The Ausangate Trek without guide is a 70-kilometer, high-altitude trek in the Peruvian Andes near Cusco, with an average altitude of more than 4000 meters. Ausangate, unlike most other tours in the region, does not feature Inca ruins; instead, it is characterized by breathtaking scenery, including snow-capped peaks, glaciers, colorful mountain lakes, and Rainbow Mountain. If you enjoy hiking, beautiful nature, and venturing off the beaten path, this walk is for you.
Ausangate is one of the most challenging treks in the Cusco area and the most scenically rewarding. Read this article if you have any doubts about hiking Ausangate on your own; we trust it will help you decide whether to do a guided or unguided trek for more information on our favorite Peruvian treks.
The trek begins in Tinqui, a small village 100 kilometers from Cusco.
Getting here by public transport from Cusco is a breeze. Modern Coliseo Cerrado is close to Terminal Paradero Livitaca, which is easily located on Google Maps and is located near Terminal Paradero Livitaca. The ticket costs 10 Sol/$3 and takes approximately 2.5 hours.
The trek itself is quite difficult, requiring excellent physical fitness and acclimatization. In actuality, the entire route is above 4000m, with two passes exceeding 5000m. Therefore, we recommend beginning with one of the simpler treks, such as Salkantay or Choquequirao. We particularly enjoyed the trek’s absence of tourists and other people; on some days, we encountered only two local shepherds.
With purification tablets or a Lifestraw, drinking water is not an issue; there are numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways. Tablets are ineffective against alpaca and sheep excrement, so exercise caution around them.
To avoid getting lost, we recommend asking every individual you meet for directions and carrying a GPS or compass. If you encounter a group with a guide, it will be much simpler for you to navigate.
We attempted to begin our day as early as possible but were unsuccessful. We boarded a bus to Tinqui at 9.30, and it took less time to get there than we anticipated. We bypassed the town and went directly to the trail, paid the 10 Sol/$3 entrance fee, and began strolling. Due to the altitude, approximately 4000 meters, it was quite difficult to travel, and backpacks felt heavier than
usual. About 3 kilometers prior to Upis, the weather deteriorated; it became gusty and began to rain; and we decided to camp there.
Ausangate, the highest point in the Upis region’s snowy (we stopped there the next morning, nothing special but might be nice to relax on the first day)
Some of the ascent wasn’t particularly steep, but at that altitude and with our packs on, it was quite a challenge.
The route from Upis (4100m) to Arapa Pass (4850m) to Puca Cocha Lake (4600m)
We set out at 8:00, and after an hour of walking down the road (not the most pleasant portion of the journey), we arrived in Upis. The trail eventually veers away from the road after Upis, allowing us to take in the peace and beauty of the surrounding mountains in relative isolation. The trail is well-defined and simple to follow over this section. In 2 hours, we climbed to the top of Arapa Pass (4850m). The first lake is roughly 30-40 minutes downhill from the pass’s summit. An overlook (Mirador) along the lake is a relaxing spot to have a picnic.
Numerous vicunas were spotted near the lake. (similar to llamas and alpacas but wild and very shy). The journey begins at Puca Cocha, often spelled Puqa Qocha, the first of several lakes of varying hues and sizes. Water from the glacier flows into the first lake, which flows into the second lake, which flows into the third lake, etc. until the water eventually returns to the glacier.
Getting from Puca Cocha (4600 m) to Puca Cocha Pass (5051 m) to Ananta (4400m)
Once again, you’ll have to climb steeply to reach Puca Cocha Pass, where you’ll get your first glimpses of the multihued mountains that surround you, dominated by red. You’ll also likely spot several viscachas, or mountain rabbits, which are native to Peru and Bolivia but are elusive and difficult to photograph because of their speed and shyness. You can set up a tent at the campsite if you get there before noon. You can leave your bag there and make a day trip to Rainbow Mountain. It will get you out the door faster in the morning.
Day 4 is for those who aren’t interested in making the hike to Rainbow Mountain. Instead of climbing up to the pass from Puca Cocha, hikers can continue along the lakes and set up camp around Ausangate Lake. The scenery along this route is stunning, too.
The route begins at Ananta (4400 meters), continues through Ananta Pass (4500 meters), descends into the Vinicunca valley (4300 meters), ascends Rainbow Mountain (5,000 meters), and then returns to Ananta (4400 meters) via the Ausangate lake. (4300m)
The trip from Ananta to Rainbow Mountain is quite strenuous, consisting primarily of steep ascents and descents, and takes a whole day. It’s convenient because you can set up camp and return for your gear at your leisure. Please remember to bring your valuables with you.
