At 20,900 feet, Mount Ausangate is the highest peak in the Cusco region. Considered by local trekkers to be one of the most stunning and remote treks in Peru, this six day journey makes a complete circuit around the majestic mountain. Mount Ausangate has long been considered sacred by the Andean people, source of the valuable llamas and alpacas that roam throughout Peru. Along the trek we'll pass stunning glacial lakes and rural highland villages, and soak our muscles in natural thermal waters. After the trek, continue your journey with an add-on trip to Machu Picchu or elsewhere in South America.
An early morning flight brings you to the Inca capital of Cusco, Peru where Quechua speaking descendants of the Incas move back and forth in the busy plazas and markets. Colonial churches sit atop bases of smooth stonework laid centuries before the arrival of the Conquistadors. The church walls have fallen many times throughout the years, but the Inca walls remain steadfast.
The morning is yours to explore Cusco's narrow streets and bustling markets. In the afternoon, you'll travel through Cusco's traditional markets talking to the women selling natural medicines and charms for curing heartache and other afflictions. You will visit the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco, a local organization committed to preserving the region's weaving traditions. Watch weavers demonstrate their craft and learn about the history and processes of Peru's most well-known art form.
Today is free to relax and explore on your own or with your guide. Travelers can go on a city tour of the churches and surrounding ruins, wander through Cusco's busy center, shop in local markets and just people watch in the Plaza de Armas. For those bursting with energy, horseback riding, mountain biking, or even whitewater rafting (Class III-IV) can be arranged. After a breifing with your guide about the upcoming trek the night is yours to take in some of Cusco's varied and exciting nightlife.
After breakfast meet your guide at the hotel and drive southeast of Cusco, following the Huatanay River and later the Vilcanota River. Pass the ancient Wari site of Pikillacta and the colonial villages of Andahuaylillas and Huaro. The landscape changes gradually as you climb from the lush green Vilcanota valley into the highland savannah. Here you will get your first views of Vilcanota range in the distance, with mount Ausangate and mount Jampa clearly visible.
Begin trekking at the town of Tinki, cross the Ocongateriver and start traversing the puna (highland meadows), until reaching the foot of the Ausangate where the panorama of snowcapped peaks becomes breathtaking. We will camp at Upis, where the hot springs will make it a great place to relax after the rigors of the day. Tonight’s camp is close to the thermal baths at Upis (14458 ft / 4408 m), where you will have the opportunity to bathe in the medicinal waters.
Approximate trekking distance: 6.2 miles / 6-7 hours
Up early for the first mountain pass ascent through screen slopes to cross at 4,500. While hiking scan boulders and scree slopes for the delightful viscocha, a small rodent that looks like a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel. Continue on to camp at Lake Pucacocha near the western ice‑fall of Mount Ausangate looming over our lake side camp. Take in the amazing views of snowcapped peaks over a lovely dinner.
Leave camp early, passing through grazing herds of llamas and alpacas to cross the highest pass at Palomani (15,748 ft / 4800 m). Crossing the pass stop to take in the spectacular views of the southeast mountain range, including the peaks of Mariposa and Caracol. A breathtaking panorama of the surrounding snow-capped Andes rewards us for this challenging leg of the hike. Descending towards Pampacancha (15,252 ft / 4650 m), to reach the community of Jampa before arriving to tonight’s camp at Chillca (14,615 ft / 4456 m)
Today’s trail follows the pristine shoreline of Lake Ticllacocha, towards the final pass (15,252 ft / 4650 m) among the mountains of the Vilcanota range. With luck you might spot a solitary condor, the world's largest flying bird. Continue hiking towards your camp on the beautiful blue-green Lake Q'omercocha (15,429 ft / 4704 m).
Approximate trekking distance: 7.85 miles / 7 hours
Leave camp and descend to the community of Pacchanta (13,152 ft / 4010 m). On they way you are likely to meet highland shepherds tending their sheep and alpaca, spinning and weaving their wool into cloth with the Vilcanota’s rugged peaks acting as a backdrop. There will be time to rest and bathe in picturesque natural thermal pools, surrounded by views of the massive surrounding mountains. Enjoy this last night of camping in the wilderness of Peru.
Approximate trekking distance: 4.66 miles / 5-6 hours
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!