Take on one of Peru’s best treks with our 5-day, Ausangate camping trek.

This remote trail features hot-springs, stunning mountain scenery and turquoise lakes on one of the best high altitude walking trails near Cusco.

Ausangate is truly one of Peru’s finest hiking circuits, and we’ll be camping in some high and remote areas.

Expert guides will accompany us as well as pack animals, a cook and full support team.

More on Ausangate 5-day trek

You should be fully acclimatised before starting to walk as we will be camping in Altiplano well over 4,000m/13,123ft and crossing several passes at around 5,000m/16,404ft.

Our backdrop of snow-capped peaks and spectacular scenery accompanies us around the mystical Mount Ausangate (6,350m/20,505ft).

We walk among herds of llamas and alpacas in remote native Quechua villages and appreciate the colorful clothing and daily rhythm of the local inhabitants.

With three high passes over 5,000m, spectacular glacial views, and unmolested beauty and solitude, Ausangate is a superb trip for trekkers who love a true adventure.

With luck, we can spot numerous bird species, including Andean geese and the magnificent Andean Condor. We can vary the route if you wish to include the Rainbow Mountain trek.

 



Trip Highlights

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  • Hike one of the most remote and rewarding treks near Cusco.

  • Walk among Andean villages of llama herders and farmers, where time seems to slow right down.

  • Beautiful views to some of Peru's most beautiful snow-capped peaks, glaciers and lakes.

  • Fantastic guides and support teams lead you on a life-affirming trek among nature.

  • Option to vary the route to include the Rainbow Mountain trek.

The Ausangate Trek was truly spectacular – to see no Westerners for 5 whole days, in fact to see barely a soul except for a few llama herders – well, I know that for all three of us, this was just one of the most mind-blowing and humbling experiences we’ve ever had.

It tells you all you need to know that on the last night, we tried to write a top 10 of our favourite moments and within seconds had filled a page with at least 20!

Everything just worked so perfectly, and the holiday was a fantastic combination of....trekking, wilderness, sightseeing, shopping, culture….just brilliant!



D. Waldron, Ausangate trek

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Full Itinerary

Day 1: Drive Cusco - Tinqui. Trek to Upis, camp (L,D)

Early in the morning we depart Cusco in our private bus and travel about three hours to reach the small Andean village of Tinqui at the foot of the Vilcanota Mountain Range.

We pass through several traditional villages such as Urcos, Cattca, and Ocangate along the way.

In Tinqui, we meet our pack animals and arrieros, or mule-drivers, who carry our equipment and backpacks. Our route leads us across a pampa of grassy meadows below the jagged stone flanks of Mount Ausungate (6,350m/20,505ft), the highest snow peak in Southern Peru.

After trekking for approximately six hours, with stops along the way for lunch and rest as well as time to take pictures, we arrive to the hot springs of Upis, and our first campsite.

From here, we’ll get some marvellous views of Mount Ausangate at the end of the valley.

Day 2: Upis to Lake Pukacocha via Arap Pass (4,850m) (B,L,D)

After an early and hearty breakfast, we trek for approximately 2.5 hours to get to our first pass, Arapa pass (4,850m/15,912ft).

From the pass, we enjoy wonderful views, not only of Mount Ausangate, but also of many other nearby snow-capped peaks. We continue down the corridor past a number of small, multi-coloured lagoons until we reach the largest of them, Lake Vinococha, where we have our lunch for the day.

A short walk in the afternoon brings us to the illustrious, red-coloured Lake Pucacocha, where we set up our campsite for the night.

From here, we get a dramatic, close-up view of Mount Ausangate and we may even hear some chunks of ice falling into the lake from the sides of the mountain – don’t worry though, we are not in any danger where we camp.

Day 3: Pukacocha to Uchuy Finaya, via Apuchata pass and Palomani Pass (B,L,D)

In the morning, we make a short ascent to our second pass of the trek, Apuchata Pass (4,900m/16,076ft), with the beautiful, aqua Ausangate Lagoon below.

From here, we climb to the immense Palomani Pass (5,200m/17,060ft), which is the highest pass of our journey.

We can enjoy some fantastic views of Mount Ausangate as well as the Vilcanota Mountain Range from this vantage point.

After approximately two hours of descending into the valley, we arrive to our incredibly beautiful campsite at Uchuy Finaya.

Day 4: Uchuy Finaya to Lake Minaparayoc (B,L,D)

Leaving our campsite, we begin a winding ascent alongside a widening stream until we reach the Valley of the Viscachas, named for the gorgeous furry animals that can be found here. We pass through the small community of Campa, from where we can see the fabulous snow-capped peaks of Puka Punta and Tres Picos.

Upon reaching the final pass at Q’omer Q’ocha, we have lunch among the wild vicuñas and picturesque lakes.

A short downhill walk brings us to the mystical, Lake Minaparayoc, where we camp along the shore.

