Ausangate Trek Information

Ausangate Trek Information

Ausangate Trek Information

Peru is famous for being home to many exhilarating treks. Though not as popular as some of the other trails accessible from Cusco, the Ausangate trek is just as worthwhile. In fact, being less crowded with tourists is part of its charm. It guarantees travelers who venture on this remote journey a more unique experience. While you won’t come across Incan ruins, it makes up for it with breathtaking natural scenery and spiritual significance. Spot spectacular snow-capped peaks, gorgeous lakes, and wonderful wildlife, including herds of llamas and alpacas. The centerpiece of the trek is the mighty Apu Ausangate, one of the tallest mountains in Peru.
Before embarking on the Ausangate trek, it is important to know what to expect. This will help you decide whether this trek is best suited for you. Firstly, it’s useful to compare Ausangate to other trekking options in the Cusco area. Ausangate does not conclude at Machu Picchu, making it less crowded compared to other treks. This means it is ideal for travelers looking to get off the beaten path.

Most tour companies recommend at least 5 days for the trek, or 6 if visiting Rainbow Mountain. The average elevation during the hike is 13,000 feet (4,000 m). Thus, it’s important to give yourself sufficient time to complete the trek. Taking some time to rest will decrease your chances of getting altitude sickness. Because of these challenges, previous experience hiking at altitude is recommended.


• Length: 4-6 days
• Distance: 43 miles (73 km)
• Highest altitude: Palomani Pass – 17,000 ft (5,165 m)
• Average altitude: 13,123 ft (4,000 m)
• Elevation Gain: 9,406 ft (2,867 m)
• Difficulty: Challenging

 

Comparing with Other Treks

The Ausangate trek doesn’t end at Machu Picchu. If you want to combine a trek with a visit to the ancient citadel, consider one of the treks to Machu Picchu. The most popular are the Inca Trail, Salkantay, and Lares treks. That being said, there are several other reasons visitors choose to hike the Ausangate trek. Especially those who have already seen Peru’s World Wonder, or travelers aiming to avoid the large crowds.

Unlike the Inca Trail, there is no permit needed for Ausangate. It is thus much easier to organize and does not require booking months in advance.
Ausangate is not as popular as other treks in Cusco, meaning fewer tourists can be found on the trails. You are guaranteed a more tranquil experience, even during the high-season from June to August.
Ausangate gives you the unique opportunity to explore Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountain. Vinicunca is not included on other treks and normally must be visited on a day trip from Cusco.

How Long is the Trek?

The recommended length of this trek is 5 days. This gives you enough time to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It also accounts for time to rest; in case you are suffering from symptoms of altitude sickness. Adding a visit to the Rainbow Mountain will require an extra day, making it a total of 6 days. If you are short on time, some tour companies organize a 4-day Ausangate + Rainbow Mountain trek. This shortened trail takes you back to Cusco after visiting the Rainbow Mountain.

Difficulty

Ausangate is considered to be a hard trek. It is important to consider the challenges carefully before embarking on your trip.

While the hike itself is comparable to other Andean treks, the average altitude is over 13,000 feet (4000 m) above sea level. Lower oxygen levels at this elevation can trigger altitude sickness and shortness of breath. There are a total of four steep passes to cross measuring up to 17,000 ft (5,182 m). Previous experience hiking at high altitude is highly recommended.
Located in a very remote area, it can be difficult to navigate the trail. To avoid getting lost, hiking with a professional guide is suggested for all but the most seasoned adventurers.

Trail Highlights

The Ausangate trek is different to other treks, mostly because it does not offer a visit to Machu Picchu. Nor does it visit other Incan ruins. Instead, its highlights are natural attractions, including glaciers, colorful lakes, and precious wildlife. Being so close to Rainbow Mountain, it even offers trekkers a chance to visit this popular attraction. In addition, you will encounter remote Andean villages that still retain their traditions. Read more below about the highlights of hiking the Ausangate trek.

Apu Ausangate

For the Incas, mountains served as a connection between the middle and the upper worlds. Important mountains were called “Apus“, named after protective spirits they believed to live inside them. Apu Ausangate is the tallest peak of the Vilcanota Mountain Range in the Cusco region. It is also the fifth tallest mountain in Peru, measuring 20,940 ft (6,384 m). Though the trek does not take you to the top, you will get unrivaled views of its majestic, snowy peak.

