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- Visit traditional herding villages nestled in the mountains
- Soak in the hot springs of Upis and Pachanta
- See a stunning waterfall and three different azure lakes
- Climb the harsh, snowy 5050m Campa pass
- Get a chance to spot endemic wildlife such as vizcachas and Andean foxes
|Max. elevation||5,200m (17,060 ft)|
|Best season||Late Spring/Summer/Early Fall|
Ausangate (6,384m) is the highest Apu (Inca sacred mountain) in Peru, revered by the Inca as the origin of life because its glaciers melt into the region’s vital rivers. Centuries ago, Inca pilgrims would hike the trails of Ausangate to pay homage, make offerings, and seek good fortune.
Today, these trails are the starting points of our 5-day trek. The area is now home to a few remote pastoral communities, which make a living herding alpacas and llamas. We will have opportunities to visit them at the beginning and end of the trek. These herders preserve a traditional way of life and have adapted to high altitudes. However, these altitudes may be problematic for first-time mountain trekkers, who will need time to acclimatize.
This trek is most appropriate for seasoned trekkers or those in good physical condition. You will need to cross four tough passes: Arapa pass (4,800m), Apuchata pass (4,900m), Palomani pass (5,200m), then finally Campa pass (5,050m). Additionally, the weather will be colder than more typical Peru locations. There won’t be Inca architecture or ruins to see, but the surreal natural scenery on the trek will make up for it.
|Day 2||Jatun Cupacocha||4,800m|
|Day 3||Ausangate Base Camp||5,200m|
|Day 5||Tinqui to Cusco||4,237m|
Day 1: Drive from Cusco to Tinqui, Trek to Upis
Arrive at the village of Tinqui (3,800m) after a 3-hour morning drive, and prepare to begin your trek. Observe local farmers and herders with their alpaca flocks, and meet your crew of mules and their handlers. Then, start heading towards the Upis (4,400m) campsite.
The first day of trekking is relatively smooth, passing through hilly puna grasslands where you may encounter vizcachas (rabbit or chinchilla-like rodents), condors, or foxes. Once you get to Upis, you will be rewarded with views of the Ausangate glaciers rising above the site. End the day with a refreshing soak at the nearby hot springs.
Day 2: Trek from Upis to Jatun Cupacocha
Get ready for a day of more intense trekking. From camp, you will climb directly through the Arapa pass (4,800m) before reaching the Uchuy Pucacocha (“little red lake”), one of the several dazzling mountain lakes in the region. Marvel at its waterfalls, and continue onwards to Jatun Pucacocha (“big red lake”), where you will camp along its shores.
Day 3: Trek from Jatun Cupachoca to Ausangate Base Camp
You will cross two different passes today, although the steady ascents will assist you in the process. The Apuchata pass (4,900m) comes first, followed by the descent to turquoise lake Ausangatecocha.
Afterward, you will reach the far side of Ausangate and hike the second pass, Palomani (5,200m). Finally, trek through the mountain-climbers’ base camp to your own campsite (4,510m). Here, amidst the highlands meadows and icy moraines, you will spend another night.
Day 4: Trek from Base Camp to Pachanta
The last day of pass crossing begins with a tranquil walk to another lake, Ticllacocha. Along the way, more vizcachas and perhaps even rare camel-like vicuñas may be roaming the green grasses of the valley.
Then, rise up for your final challenge: Campa pass (5,050m). Once you tread over the snowy scree on the slopes, past the adjacent glaciers, all you have to do is descend. Set up camp for the last time at Pachanta (4,360m), and rest in the soothing waters of the site’s hot springs.
Day 5: Trek from Panchata to Tinqui, Drive back to Cusco
After one last short hike, you will back at the Tinqui trailhead (4,237m). Bid farewell to the muleteers, and ride the bus back to Cusco after a spectacular journey.
Undertaking the Ausangate trek is best between May and September, during the dry season. Like most other treks in the region, hiking during the rainy season poses a greater challenge due to weather conditions. This is especially true for Ausangate, as due to the high altitudes, snow instead of rain will frequently fall.
However, despite the milder weather in the dry season, the area will still be relatively cold, so come prepared with layers. There should be no concerns about crowds and peak seasons, as the region is not as tourist-oriented as other more accessible sites such as Machu Picchu.
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