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Our Laguna Sibinacocha trek is an unforgettable trail for nature lovers and those seeking to get off the beaten path. Leave the crowds behind as you deviate from the normal Ausangate route and take in the majestic Sibinacocha Lake.
Note: Due to the extreme high altitude of this trek, you MUST spend at least 3 days acclimatizating before beginning the hike.
Our 6 day Ausangate Sibinacocha Lake trek starts with a 3 hour drive south from Cusco along the Trans-Oceanic highway. Arriving in Tinke, it’s another 3 hours to hike to Pacchanta where we camp for the first night.
The next 4 days are filled with a series of stunning, jewel-like glacial lakes set against a backdrop of endless snow-capped peaks as you hike the Ausangate circuit towards Lake Sibinacocha. Along the way you’ll cross a whopping 5 passes, all above 5000m (16,404 ft).
Throughout our entire trip you’ll be amazed by the spectacular mountain views and the abundant wildlife: geese, llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, possibly even flamingoes!
For the extra fit adventure-seekers, on Day 5 you have the option to add a non-technical scramble up Cerro Yayamari!
The Ausangate to Laguna Sibinacocha hike ends at Phinaya on Day 6, a remote Andean community free of vehicles other than horses and the occasional bike. From Phinaya it’s a 6 hour drive back to Cusco, where we will leave you at your hotel.
The Andean treks around Cusco are notorious for the mistreatment of porters, mules and other trail staff who are asked to carry more than government regulation allow. At Apus Peru, we do things differently, going above and beyond these minimums. Read more about how we take care of all our staff, including porters and horsemen.
To make sure you’re adequately prepared, we recommend that you bring the following items with you:
Apus Peru is one of a select group of trek operators that put people above profit. Chief among our priorities is safety on the trail. This is why we have a comprehensive risk assessment policy that covers a lot of the potential problems we could face on the trek and how to mitigate them, including altitude sickness, injuries and evacuation procedures.
Please note that, in an abundance of caution, we will not operate certain treks during the rainy season. This is due to safety considerations as heavy rains can make the trails unsafe, especially in the Ausangate region.
Day 1 of our Laguna Sibinacocha hike begins with a pick-up from your hotel in Cusco. We head south on the Trans-Oceanic Highway for a three-hour journey towards the Sibinacocha Lake trailhead.
Our first stop is Urcos where we can snap some photos of the colorful local market. From here we continue on to Ccatcca, an agricultural and cattle-raising community which will give us spectacular views of the region. After that, we continue on to Ocongate, capital of the region of the same name, and just a half hour from our destination, Tinke.
Once we arrive in Tinke (also spelled Tinki or Tinqui), we will have lunch and then start a 3-hour hike along the road to Pacchanta (4100m / 13,451 ft), where we will camp for the night. Pacchanta is a rural community that boasts some well-known hot springs where we might be able to enjoy a nice dip under the shadow of the imposing Ausangate Mountain.
After a good night’s rest, we start Day 2 of our 6 day Laguna Sibinacocha trek with a slight climb up the Pacchanta Valley. We’ll be in the company of llamas and alpacas, casually grazing on the hillsides around us.
Eventually we reach Ninaparayoc Lagoon where we will stop for lunch. This is a spectacular spot with incredible views of all the major snow-capped peaks around us: Ausangate, Santa Catalina, Maria Huamantiqlla, Pucapunta and Colquecruz. See if you can name them all!
After lunch, with our batteries charged and spirits replenished, we will hike for about 3 hours towards the first mountain pass of our trek, the Abra de Q’ampa (also called Jampa). This is a tough climb that will take us up to a breathtaking (literally!) 5060m (16,601 ft).
From there, we continue another 2 hours until we reach Jampa Pampa. Here we will set up camp in an impressive valley overlooked by the huge and awesome Tres Picos, Colquecruz and Pucapunta peaks.
Day 3 morning begins with a gradual climb up to Yanaqocha lake whose dark color gives it its name (Yanaqocha means “black lake” in Quechua). Dark red and black volcanic soils color our journey while moraines reveal the geological history of this region: glaciers once covered these slopes!
We enter a beautiful valley that boasts an explosion of colored mountains, three gorgeous lagoons and a smattering of fuzzy llamas and alpacas. After crossing this valley, we reach our next mountain pass (5100m / 16,732 ft) and then continue on to Quillita where we will camp for the night.
