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Ausangate Trek: The Complete Trekker’s Guide

Embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart of the Peruvian Andes on the Ausangate Trek, a challenging yet rewarding adventure that circles the majestic Ausangate mountain, the highest peak in Cusco. This guide provides everything you need to know to conquer this incredible trek.

The Classic 4 Day Inca Trail is a more well-known hike in the area, making it more congested and scarce. Ausangate is a less traveled, off-the-beaten-path trekking option that enables you to delve into the ethereal side of an old Andean world.

The Challenge:

Planning Your Trek:

Overview

A trip to Ausangate Mountain is a journey through unspoiled nature, active history, and ages-old spirituality. This six-day climb, which is considered difficult, is only advised for experienced hikers who have previous experience hiking at high altitudes.

The Vilcanota Mountain Range, or Cordillera Vilcanota, is traversed on the trip. With a height of 20,945 feet above sea level, Ausangate is actually Peru’s fifth-tallest mountain.

You will climb and descend through the mountain range on this Peruvian hike, taking in the expansive Andean views, thermal lakes, mysterious glaciers, verdant mossy passes, and massive snow-capped summits.

You’ll see interesting species along the trip, including condors, chinchillas, and herds of vicunas.

Ausangate Trek Overview

Explore the stunning Ausangate trek, a 4 to 5-day adventure starting and finishing in Tinqui (Tinki). Covering a total distance of 70km/43 miles, this trek offers breathtaking views and challenging terrain. With an average altitude of over 4000m/13,123ft, prepare to immerse yourself in the high Andean landscape.

Reach the towering heights of Arapa Pass at 4850m/16,000ft and Palomani Pass at 5165m/17,000ft, where panoramic vistas await. These high points provide unparalleled views of the surrounding mountain ranges and valleys below.

For more trekking options around Cusco, check out our guides on the Choquequirao trek and trekking from Salkantay to Machu Picchu. Embark on an unforgettable journey through the Peruvian Andes and discover the natural wonders of this beautiful region.

Ausangate Trek: The Complete Trekker’s Guide
Ausangate Trek: The Complete Trekker’s Guide

Packing Essentials:

Trekking Options:

Possible Routes:

There are several routes for the Ausangate trek, varying in difficulty and duration. Popular options include:

Religious Importance

The mountains, known as apus, are widely adored and thought to have a spirit in Andean spirituality. In actuality, apu signifies lord in Quechua. These ferocious ghosts are said to guard the Highlands’ inhabitants.

Salkantay, Mama Simona, Pillku Urqu, Manuel Pinta, Pachatusan, Saksaywaman, Viraqochan, Pukin, and Sinqa are the other ten sacred mountains in the Cusco region.

One of the most well-known climbs in Peru is the Ausangate Trek, also known as the Apu Ausangate Road, which is thought to be the Andes’ most profound pilgrimage. This spiritual voyage usually takes place in late May or early June during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, a Quechua event that honors the stars.

Ideal Time to Visit

The Ausangate Trek and all Peruvian trekking treks are best done between May and September. Because it is the Andes’ dry season, there will be more sunshine and clearer days to enjoy the stunning scenery.

Try focusing on the driest months of the year, July or August. Since the dry season coincides with the region’s peak travel period, Machu Picchu, and the Inca Trail are frequently more crowded.

Fortunately, the uncommon Ausangate Trek is distant enough to avoid crowds year-round, even in the height of tourist season.

The Andes experience a rainy season from October to April, with January through March being the wettest time of year. Rain can fall at this time of year, particularly around February.

Additional Considerations:

Ausangate Trek Hardness

The Ausangate journey is rated as difficult, with a few easy days thrown in. The walk is rated as Grade C in terms of difficulty, implying elevations between 14,800 and 16,400 ft (4500–5000 m) and 6-7 hours of hiking per day.

Many of the days contain steep parts that result in a quick ascent of altitude. This hike is manageable for anyone with a good level of fitness, however it is advised that trekkers have prior experience with multi-day hikes at high heights.

In addition to the steep parts and passes with elevations of over 16,000 feet, there is also the weather to take into account. At higher altitudes, blizzard conditions are not unusual because the weather may be highly erratic.

Trekking: Independent vs. Guided

Only 5% of hikers complete this journey on their own. It is only feasible if you are an experienced hiker who is acclimatized, equipped with the required equipment, and has a lot of backpacking, high-elevation hiking, and managing chilly, occasionally extreme weather conditions.

We advise using a guide for this hike. A guided tour significantly improves the experience due to the knowledgeable, seasoned guides, the authentic meals prepared by local cooks, and the local porters who carry and set up the gear from campground to campsite.

Geography

The Ausangate trail winds across high elevation sceneries varying from 10,334 feet to 16,800 feet above sea level. Andean uplift, glacial valleys with hanging glaciers, Permian formations, and cretaceous limestone woods characterize the landscape surrounding the mountain.

Hikers will pass through vistas dotted with glaciers, high flatlands, thermal lakes, snow-capped mountains, and lush green valleys.

Extension of the Machu Picchu Trail

The 6-day Ausangate journey does not traditionally involve a connection to Machu Picchu. However, if you have extra time, it is surely possible to add it on. Instead of finishing day 6 at Tinki, you would continue on to Laguna Armaccocha, visit a viewpoint and lake Singrenacchocha on day 7, and climb along the river to Mallma on day 8.