The trek to the snow-capped Ausangate, is one of the most exciting experiences in walking routes in the department of Cusco. This mountain is the highest in all the Vilcanota mountain range and is located at 6,392 m.a.s.l, on the route you can see beautiful lagoons of different colors, due to the minerals that exist throughout this area. The walk to the Ausangate snow is an indescribable adventure because of the impressive sunsets that make this trip unforgettable.The Ausangate mountain is located in the heart of the Vilcanota mountain range. It is one of the highest mountains in Peru. It is considered by many the most beautiful mountain in this part of the Andes. Although is located at 5 hours by car from Cusco, its snow-covered is visible from many parts of the city. The Ausangate Trek or Ausangate Hike offers a true wildlife experience, and is the most challenging hike offered in the Cusco region. This is a great walk for nature lovers, you can observe a lot of wildlife. The landscape in this part of Peru is very impressive: snow-capped white peaks and bright blue and green lagoons are just some of the scenic highlights. There is also a cultural element for this Ausangate trek, as it passes through several isolated Andean communities where the way of life has changed little since the reign of the Incas.During the time of the empire of the Incas, the Ausangate Meant one of the most important divinities for the people of that time. Its steep spurs and extreme walls of ice and rock made this mountain a true "unattainable God". Rating that lasts even these days; People who live in its surroundings consider it sacred and those who can approach during a trek or see the world from its summits discover the enigmatic charm of this six thousand located in the south of the city of Cusco, on the Vilcanota mountain range. An option for those who want to get away from the great masses of tourists in Cusco and ascend an Inca divinity of moderate difficulty. The tradition is still maintained: every year (Between May and June) the festival of Qoyllur Riti (star of the snows) is celebrated, which is an amalgam between the Catholic religion and the Andean ancestry. Thousands of pilgrims come to the foothills of the snowy Qolkke Punku, where the tradition indicates that large blocks of ice are carried home, not before passing through a rock where the figure of a Catholic Jesus is drawn at 4900 m. All under the tutelage of the "Apu" (sacred mountain). The Ausangate Trek is not as popular as the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek, but certainly a great option for the more experienced hiker with special interest in the nature and culture of Peru. The popular Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca part of the Ausangate walk and is at the foot of the Ausangate.
Day 01: Cusco - Ocongate - Tinki
Day 02: Tinki - Upis - Hot Springs
Day 03: Hot Springs - Pucaqocha Lagoon
Day 04: Pucaqocha Lagoon - Palomani Pass - Jampa Valley
Day 05: Jampa Valley - Pachaspata - Qomercocha Lagoon
Day 06: Qomercocha Lagoon - Pacchanta
Day 07: Pacchanta - Tinki - Cusco
Guardian of the Cusco region, Ausangate is the fifth highest mountain in Peru with its 6,384 meters of height. For centuries it has received many names, the best known being 'The Roof of the Inca Capital' and 'Vinicunca', which means 'Hill of Colors'. Located in the district of Pitumarca (in the province of Canchis - Cusco region, in the south of the country), Ausangate is considered the most important mountain of the Andean cosmovision. And although it is also one of the most beautiful, it is one of the least known abroad.During recent years, attempts to climb the Ausangate have increased, many of them by the normal route that runs on the south side and that is quite complex since it demands inclined climbs on ice. However, the mountain has been opened routes on all sides, all highly technical. Its name means "copper" in Quechua and is still considered a sacred mountain by local people. In fact, it is still one of the most important pilgrimage centers for the descendants of the Incas.
It is located in the mountain range of the Andes, in a section denominated Cordillera de Vilcanota, corresponding to the Cusco region in Peru. Its main peak is 6,384 meters above sea level with large lagoons with a bright green / blue color.
The Vilcanota mountain range is led by the majestic Apu Ausangate which, with its 6,372 m. of altitude, it is often visible from the Sacsayhuaman fortress in the upper part of the city of Cusco. To get to the mountain range, it is necessary to take a bus or truck from Cusco to the town of Ocongate . From there, following the difficult road that arrives at Puerto Maldonado, you arrive at the town of Tinqui.The route to travel the eighty kilometers that includes the return to the Ausangate takes 7 days and it can be done walking or riding. The circuit has a series of attractions that make it one of the tourist areas with the greatest potential for trekking and climbing in Peru. The beautiful snow-capped mountains, the turquoise glacial lagoons, the ice caverns and the thermal waters add to the possibility of alternating with friendly and kind peasants of small hamlets. The route goes back two steps of height, one of 5.100 m.a.s.l., so it is necessary to have a previous and adequate acclimatization in the city of Cusco.
The agriculture is intensive and concentrates on the production of a great variety of tubers, among which the oca and the potato stand out. Numerous animals as American camelids: llamas, vicuñas, alpacas, among others can be seen along the entire route, printing a unique touch in the local landscape.
