AROUND THE AUSANGATE
Without a doubt, one of Peru’s best treks. We will observe beautiful and varied Andean landscapes, snowcapped mountains, colorful lakes and stone forests. We will have the opportunity to discover the mystic and spirituality of the Quechuas, native llama and alpaca shepherds who live in this isolated region of the Vilcanota mountain range. With a bit of luck, we will watch the mighty Andean Condor in flight, as well as foxes, viscachas and vicuñas, fine wool relatives of llamas mostly extinct in other parts of the Andes.
Day 1 | Cusco - Pacchanta
We depart from Plaza San Francisco on our private bus at 7 am towards the southeast of Cusco. Half an hour later, we stop in Oropeza to buy their famous bread. We then continue in direction to Urcos, where we will arrive at around 9:30 am. Here we will stop for a brief tour of the main square and last minute shopping. Our next stop will be the town of Tinke, where we will have lunch and get our first view of the Apu Ausangate. After lunch, we continue our trip to Pacchanta (4200 m.a.s.l.), arriving there at approximately 3:30 pm. Our transport will leave us here since this is where our hike will start the next day. In the afternoon, we will go on a light walk around town to help us acclimatize to high altitude. Then, we will visit the house of our friend Lucio, an entrepreneur who has a nursery and a lodge, with alpacas of the best wool, sheep, and guinea pigs. Lucio will tell us how he managed to accomplishing all this in a rugged climate at such a high altitude. At sunset, we recommend taking a bath in the town’s hot springs in order to stimulate a good and early sleep.
Day 2 | Pacchanta - Pachaspata
Today we wake up early and after breakfast we begin our trek. This first leg of the trip is very beautiful because we get a frontal view of the Apu Ausangate. There are tons of viscachas in this area that live freely and without fear of humans. These fluffy animals cannot be hunted for their wool or meat since they’re considered daughters of the Apu. We will walk for about three hours on average until we reach the lagoon area, where we will make a spiritual ceremony, a cleanse and offering to the Pachamama and the Apu Ausangate. This ceremony has several parts and all the group members, including muleteers, chefs and passengers, participate in it. This crucial ceremony is done so that everything goes well during our trip. After lunch, we continue walking for about two more hours until our next camp in Pachaspata (4950 m.a.s.l.), where we will spend the night. (13.5 km approx.)
Day 3 | Pachaspata - Finaya
After breakfast, we head towards the first saddle in the trek, the Jhampa (5200 m.a.s.l.), where will arrive after an hour of walking. Although it is not very steep at the beginning, in the end it gets hard. The top area is the place chosen by visitors to leave a Pacheta (offering), as it shows respect for Ausangate (here you can get phone signal). We will have a short break to allow us to watch this beautiful landscape and to eat our snack. We resume the walk for approximately one more hour, until we reach Soracuchu Pampa camp, where we will have lunch. If there is good sun out, we can bathe in the river or take a refreshing nap. After lunch, we will walk for about three more hours until we reach the Finaya camp, where we will spend the night. (18 km approx.).
Day 4 | Finaya - Kayrawiri
Today there is no saddle and the first part of the trek is flat, so the intensity of the day will be moderately low. During the tour, we will be able to appreciate the four snowcapped mountains of the area: Rodiana, Jayangati, Huayna Ausangate and Ausangate. We will walk along the side of the Jhampa river, enjoying the view of the landscape, the alpacas and, occasionally, some local shepherd. Here is where we find the detour to Palomani basecamp to climb to the top of the Ausangate. After three hours of walking, we will reach the town of Hatunchilca, where we will have lunch. After resting and having lunch, we will continue the hike until we reach the town of Chilca (30 minutes approx.). From here, the road is short but steep, with a slope at the beginning that will take a couple of hours to climb until we reach the Kayrawiri camp (4590 m.a.s.l.), where the hike to the Mountain of Colors begins. The sunset here is spectacular. (18 km approx.)
Day 5 | Kayrawiri - Pucacocha
Today is undoubtedly the hardest day of the trek, but also the most beautiful. As they say, good and most important things in life cost. We get up at 3:30 AM and at 4:00 AM we start the walk towards our first challenge of the day: the famous Mountain of Colors (5100 m.a.s.l.). This part of the walk will take an hour and a half, approximately, so the idea is to arrive at dawn and enjoy the view before groups of mass tourism arrive. The view from here is simply fascinating. We will have time to explore the area and take photos. We will have the place almost just for ourselves. Once people begin to arrive, we will go to the Warmisaya saddle (4985 m.a.s.l.) This saddle is short but quite steep and it will take us an hour and thirty minutes or so to reach the top. We will have lunch on the other side of the saddle, and some can take a nap. We, then, continue the walk through a third saddle, the Pucacocha (5050 m.a.s.l.). This one is not as steep, but it is longer and will take a couple of hours to get to the top. The view from here, once again, is spectacular. We will begin our descent until we reach the Pucachocha camp at the bottom of the Ausangate at around 4 pm. The camp is located next to a beautiful lagoon full of trouts that we can fish and eat for breakfast the next morning. Walking through the camp is quite entertaining since we are at the bottom of the Ausangate and there is usually snow nearby. (18 km approx.)
Day 6 | Pucachocha - Upis - Cusco
We will start the hike very early and in about two hours we will arrive at the lagoon viewpoint, an ideal place for fabulous photos. The walk will be along the edge of the lagoon, passing through a small stone forest. We will continue the walk until we pass the Muchachos saddle (4700 m.a.s.l.), followed by a last push through the Arapapass saddle (4800 m.s.n.m). These two saddles are easy to pass because they are not as steep as the others are. We will arrive at Upis at approximately 3 pm, where, in addition to lunch, we will have some comforting hot springs at our disposal. Then, we will walk about 45 minutes more to meet the bus that will take us back to Cusco. We will arrive at the imperial city at night (13 km approx.)