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Our unique 5 day Ausangate trek itinerary gets you into the remote, untouched wilderness of the Ausangate circuit, long famous for its stunning high altitude scenery, turquoise lakes, and herds of roaming alpacas.
Read more about Ausangate, Peru and all the trekking options it has to offer.
On the other side of the Ausangate range is the Sinakara valley, where the Qoyllur Rit’i pilgrimage takes place. Every spring, thousands of pilgrims make the midnight trek by the light of the full moon, and spend three days enjoying the festivities. It’s one of the most fascinating festivals in all of South America!
Our unique Ausangate 5 day trek itinerary takes you into remote, untouched wilderness. Start out in Tinke on Day 1 with a relatively easy 3h climb to reach the Upis hot springs, passing a series of traditional villages along the way. Day 2 is all about high mountain passes and alpine lakes! You’ll cross two passes and walk by stunning green and turquoise glacial lakes, including Ausangate Lake.
On Day 3 of your Ausangate tour, you’ll face your greatest challenge yet: the Palomani Pass. Coming in at 5200m, it is the highest point on this trek. Another high pass awaits on Day 4, before you arrive at Pacchanta and a chance for another dip in the hot springs there.
Day 5 on the Ausangate trek will come as a relief with an easy 3 hour hike back to the trailhead at Tinki, and onward travel in our private vehicle to Cusco.
Note: due to the high altitude, you must have at least 3 days of acclimatization at high altitude before embarking on the Ausangate trek. Read more about altitude acclimatization.
When getting ready for your Ausangate trek, it’s important to pack the right gear. Weather in the mountains is always fickle so it’s important to be prepared for all kinds of weather: possible rain showers, sun, or even snow. Layering and flexibility are key!
The Ausangate trek 5 days itinerary is a high altitude trek, meaning it can get very cold on the trail. You are likely to warm up while hiking, but as we cross each pass on this Ausangate trekking itinerary, you will need thermals, a winter hat (toque or beanie), mitts and scarves. During the night, temperatures drop WELL below freezing (as low as -15°C / 5°F in the middle of the cold dry season!). Make sure you have plenty of warm clothes!
Since there is the chance to visit some mountain hot springs, you may also want to bring a bathing suit, flip flops and a towel!
During the Ausangate hike, we recommend convertible trekking pants made out of a quick dry fabric. Most of these hiking pants have special designs allowing a maximum range of motion. The many pockets on this style of pant can make you look a little more like an adventurer than a tourist, but can be very useful on the trail. For a cold, high-altitude hike like this one, we definitely recommend wearing thermals under your hiking pants to keep you warm.
When it comes to footwear, water-resistant trekking boots with a high top are the best hiking boots to take on the Ausangate trek. If you’re not ready to invest in specialist hiking boots, at a minimum hiking shoes will suffice.
What is the difference between hiking shoes and hiking boots? Hiking shoes are durable, trekking shoes that are generally water resistant. They don’t have ankle support though. Hiking boots are tough footwear that last a long time due to their strong construction. They have ankle support and often are very waterproof.
For more help with what to pack, check out our blog How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru.
This is particularly important on the Ausangate route as it is one of the trails where people have most felt the effects of altitude. You’ll be happy to have a trek guide with you who is experienced, knowledgeable and quick-thinking, able to alter routes at a moment’s notice if necessary.
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Apus Peru is one of an elite group of Cusco trekking agencies that put people before profit. Safety is paramount and we have a comprehensive risk assessment policy that covers a very wide range of details, from vehicle maintenance to illness and evacuation on the trail. There are many treks, including Ausangate, that we will not operate in the wet season under any circumstances due to safety considerations.
Our Ausangate trek tour begins with an early departure from Cusco. We will drive for three hours in our private transport to the small village of Tinki (3800m / 12,467 ft). Along the way, we pass through beautiful countryside and several traditional villages including Urcos, Ccatcca, and Ocongate.
After lunch in Tinki, the first 3 hours on the Ausangate trail are a wonderful prelude to the magnificent scenery of the Cordillera Vilcanota, with great views of Ausangate Mountain.