In the Inca mythology of this mountain and the nearby lakes among which Sibinacocha stands out the masculine energy that fertilizes Mother Earth Pachamama is born; After a long course, the waters are lost in the unknown lands of the Amazon to return, to fill the lakes and glaciers every night converted into the river of stars or Willkamayu known in the West as the Milky Way. The Community of Chillca constituted by shepherds of llamas and alpacas is known as the guardian of these pristine places, from where you can make mountain walks spending the night in comfortable hostels or tambos, among which Machuracay Tambo stand out, in a trek called " Path of the Apu Ausangate ". Every year on the north side of the Ausangate, the festival of Qoyllur Rit'i (Quechua: "star snow") has been held since time immemorial before the feast of Corpus Christi, during which thousands of Quechua pilgrims go to the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i in the temple of Sinakara (painting done on a rock). This pilgrimage was included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Built in the 17th century, its structure is made of lime and stone, and it also forms the shape of a semicircular arch, mounted on its solid walls of natural rocks. The bridge is located on the Pitumarca river; adjacent to the bridge you can see the bases of an Inca bridge and another one of rails from the time of the republic. This bridge usually fulfilled its function, for many years giving way to the first engines that function with coal that arrived from Arequipa to Cusco.
Beautiful colonial monument built in the seventeenth century. Its construction is made of adobe and double water roof, also a square tower. Its interior is of a single nave, therefore the enclosure, both exterior and interior, presents remains of mural painting, therefore they have themes, such as the face of the Immaculate Virgin, which possesses Romantic and Byzantine evocations. Therefore they are, canvases belonging to the cusquenian pictorial school, also having Diego Quispe Tito as the main artist. According to some historians, the construction of this church takes 50 years. Its altar is made of fine carved wood and covered in delicate gold leaf. They usually highlight its numerous altarpieces of three bodies and three streets, of Renaissance style. This temple has the particularity, like owning the image of the Immaculate Conception, oldest of Cusco and probably of America. This image is of Romanesque style with Byzantine influences. Among other elements that stand out from the temple, there is the image of the Pieta, in the central niche of the altar, the image of San Miguel, with flaming sword in one of the beams, of the presbytery plus a carving of the communion rail, with the images, of the twelve apostles in golden wood, and polychrome.
We leave the city of Cusco in the morning and take the local bus and will drive along the Cusco - Puerto Maldonado towards Tinki (3,800m / 12,467ft). On the way we will stop at Urcos to take some pictures of the colorful market. In continuation we will go to Cattca, an agricultural and livestock community, where we can enjoy a spectacular view of the region. After passing through Ausangate, the capital of the region, we arrived in Tinki after about six hours on the bus. In Tinki, we slept in a local shelter and started the walk the next morning.
After our delicious breakfast, we will go away from the town of Tinki starting the walk along the Ocongate river and we will start to cross the puna (mountain meadows), until we reach the foot of the Ausangate mountain. From here we have an impressive view of the beautiful peaks of mountain which makes our trip more extraordinary. We continue to the town of Upis to enjoy the thermal baths is a great place to relax after the rigors of the day.
After breakfast we will start a continuous ascent until you reach the Abra Arapa (4,850 meters / 15,912 feet). In the afternoon, continue through the valley, passing the green Puqa Q'ocha Lake and arriving at the turquoise-colored Jatun Puqa Q'ocha (4,800 meters / 15,748 feet), where the camp will be set up for the night. Once in the camp, you have the option of climbing a small ridge north of the camp to see the Vino Q'ocha Lake. The locals gave that name to the lake because sometimes the lake is dyed a reddish color by the glacial sediment that comes down from the nearby reddish mountains. Sometimes you can hear the disturbing sound of a piece of ice falling off a nearby glacier and falling into the water. The total distance you will cover during your trek today is approximately 13 kilometers (8 miles), which equates to approximately six to seven hours of walking.On the way we can see magnificent landscapes and different Andean birds.
In the morning you will ascend to the second pass of Apuchata (4,900 meters). From the opening you can see the Ausangate Lake with its turquoise color, which is fed with melting snow from the Ausangate. You will descend to the lake and climb again to reach the Palomani Pass (5,200 meters / 17,060 feet), the highest point of the walk. You will follow the path that will take you to the next valley for approximately one hour to reach Pampacancha (4,500 meters / 14,763 feet),and finally Jampa valley the night camp site. The total distance you will cover during your trek today is approximately 14 kilometers (8.7 miles), which equates to approximately seven to eight hours of walking.
Compared to the previous days, today will be relatively easy. During the walk, the snow-capped peaks of Tres Picos and Puca Punta will appear. The path between the wide green valley of Pampa Jutunpata and the valley of the Q'ampa River are also excellent places to see the charming vizcacha, a small rodent that looks like a cross between a squirrel and a rabbit and lives in large family groups. You might also be lucky enough to observe groups of vicuñas, without doubt the most beautiful member of the llama family, with its slender neck, huge eyes and soft golden wool. After passing through the small community of Q'ampa, the trail continues northwest to reach the final stretch of this hike, the Abra Q'ampa (5,000 meters / 16,404 feet). From above you can appreciate several lakes of different colors. You will descend to Lake Q'omer Q'ocha where the camp will be set up for the night. The total distance you will cover during your trek today is approximately 14 kilometers (8.7 miles), which is equivalent to approximately six hours of walking.
Another relatively easy day; today we will walk until arriving at the small Andean town of Pacchanta. You will have the opportunity to rest and relax in the thermal baths and spend a few hours in this interesting Andean town. The total distance you will cover during your trek today is approximately 12 kilometers (7.5 miles), which equates to approximately three to four hours of walking.
After breakfast you will walk to Tinqui from where you will be transferred to Cusco in a trip of approximately 3 hours.