You should leave Cusco early in the morning to beat the day trippers to the summit. Also, all that climbing and descending means that today will be a very long one. Seeing Rainbow Mountain in person is an unforgettable experience, no matter how many images you’ve seen of it. Since much of the return journey is downhill, it is easier and faster.
The journey from Ausangate Lake (4300m) through Palomani Pass (5200m) to Jutumpata (4400m)
The hike’s highest point is at Palomani Pass, at 5200m, and it’s a lengthy, steep climb from the campsite. The vistas are breathtaking from up there. Take a moment now and then to turn around and take in the breathtaking panorama of the valley and pink mountains.
High altitude and a hefty pack make the ascent arduous. So, take it easy and get plenty of sleep. You’re bound to succeed eventually. Fortunately, the climb itself provides several opportunities for rest stops, so you can take in the sights. You know the climb was well worth it the second you reach the summit and gaze down the other side of the pass.
Pink lake, multicolored mountains, and massive glaciers make for a breathtaking panorama. It’s very hard to choose where to look first! At the peak of the pass, we stopped for lunch before beginning our descent into the valley below. The descent is somewhat steep, taking you all the way down to the valley of Jutumpata and its pink lake and river.
Jutumpata (4400m) – Qampa Pass (5000m) – Pacchanta village (4100m) – Tinqui (4000m)
The previous night was extremely cold, so when we awoke, everything, including our tent, was covered in snow, and it looked magnificent. We needed some steaming coffee to warm up immediately.
The final ascent to the Qampa pass is accompanied by more colorful lakes, alpacas, and chinchillas. From the summit, you begin descending to the valley past several aquamarine lakes; you can cool off in one of them, but the water is icy! After approximately 5 hours, we arrived at the Pacchanta village.
Pacchanta has hot springs; if you are exhausted and no longer feel like walking, you can remain here, relax in the springs, and continue to Tinki the following day. Optionally, you can take a municipal bus to Tinki; the trail follows the dirt road to the town. To return to Cusco, board a bus from Tinqui’s main square; the trip takes 2 hours and thirty minutes.
The parking area is about a mile and a half from Vinicunca, and there are many tours that run buses to and from Cusco every day, so you should be able to find affordable, comfortable, and direct transportation both ways.
Even if, after having seen it once, I prefer the rest of the Ausangate trip’s environment, starting and ending your trip at Vinicunca is a fantastic idea because you can buy a celebration Inca Kola and Snickers at the peak.
On this trip, you should try to carry as little as possible in your backpack. Without a guide, you’ll have to lug around all of your gear while you ascend steep mountain passes.
Making every piece of equipment count is crucial because the impacts of altitude are amplified while carrying a bigger load. You can store your extra belongings at the hostel in Cusco.
On multiple trips, Hospedaje Turistic Recoleta provided me with free storage for almost as many days as I stayed at their hostel. The owners were wonderful, and the hostel was a perfect place to stay while learning how to travel on one’s own. The following is a list of the bare necessities for this hike; if you bring anything more, you should really consider why.
Only experienced backpackers and thru-hikers should attempt this journey without the proper equipment.
Equipment of a Different Nature:
In the articles linked below, you’ll find some of the gear I use and that is common among modern lightweight hikers.
Nine Items You Need for a Day Hike That Aren’t Listed Elsewhere
Is it necessary to bring a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat on this hike?
Totally on my own for this hike. An experienced traveler may not even require a tent if they take the time to carefully organize their campsites. Along the way, you can rest at a few lodges marked on maps like this one. This hike is unlike others in the region because it is quite unlikely that you will be able to find a campsite or hut where you may sleep inside on beds and linens.
Meals & Food
If I haven’t already addressed this, I will now: yes, you will need to bring all the food you intend to eat on this journey with you. You won’t be able to restock, and you probably won’t be able to find a hut along the way that provides food, either.
Food Shopping in Cusco
The area around the San Pedro Market is where I did most of my grocery shopping. Backpackers have given me the heads-up on where to find cheap nuts and dried fruit. Fresh cheeses that can withstand the trip’s chilly weather can be found in the market as well. Chocolate and granola are just two examples of the packaged goods available at the market.
Additionally, coca tea, candies, and leaves are readily available all throughout this market and work well to counteract the effects of altitude that you’ll face on this trek. Next to the San Pedro Market, you can find an Orion which is a South American grocery store. I used this to stockpile my North American favorites including Oreos, Ritz, and Snickers.