From here, we will trek for two hours more until we reach the hot springs at Upis (4400m / 14,432 ft). The hot springs offer fantastic views of Ausangate Mountain at the end of the valley. We will camp here for the night.
After a hearty breakfast to fuel our morning’s hike, we start walking, eventually crossing the Arapa Pass (4700m / 15,419 ft). From here, we continue 3½ hours down the valley, passing the green lake of Puqa Q’ocha (which actually means “Red Lake” in Quechua!) until we reach the turquoise Lake Hatun Puqa Q’ocha (“Big Red Lake”).
We then ascend the second pass, Apacheta Pass (4900m / 16,072 ft), with the turquoise blue Ausangate Q’ocha (Ausangate Lake) below. This stunning lake is fed from the melting snow of Ausangate Mountain. We will camp here tonight, under a million stars.
Today, we fix our gaze upwards as our morning trek along the Ausangate trail takes us up to Palomani Pass (5200m / 17,060 ft), the highest point we’ll reach on this 5-day Ausangate trek. From the Pass, we follow the trail into the valley where we’ll rest and have lunch.
During the afternoon we can enjoy views of the snow-capped Tres Picos (“3 Peaks”) and Puca Punta (“Red Point”) mountains. Then, we will continue through the broad green valley of Pampa Jutunpata and up the Q’ampa valley and to Soraypampa, where we will spend the night.
We begin Day 4 of the Ausangate circuit passing through the small community of Q’ampa. From here, we will head north-west to the last pass on this hike, the Q’ampa Pass (5000m / 16,400 ft). Along the way, we will see several different colored lakes and we will have lunch in Nina Parayoc.
After lunch, we will continue hiking for several hours, arriving at the small village of Pacchanta in the afternoon. Indulge yourself as you soak in the hot springs for a couple of hours, and even enjoy a well-deserved beer!
We will set up camp near Pacchanta and you will have the rest of the day free to explore this interesting Andean village.
Our last day on the Ausangate trail, it’s time to take it easy. After a good night’s sleep and another great breakfast, it’s a 3 hour trek back to Tinki and the trailhead where our Ausangate Peru journey began.
Here, take the time to enjoy this traditional Andean village before we jump back in our private vehicle for trip home to Cusco. Time and energy permitting, we can make a stop at Checacupe on the way back to admire its 3 bridges from different time periods – Incan, Colonial and Republic.
With no stops, we should arrive back to your hotel between 4 and 5pm; later if we stop at Checacupe or one of the lagoons.
Despite this being a very high altitude trek with two passes over 5000m, Ausangate does not involve the steep climbs and descents present in our most difficult treks. Given the altitude, you must be well-acclimatized before beginning.
You’ll be rewarded at the end, though, with the chance to soak in the hot springs at Pacchanta on Day 4, and even enjoy a well-deserved beer!
Day 5 of your Ausangate trekking itinerary is a gentle 3h hike back to where you began on Day 1, followed by the return journey to Cusco by car.
Remember all treks in the Cusco region are challenging for most people due to the high altitude and steep mountains.
Older people, or those who are not fit, should most definitely embark on a fitness training program prior to doing the Ausangate trail, in consultation with a medical and fitness professional. What this will entail depends on each person and their own abilities.
We can only advise in general terms: the fitter you are, the easier and more enjoyable the trek is going to be! And of course, you want to have fun while on holidays! You don’t want to set out to suffer.
See our Tip #3 for how to get ready for your trek.
The best way to prepare yourself for the Ausangate altitude is very easy: spend time at a high-altitude place like Cusco.
Most trek agencies around Cusco say that 3 days is enough for an Ausangate tour. Generally speaking, the more time you can spend acclimatizing, the better. In an ideal world, 3-4 days at altitude would give your body an excellent chance to acclimatise and help you avoid the effects of altitude sickness.
When it comes to the Ausangate trek, though, you must spend at least 3 days acclimatizing before beginning the hike. In short, your best bet to get used to Ausangate’s altitude is time!
In addition, being kind to your body helps your body deal with the extra pressures that altitude creates. This means eating healthy food, drinking plenty of water and staying away from alcohol.
Read more about Altitude and How to Acclimatize before starting your trek.