Day 5: Lake Minaparayoc via hot springs to Tinqui, drive to Cusco (B,L)

Hiking down through the valley, we pass many herds of grazing llamas and alpacas until we get to hot springs of Pacchanta where we can rest and enjoy a soak in the soothing thermal water.

Relaxed and refreshed, we continue hiking back to the small village of Tinqui, where we have our lunch for the day and that is also where we catch our private transport back to Cusco, enjoying the beautiful views of the rolling Andes on our way back.


Prices From $795 / £636 per person

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What's Included?

Transport to and from the trail in private vehicle, all camping and cooking equipment including foam mats, spacious two person tents, dining, cook and toilet tent, first-aid kit, English and Spanish speaking guides, mules, cook team, and all meals as indicated.

What's Not Included?

International flights (we can look into these for you), personal belongings, sleeping bag, personal expenses and tips.


Accommodation

Camping with dining tent and toilet tent.

Tour Staff

All guides are certified, bilingual, English-speaking guides who have worked with us for many years.

Cooks, mule drivers and additional staff are all from the local, nearby communities and we have worked with them for a long time.


Meals

Vegetarians and many other dietary requirements are catered for without problems. Please let us know in advance of any requirements you have.

You wake early, usually around 07.00. Breakfast is served in a dining tent, and consists of hot drinks, porridge, toast, jams and bread, and your guide will explain the day’s trekking plans.

Lunch is usually around 13.00 and can feature soups, meats, salads and fish, with vegetarian options and hot drinks too.

The campsites are comfortable and around 17.00 hot drinks, popcorn and other snacks are served to help you recover energy.

Dinner is served around 19.30, and will feature pasta, mashed potatoes, meat, fish or vegetarian options, followed by hot drinks and a pudding.

Activity Level

We have classified this as a challenging trek, and you need to be in very good physical shape for it.

You  walk 5-8 hours a day for 4 consecutive days, over rugged mountain trails at high elevations

There are several high altitude passes to cross at 5,000m/16,404ft in Ausangate.

Pre-trip preparation should include challenging cardiovascular exercise (including regular hikes on varied terrain) and a healthy, balanced diet.

Well-worn hiking boots and additional acclimatisation nights in Cusco (3-4) before the trek are both highly recommended.

All trekkers are encouraged to hike at their own pace, taking breaks whenever needed, to ensure a successful and enjoyable trek for all.

Most people go to bed fairly early after a long day trekking, to recover energy for the morning.

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Practical Information

Introduction to Peru

Peru is the perfect holiday destination for adventure travellers that want an amazing variety of activity, geography and cultural travel experiences.

The breadth of travel experiences in Peru is breathtaking – from trekking in the Andes to Machu Picchu to the tropical jungle of the Amazon, and plenty in between.

The people of Peru make it a special destination too, with its colourful and traditional street life and friendly locals.

Geography of Peru

Peru is made up of 3 distinct geographical areas: the coast, the mountains and the jungle.

The costa or coastal region is a narrow ribbon of desert 2,250 km long, crossed by fertile river valleys flowing from the Andes. It takes up 11% of the country and holds more than 40% of the population.

The cold Humboldt current gives rise to a blanket of mist – the garua – which hangs above coastal cities like the capital Lima from May to November.

Heading east, you’re soon climbing above the garua and into the Andes. The sierra, or mountainous region, covers some 25% of Peru’s territory and contains 50% of the population. The sierra inhabitants are mainly Indigenous or Mestizo, and many still speak Quechua or Aymara.

The sierra contains dozens of 6,000-metre snow peaks and volcanoes, including Huascaran (6,768m) the highest mountain in the tropics. The deep valley basins contain most of the towns and arable land; the terracing and canal systems of the Incas and pre-Incas are often still used today.

The eastern Andes are heavily forested up to 3,350m and sweep down into the Amazon Basin.

Peru’s selva or jungle makes up almost two thirds of the country’s area, but holds only about 6% of the population: the only towns with significant populations are Iquitos and Pucallpa.

 

Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.

 

Overview

When planning for the varied climatic conditions encountered, layering is the most practical and versatile clothing system.  It’s worth remembering that our clothing keeps us warm by retaining and isolating the heat we ourselves create.

To best maintain body heat, several layers of lightweight, warm and quick-drying clothing are far more efficient than one or two thick layers. Layers should have the following qualities:

 

  1. Breathability (able to wick away the humidity produced by sweat):
  2. Isolation (able to keep in the warm air our body produces); and
  3. Impermeability (able to impede the passing of wind and water).

 

First (base) layer: This layer wicks the sweat away from our skin, thus helping keep the body dry and warm. To this end, synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene should be used.

Mid layers: These isolating layers should also be synthetic (e.g. the known polar linings such as polartec or windblock, which are light and insulate twice as well as wool). Very important layers for retaining body heat.