It’s Day 4 of our Ausangate to Laguna Sibinacocha trek and our toughest day awaits. But well-rested and with bellies full, we’re ready to meet the challenge that lies ahead: the Abra del Condor, or Condor Pass (5221m / 17,129 ft). This is the highest point on our trek, and it will be a tough climb.
As we reach our first milestone of the day, we’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Vilcanota mountain range and maybe even some wild vicuñas! The glacial-fed Sibinacocha Lake – our next destination – looms in the distance.
From here it’s three hours to Laguna Sibinacocha, and we’ll cross another mountain pass and a valley before we get there. When we arrive, we’ll camp alongside the dark blue waters of the lagoon, not far from its glacial source. This is an area rich in biodiversity and with any luck, we’ll spot plenty of huallatas (Andean geese), coots, and ducks as they visit the waters near our campsite.
From our lakeside camp, we start Day 5 walking along the shores of Sibinacocha Lake until we reach Yayamari, nestled beneath the rocky mountain of the same name. From here, we cross the pampa where we are likely to see hundreds of llamas and alpacas, and, if we’re lucky, vicuñas as well, until we reach the Abra Ccascana (5040m / 16,535 ft).
Surrounded by the snow-capped peaks Montura and Chumpi, we reach Ccascana lagoon, where we will camp for the night. We may be treated to more Andean wildlife in this spot, including Andean geese and maybe even flamingoes!
Looking for more adventure? Add on an extra day and do the Yayamari Scramble, a non-technical climb of this shale-covered peak!
Our last day of the Ausangate to Laguna Sibinacocha hike sees us leave Ccascana Lake behind as we make the 3.5h trek to Phinaya.
Phinaya is a small Andean community with a beautiful church and zero traffic besides horses and the occasional bicycle. Here we will have lunch before we start our long journey home by private vehicle.
We expect to reach Cusco after dark, after about 6 hours of driving.
The extreme high altitude as well as the series of steep ascents and descents are what make this trek more challenging than others in the region, though bear in mind, there are no “easy” treks in the Andes!
During the course of the six days, we will cross a number of mountain passes on the Ausangate Sibinacocha trek, each over 5000m (16,404 ft). We will hike, on average, 7 hours per day ascending and descending the mountain passes.
The campsites along the route are located at particularly high elevations. Sleeping at high altitudes is hard on the body, for which reason you must make sure you are well acclimatized before beginning this trek.
The high altitude also creates cold, windy and even wet weather conditions. This can be a challenge if you are not used to camping in extreme circumstances.
If you are seasoned multi-day hiker with a well-established exercise routine, you are probably already well prepared to meet the challenges of this trek as long as you take the time to properly acclimatize.
On the other hand, if you’re new to hiking or don’t normally exercise that much, you should definitely spend time preparing for this trek. What that training regimen includes will depend on your physical abilities and current fitness levels, and it should be developed alongside a medical or fitness professional.
Most likely you will want to combine a cardiovascular training plan with some long-distance “practice” hikes in your area. Day hikes, or even some multi-day hikes, will help you to build up your stamina so you can endure long days of trekking.
For more training advice, check out our Trekking Tip #3.
Be nice to yourself and stay healthy before the trek. Drink plenty of water and eat small, light meals. Fun fact: your digestion slows down at high elevations! Get lots of rest and avoid alcohol, too.
Learn more about Altitude and How to Acclimatize before you begin your hike.
We do not operate this trekking route in the rainy season which runs from December to March. Wet weather means snow at high elevations which makes the route dangerous and your safety always comes first!
You can also trek the Sibinacocha Lake route in April, September or October, which are either side of the rainy season. The issue is that the weather is even harder to predict and that is why we have a wet season policy. This gives us the option to change the trekking route at the last minute, if weather conditions are deemed unsafe.
Read more about the best time to hike and read our wet season trekking policy.
Days 1 and 6 are shorter given the additional driving time to travel to and from Cusco.
We will spend five nights camping during the 6 day Laguna Sibinacocha trek, but you have nothing to worry about! Our deluxe all-season tents and comfortable foam mattresses will keep you well protected from the elements so you can sleep soundly each night. We can rent you a warm sleeping bag (good to -15°C (5°F)), but if you choose to bring your own, make sure it is suitable for temperatures well below freezing!
If you would like more comfort on the trail, you can also opt for our Comfort Camping upgrade. This somewhat luxurious option includes larger tents, a deluxe sleeping bag, an inflatable mattress bed and even a hot shower (yes HOT!).