December through March is the wet season in Peru and trekking the Ausangate trail is not recommended for safety reasons. Given the high altitudes encountered while trekking Ausangate, the rain can actually turn to snow, particularly in the shoulder seasons. Trekking during these months (April, September, or October) is weather-dependent.
Read more about the best time to hike and take note of our wet season trekking policy.
See the day-by-day itinerary for exact hiking times per day on our 5 day Ausangate trek.
Whatever the conditions, you will have some really sound protection on your side!
Go luxe! You can also choose our Comfort Camping option for a full-on luxury camping experience.
You will also be accompanied by a personal chef who prepares first class gourmet meals on the trail. Our chefs receive annual training in order to offer you some really stunning culinary creations on the trail! This is not basic trail food, but fully catered for trekking.
We have a lot of vegetarian travellers and our cooks have some great options for them to enjoy their meals. We can cater for or all other types of dietary requests with adequate preparation and clear communication.
Read more about What to Expect on the Trail, including more about meals and equipment.
The Machu Picchu Trek Extension includes one night in a Standard Aguas Calientes hotel. For added comfort, you can also choose one of our upgrade packages which includes not only an upgraded hotel but also a luxury train service and meals at the top restaurants in Aguas Calientes.
And finally, for those interested in doing an Ausangate tour but who are short on time, we also offer 1- and 2-day Rainbow Mountain tours. For a more unique day trip, we particularly recommend Palccoyo. Our Palccoyo day hike offers beautiful views of rainbow-coloured hills, an easier hike and no crowds.
Water is vital on the trek. You should start the day with 2L. You will have a chance to refill at lunchtime, and again in the evening. We also provide an ample range of snacks which will fill up the average person – if you have hollow legs, you might need to bring some of your own!
The rest of your belongings – up to 7kg (15 lbs) – are carried in a duffel bag that we provide, by mules. All of the camping equipment needed on the trek is also carried by mules.
For more information about what this region has to offer and our full roster of available Ausangate treks, check out our Ausangate homepage.
…or Take the Long Way
If you’re still not sure if Ausangate is right for you, or want to read more about the area or other people’s trekking experiences, check out these helpful articles from our blog:
I didn’t know what to expect on a guided trek. I expected it to be great, but the five-day trek around Ausangate exceeded anything I had imagined.
I can’t say enough about the professionalism of Apus Peru. My traveling is limited, so I greatly appreciated knowing what to expect.
Our guide, what can I say? He was great. He has a remarkable sense of people. I never had to worry about a decision that was made on our behalf. On our last night he even had to help a trekker from another group who didn’t hire a professional guide and was struck with altitude sickness. He did everything he could to help. Including sharing oxygen and anti-nausea medication. He took great care of someone who he had no responsibility for. It just highlights the kind of caring person he is.
I have actually been having a hard time writing this review because whenever I think about what I want to say, it always sounds way too ” över the top”with gushing compliments. However, it was that kind of trip. Surrounded by an amazing team of people.
Thank you Apus Peru, it just doesn’t get any better!
The five-day trek around Ausangate stands out as the best single expedition of my long life* of hiking in the Rockies, Appalachians, Alps, volcanoes of Mexico and Andes. From the beginning to the end their excellent staff was in touch with us and responsive to every need or imagined need.
Our guide who nearly always leads the Apus Ausangate treks. He therefore knows every village, villager, trail and pass. Our plan was to hike around the mountain but heavy snowfall meant that our guide had to adjust the route for our safety and that of the crew and horses. We still hiked for five days (four nights) and at every turn the scenery changed and a new experience awaited us. There were four of us and it was the first Peru trip for two of us. I peppered our guide with questions about Peru – its history, culture, languages, economy. There seemed to be no topic he was unfamiliar with. His humor and warmth were a constant presence; his concern for our welfare and that of the two horsemen and the cook reflected his thorough groundedness as a guide.
Our three meals a day were delicious, nutritious, innovative and abundant. The cook, was joyful and entertaining. Apus equipment is top of the line.
*Since I am 75 I had to have “special dispensation” to sign up for the trip. I’m told I’m the oldest Ausangate trekker they have handled. I’m planning another trek with my three grandsons as soon as they are old enough!