Outer layer / shell: Finally, the vital layer which protects us from climatic adversities. A breathable, wind-proof and waterproof anorak, such as Goretex.

Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.

We also carry an extensive first aid kit & oxygen on all trips, but these are generally for emergencies only.

Below is a more detailed kit list.

 

Detailed kit list

  • 2 pairs synthetic inner socks (e.g. polypropylene, thermastat, coolmax) and 2 pairs thick loop-stitch/wool socks for cold.
  • Trekking boots – should be well broken-in, waterproof and provide good ankle support.
  • Trainers/sandals for city-wear, evenings at lower camps & river crossings.
  • Base layer leggings (1 pair).
  • Thick fleece leggings (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Goretex-type over-trousers (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Trekking trousers (2 pairs).
  • Shorts – wear sparingly in early stages at altitude, as sun burns.
  • Thermal base layer shirts (2).
  • Microfleece mid-layer shirt (1).
  • Shirt/t-shirt 1 or 2 for lower altitudes. Long-sleeved, collared shirt protects against sun
  • Fleece jacket or similar (1).
  • Warm jacket (down or synthetic). For camp and upper slopes.
  • Waterproof Goretex-type jacket.
  • Broad-brimmed sunhat, essential.
  • Warm hat, fleece or wool. (N.B. Up to 30% of body heat can be lost through the head).
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • Scarf for cold.
  • Bandanna – to protect neck from strong sun.
  • Light inner gloves
  • Warm gloves, e.g. fleece, and outer waterproof gloves or mittens (1 pair)
  • Mittens allow you to keep the fingers together, and better conserve heat (though they also make it difficult to perform certain tasks).
  • Daypack (at least 30 litres). Comfortable and with waterproof lining or cover.
  • Large rucksack or suitcase.
  • Pair of telescopic trekking poles (can be rented).
  • Duffel bag or large rucksack for extra clothing, carried by horse/mule/porter while you are trekking.
  • Sleeping bag (3-4 season, can be rented).
  • Water bottle (2 litres approx.) & purification tablets.
  • Personal first-aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, anti-biotic cream, general antibiotics (ask your GP), after-bite (tiger balm), anti-diarrhoea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Towel & wash-kit.
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Toilet paper (1)
  • Sunscreen (factor 30+) and lip salve.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries).
  • Penknife.
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Plastic bags – ‘Zip-loc’ & tough bin liners.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!). Print & slide film is available locally. Polarising filter is recommended for SLR cameras.
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other for free time.
  • Binoculars.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Extra snacks i.e. cereal bars or favourite chocolate bars.

All other non-personal trekking camping gear e.g. tents, cutlery etc is provided.

 

Miscellaneous others

  • Money belt.
  • Passport.
  • U.S. dollars cash, mixed-denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • ATM cash/credit card.
  • Any inoculation certificates.
  • Personal & medical insurance certificates.
  • Presents e.g. Postcards from home.
  • Comfortable clothes for travel, smart clothes for night life.

Fitness

In order to get the most out of a trek we classify as ‘moderate‘, you should be in good physical condition.

It is not easy to grade the fitness level required for any trek, since it is a subjective matter.

However, for treks classified as moderate, expect to trek 5-7 hours per day carrying only your day-pack, with several long ascents and descents.

Altitude

Being at altitude, especially in the tropics, is usually a pleasure as it isn’t so hot, there are few insects and the air is clear.

However, when gaining altitude, air pressure drops and the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs is reduced. Although we build plenty of acclimatisation time into our itineraries, certain ill-effects are possible. Nevertheless, all of these can be minimised or prevented if care is taken.

On reaching heights above 2,500m (approx. 8,200 ft), especially when ascent has been straight from sea level, heart pounding, mild headache and shortness of breath are normal, especially on exertion.

Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a syndrome known locally as soroche, whose symptoms can include of bad headache, dizziness and nausea).

To avoid AMS, you should:

  • Rest for a few hours on arrival at altitude and take it easy for the first couple of days. Note: you may feel fine on arrival and tempted to exert yourself as normal. Don’t be fooled: you might be benefiting from oxygen brought in your blood from sea level.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (altitude is a diuretic). Coca tea (mate de coca) helps alleviate symptoms.
  • Eat light meals, with high carbohydrate and low fat and protein content. Dine early, allowing digestion time pre-sleep.
  • Avoid over-exposure to the strong highland sun (UV rays are very powerful) – especially in the early stages – making sure you wear a broad brimmed sunhat. Apply lip-salve to prevent chapped lips.
  • Avoid or minimise consumption of cigarettes and alcohol. Avoid sleeping pills.
  • If you do get AMS: Rest, take non-aspirin painkillers (for headache) and coca tea. Symptoms should subside after a day or two.
  • Pregnant women, people with a history of heart, lung, kidney or blood disease or blood pressure problems, should consult their doctor before traveling to high altitude.

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

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