquoise Lake Q’omercocha. We continue to descend for several hours until we reach the Andean village of Pacchanta. The village is inhabited by local herdsmen and their families who give demonstrations of traditional weaving techniques. We have plenty of free time to explore the village and can visit the hot springs to soak our tired muscles.
We will trek for around 3 hours to the village of Tinqui, where we say goodbye to our horsemen. Our driver will meet us to take us to Ollantaytambo which will take around 5 hours. From here we will take the train for 90 minutes to Aguas Calientes. We will stay at a hotel in Aguas Calientes, and will appreciate a hot shower and a comfortable bed.
A short bus journey takes us up to the main Machu Picchu site for a full guided tour; you will also have some time to explore the site by yourselves. In the afternoon we will take the train back to Ollantaytambo and drive back to your hotel in Cuzco.
We will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to Cuzco Airport for your departing flight.
The Ausangate Trek is considered to be a fairly difficult trek. This is mainly because the trail traverses over several high passes, both of which stand above 5,000 metres. The trek is quite long and much of the trail is at high altitude. However, the trail is well defined and no technical climbing is required. A good level of fitness is needed.
The total trek distance is 28 miles or 46 kilometres.
The Ausangate trek passes through some of the wildest and rarely hiked areas of Peru. The trail traverses the Cordillera Vilcanota – a group of mountains lying south-east of Cusco. Snow-capped peaks, low alpine valleys, stunning blue lakes and traditional Peruvian villages are just some of the things you can expect to see. The highlight is the colourful patterns that can be seen on some of the lower mountains deep into the trek.
No permit is required for the Ausangate trek.
The Ausangate trek is one of the quietest treks in the region, however, we still recommend booking at least 1 month in advance.
The trail is generally quiet throughout the year. The best time to trek is during the dry season from May to September.