Make no mistake: this is not your regular trail food! One of our very creative professional trail chefs will accompany you along the trek and will take care of all your dietary needs. The quality of the meals produced half way up a mountain rival any of the best restaurants in Cusco!
Our trail chefs attend regular training courses, providing you with a wide variety of healthy, nutritious meals for the trek. They can cater to just about any dietary needs as well. If you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-intolerant or have any other special preferences, just let us know at booking.
We also provide snacks to take with you on the trail (to help give you the energey you need to get over those mountain passes!), and of course, boiled water with which you can refill your reusable water bottles.
Water is provided only at meal times so make sure you fill up with enough to last you. If you think you will need more, consider bringing purification tablets so you can fill up from streams..
The Ausangate Sibinacocha route is unique in that there are some optional activities that can be added, including fishing on Sibinacocha Lake and doing the Yayamari Scramble. More details about both of these activities can be found here.
If the Sibinacocha trek interests you but you are looking for a longer or more hard-core experience, you might consider our 9 day Carabaya Trek. The Carabaya trek starts in Puno and makes its way up until it joins the Sibinacocha trek. You can also start from Cusco, making it a 10 day trek.
Last but not least, the 6 day Ausangate to Laguna Sibinacocha trek does NOT visit Machu Picchu. Ausangate is actually in a totally different region! We do offer a trek extension for those who want to visit Machu Picchu after the trek. You can see more information here.
Make sure you pack enough water with you for each leg of the hike (we recommend 2L per day). We provide boiled water for you to fill up your water bottle in the morning and at lunch time. If you think you will need more water than what your water bottle can hold, you might want to bring a water purification system (tablets or a filter) so that you can fill up at streams along the trail.
For everything else you want to bring with you on the hike we will give you a duffle bag which will be carried by mules. The mules often go on ahead so that the muleteers can help set up the campsite in time for your arrival, so they are not with you all along the trail. You will have access to your duffle bag only once you reach the campsite. Therefore, everything you will actually need during the hike should go in your daypack.
For more information about other treks in the Ausangate area, check out our Ausangate landing page.
….or Take the Long Way
We are a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids – 18, 15 and 14) and we chose this trek (6 days/ 5 nights) because we wanted something off the beaten track and certainly didn’t want to trek with 500 others on the Inca Trail. I think we only saw 4 other trekkers (on the second day) and none after that.
Pre trek organisation both from the UK and meeting in Cusco were all fantastic, easy communication and heaps of useful information. And on the trek all the staff were superb, from our guide who gave us brilliant Peruvian history lessons each evening, the cook who never stopped smiling and managed to prepare the most incredible meals. Anyone prepared to bring me a cup of tea in bed at 6.00 am when there’s half of foot of snow outside deserves a medal!
The scenery on the trek is spectacular, the areas we camped in all stunning and always left spotlessly clean. The distances covered/heights climbed are not too great but this is a hard trek because of the altitude (three of the nights we were camping above 4,900 m) and because of the cold (easily – 10 at night and not particularly warm during the day). We wore every single layer of clothing we had, including alpaca socks bought from 2 lovely ladies on the first day. We were prepared for the cold but maybe not prepared for the amount of snow that fell….it snowed overnight on three of the nights and the last day we walked out in over 8″ of snow, which the horses struggled through. The van luckily had made it to Phinaea and despite struggling up some of the bends it made it back too (not a given…over 70 km of dirt track much of which was covered in snow).
Overall a fantastic experience.
The trek was absolutely everything we could have wanted and more, gorgeous scenery, attentive guide, cook and horsemen. Although we are members of the senior set, we are avid hikers and spend much time in Colorado. We truly didn’t have a problem with the altitude in terms of sickness. Our tent was incredibly spacious and the sleeping bags provided kept us nice and warm at night. The horsemen set everything up for us so all we needed to carry was a daypack. It was so nice to arrive in camp and see everything ready for us. The cook was fantastic. His food was fresh, creative and plentiful. Especially memorable was a breakfast of fresh trout he prepared using fish that had been caught the night before. In addition to our 3 meals, we had a teatime with snacks (great popcorn). Absolutely fascinating. In addition, our guide knew the flowers, animals, and birds, we saw along the way.
My husband and I both felt that Roger was, hands down, the best guide we had ever had. All in all the trek was everything we had hoped for and truly exceeded our expectations. We also appreciate that a percentage of the monies received by Apus Peru goes to a worthy cause. I highly recommend this company and can guarantee that if you book with them, you will love your experience.