The Ausangate Mountain is a peak of the Vilcanota sub mountain range of the Andes, located in the district of Ocongate, province of Quispichanchi, region of Cusco. Peru’s fourth highest mountain with 6,384 meters above sea level, its name in Quechua means “copper” and is considered sacred by locals, being one of the most sought after pilgrimage centers by the Inca descendants. The 70km trekking around Ausangate is one of the main attractions, through rocky fields, pasturing llamas, alpacas and sheep, tranquil villages, beautiful lagoons and different rock formations, ice and mountain passes over 5,000 meters of altitude.
Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountain or Seven Color Mountain is one of the most majestic attractions on the way to the Apu Ausangate. It is said to be a place that shows a new opportunity for all who visit. This belief starts at the saying “If you want to see the rainbow you have to face the storm,” which teaches us that there is always a prize for our efforts as well as a new opportunity. It is cataloged by the National Geographic magazine as one of the 100 places that must be visited before dying. Do not miss the opportunity to be part of this wonderful place because in the end, life is a wonderful adventure that begins when one really wants.
The times quoted in this itinerary are approximate. The hiking times will depend on the group and the guide can change the lunch places and camping sites, depending on the progress of the group. The region of Ausangate is very high, besides that they will be near a snow massif. Temperatures are cold and can drop below freezing at night. You should travel well prepared for low temperatures. Rent or carry sleeping bag for temperatures below zero (-15ºC or more). This region has limited tourist infrastructure and this trek makes use of the local facilities. Visitors should be aware that things can change or not go with the plan. All this is part of the adventure and visitors to Peru are encouraged to have an open mind and be open to differences in how to do things in another culture.
DAY 1: CUSCO - TINQUI - UPIS
We depart from Cusco very early in the morning for our three-hour transportation trip to the small village of Tinqui (3,820 meters / 12,464 feet). As Tinqui is located on the new Interoceanic Highway, now it can be reached much faster than in previous years. We pass through beautiful landscapes and traditional villages such as Urcos, Cattca and Ocangate. After lunch in Tinqui, the first 3 hours of the way are wonderful prelude to the magnificent landscape of the Vilcanota range, with excellent views of Ausangate. We will hike two more hours until reaching the hot springs in Upis (4,400 meters altitude / 14,432 feet), which offer fantastic views of Ausangate at the end of the valley.
DAY 2: UPIS - ANANTAPATA
In the morning we will cross the open Arapa (4,850 meters of altitude / 15,908 feet). From here, we continue for 3 1/2 hours down the valley, passing the green lagoon of Puqa Q’ocha until we reach the turquoise waters of the lagoon Jatun Puqa Q’ocha. Next we go to Anantapata (4,500 meters altitude / 14,763 feet), the camp on the third night and very close to the mountain of seven colors.
DAY 3: ANANTAPATA - VINICUNCA - AUSANGATE Q'OCHA LAGOON
After breakfast, we will take the trail to another mountain port. Going down, we will take walks along Lake Kayrawiri, surrounded by steep mountains and the great valley. Streaks of color are embedded in the slopes. Then, we pass through Cerro Grande Laya the great Inca glacier, and the most striking colors in the sediments of Yauricunca and Vinicunca. Our lunch will be in that unique landscape. We see hundreds of Andean geese nesting on the cliffs of Anta and after that the return to Ananta from where we continue to the lagoon Ausangate Q’ocha (4,650 meters / 15,256 feet) where we will camp.
DAY 4: AUSANGATE Q'OCHA LAGOON - Q'AMPA
From the Ausangate Q’ocha lagoon we ascend towards the Palomani mountain pass (5,200 meters / 17,056 feet) the highest point of the trek. From the pass we follow the path to the valley where we can rest and have lunch. In the afternoon you can enjoy the views of the snowy Tres Picos and Punta Puca. We will continue through the wide green valley of Pampa Jutunpata and up through the valley of the Q’ampa River. We will spend the third night in this area.
DAY 5: Q'AMPA - PACCHANTA
After passing through the small community of Q’ampa we will head northwest to the last mountain pass of this hike, the Q’ampa (5,000 meters of altitude / 16,400 feet). We will see several lagoons of different colors and we will have lunch next to Q’oma Q’ocha lagoon. We will hike for hours before reaching the small village of Pacchanta. We can enjoy the hot springs for a couple of hours and even have a well-deserved beer! We will set up a camp near Pacchanta and have the afternoon free to explore this interesting Andean town. You have the option of staying in a basic hostel tonight at your own cost.