Glaciers and Lakes

Apu Ausangate’s nickname is “Creator of the Waters” because of its many glaciers. They are the source of several lakes and rivers that supply water to other parts of the country. For example, the Vilcanota River goes on to feed the famous Amazon River. Thus, Ausangate has a special significance for Peruvians to this day. On the trek, you will come across gorgeous lakes, each of which with its own unique color. The colors range from green to blue, turquoise, and even red.

Rainbow Mountain

One of the biggest attractions of Ausangate Trek is a chance to visit the famous Rainbow Mountain. Mineral rock sediments found in the sandstone give this mountain its iconic colors. While not on the trail itself, a visit can be easily arranged on a one-day detour. See the day-by-day itinerary below for more details on how to incorporate it into your trek.

Climate

There are two distinct seasons, the dry season from June to August, and the rainy season from November to March. During the dry season it is very hot and sunny during the day. However, temperatures decrease rapidly after sunset and can drop to below freezing at night.
The rainy season coincides with summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Therefore, nighttime temperatures are slightly warmer, though it can still get quite chilly. Rain comes in hard and heavy burts, often several times a day. This also makes the valleys much greener than during the dry season.
The remaining months form the shoulder season, which is mostly dry, but with a few afternoon showers. Despite these general patterns, the weather in the Andes is unpredictable. It can be rainy or sunny on any day of the year, and thus it is always best to be prepared.

Weather

Dry Season – June to August
Daytime: 64℉ (18℃)
Nighttime: 28℉ (-2℃)
Should Season – April to May & September to October
Daytime: 64℉ (18℃)
Nighttime: 35℉ (2℃)

Rainy Season – November to March
Daytime: 64℉ (18℃)
Nighttime: 39℉ (4℃)

Best Time to Trek

Most travelers choose to trek during the dry season, from June to August. During these months you can expect sunny, yet cool days and very cold nights. The ideal weather conditions attract hordes of visitors to Cusco. Yet, even during the busy season, Ausangate remains much less crowded than the other treks in the region.
Hiking in the shoulder season, from April to May and September to October, is a good option. Crowds and prices fall, yet the weather remains pleasant. Most days are generally sunny with a few light showers in the afternoon.
Few travelers decide to trek during the rainy season. From November to March, it can often rain heavily for hours at a time. For those who don’t mind getting wet, temperatures are slightly warmer at night and crowds are almost non-existent.

Trekking in February is not recommended because excessive rainfall can create bad hiking conditions on the trails. This can even lead to potentially dangerous mudslides. Peruvian authorities often close the trails and carry out maintenance on them.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is a common health concern for Andean trekkers, and for good reason. The average elevation of the Ausangate trek is very high at 13,123 ft (4,000 m). This means it is something to take seriously before setting off on your hike. Read more to find out what altitude sickness is, what are the most common symptoms, and how to prevent it.
What to Pack
The weather in the Andes can be unpredictable. Bringing the right clothing and gear will prepare you for any weather conditions you might encounter. Some electronics will be useful to document your trip, while others are best left at home, or at your Cusco hotel. In case of injury, it’s always essential to bring a well-equipped first aid kit. Read the suggested packing list below to get an idea of what to take with you on the Ausangate trek.

When you decide to hike the Ausangate you must to pack the following items

Clothing

  •  Long sleeve hiking shirt
  •  Hiking pants
  •  Thermal shirt and pants for sleeping
  •  Impermeable raincoat
  •  Underwear
  •  Warm socks
  •  Gloves
  •  Hat
  •  Sports bra for ladies
  •  Sunglasses Gear
  •  Backpack – minimum 30 L
  •  Rainproof backpack cover
  • Water bottle
  •  Zip-lock bags for storing money and documents
  •  Hiking poles – recommended
  • Sleeping bag (can be rented from trekking company)

Electronics

  •  Camera
  •  SD card
  •  Phone
  •  Flashlight/headlamp
  • Spare battery back
  •  Headphones

First Aid Kit

  •  Paracetamol
  •  Diamox (for altitude sickness)
  •  Imodium
  • Antiseptic cream
  •  Band-aids

Toiletries

  •  Travel towel
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  •  Deodorant
  •  Soap
  •  Toilet paper
  •  Hand sanitizer
  •  Sunscreen
  •  Lip balm