The Snickers cost only 2.7 soles or about $.66 cents in American currency. If you’ve bought these in the United States for one dollar each, you got a great deal.
is probably one of the most beautiful and complete trails that Cusco has, there is 55 km in total that you can do in 4 or 5 days, along this hike you can see turquoise lagoons, glaciers, llamas, alpacas running, chinchillas, and the imposing snowy ausangate with an altitude of 6385 meters above sea level.
It is one of the best experiences to connect with nature and its enigma.
The perfect combination is to do this trekking with the famous mountain of 7 colors where you will spend 5, 6, and 7 incredible days.
AUSANGATE TREK PREPARATION
without any doubt, the best recommendation is to do physical exercises before doing this trekking running ravines, going up and down hills if you have it in your country, or running at least 10 km per day, and thus be prepared to not have problems, and for people who suffer from the heart is not recommendable to do it because this trail is the highest in Cusco.
To be able to acclimatize is good to be in Cusco for 1 day or 2 days, and the other option is to start your plans from Arequipa, Puno, and then come more acclimatized to Cusco and be better adapted to the altitude.
BEST TIME TO HIKE AUSANGATE TREK
the best time for hiking is between the months of April to September, with very sunny days and perfect for taking good pictures and seeing the mountains more clearly in all their glory these months are the high season, and the months of October to March are the months of the rainy season and there are companies that still offer this trail and is not recommended because during the day is cloudy with rain and the road is slippery.
WEATHER ON AUSANGATE TRAIL
The weather in the Andes is very unpredictable because of the geography that we have, in the Ausangate trek trail during the day are sunny days so you will need to use sunscreen, and during the night can reach temperatures below 0 degrees.
in general, is to have Good trekking equipment to not have problems with the cold and heat and it is always necessary to have enough water to drink, the recommendation is to have 2 liters per person to avoid dehydration.
CHOOSING AUSANGATE TREK
The Ausangate trail is divided into two well-marked categories: short (2-4 days) and long (5-7 days) with colorful mountains. If you have time, we recommend that you choose a 5-7 day route. This option is the most complete because in this trail you will be able to visit beautiful lagoons the snow-capped Ausangate and the incredible mountain of colors.
Also known as small Ausangate Treks, these shorter trails are intended to offer hikers a sort of “best of” sample of the Ausangate region in a shorter period of time. These routes usually focus on Lake Puca Cocha, the Ausangate glacier, and the Arco Iris mountain is somewhat complete.
The longer treks will take you through mountains and places that are rarely seen by hikers, a complete circuit so you can appreciate some of the high peaks from multiple angles and take amazing pictures. During the day you will see breathtaking views of glaciers and during the night, the Milky Way at its best from 4,000 meters to 5,200 meters.
INCREDIBLE VIEWS EVERY DAY?
For people who love to take pictures, this amazing trail will give you incredible gifts of turquoise lagoons, snow-capped mountains, llamas, alpacas, and the popular colorful mountain
WHERE TO LEAVE THE LUGGAGE DURING THE TREK?
Different hotels have a place to leave your luggage when you go out for a day trip, the other option is to leave it at the GO TREKS PERU office and when you come back you can pick it up without any problem.
HOW HARD IS AUSANGATE TREK?
The main reason Ausangate is considered difficult is that the entire hike is at a high altitude. This route is probably not suitable for novice hikers. It is considered one of the most difficult, however, if you have done other treks before you should have no problem.
RENTING TREKKING AND CAMPING GEAR FOR AUSANGATE TREK IN CUSCO
there are many places to rent in Cusco, the best option is to rent around the square and the best known for quality and price is the famous speedy Gonzales that is on Procuradores Street.
Put your smartphone on airplane mode. no phone signal and to save battery life.
Drink enough water, it is very important to hydrate yourself as we will be walking at 4000 masl and during this trek, there are streams where you can recharge water and important to have purifying tablets is important when walking at high altitudes.
Be very attentive to the weather. Conditions can change for hours at high altitudes in the Andes. Always have warm layers and waterproof layers on hand. This is especially important when climbing and traversing high passes.
Carry a first aid kit, an equipment repair kit, and a blister treatment kit in your backpack, but we have them too.
Carry a good amount of your favorite sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses, and wear a buffalo to protect your head and neck and help block the wind.
This hike is not recommended for children because they may have trouble walking, but if your child enjoys hiking at high altitudes, you can do it.
The higher altitude also means colder, near-freezing temperatures, so be prepared. If you decide to hike for several days, be sure to bring very warm clothing.
The best time to visit Rainbow Mountain will be in the morning or early afternoon, just after sunrise or before sunset.
Do not go to Rainbow Mountain in the afternoon during the rainy season because of the lighting. Due to the high concentration of minerals. There is a high probability of being affected by lighting.