The Ausangate Trek is a high-altitude 70km trek in the Peruvian mountains near Cusco with an average altitude of over 4000m. Unlike most other hikes in the region, Ausangate is not about Inca ruins, it’s all about breathtaking scenery; snow peaks, glaciers, colorful mountain lakes, and the Rainbow Mountain. If you like spectacular nature, getting off the beaten track, and remote hiking, then this trek is for you.
The Ausangate is one of the most challenging hikes around Cusco but at the same time one of the most rewarding in sense of scenery. This 10-day itinerary brings you to Peru’s iconic landscapes, where you can embrace all the beauty of the Ausangate trek, with none of the crowds, hiking into the remote, untouched wilderness of the Ausangate circuit, and visit the magical, multi-colored Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca), before heading to the epic signature site of Machu Picchu… all in just 10 days!
Hiking Ausangate on your own is a true adventure, where you are quite likely to see no one except a few alpacas for a whole week, being at high altitude this trek is quite tough and since the route is not always very well marked navigation can be challenging. Many hikers are more comfortable leaving planning and logistics to an experienced company that knows the area. Valencia Travel operates the Ausangate region personally and will guide you to experience the beauty of this amazing trek! Check them out for an organized Ausangate Trek, here. If you don’t have time to complete the route you can do a day tour from Cusco to Rainbow Mountain and hike to the top of it from where you can see Ausangate Mountain.
The best time to hike the Ausangate region is from April to November to maximize the number of clear days, as most of the things we recommend here are all outdoor activities. That said, with favorable weather, comes more hikers hitting the trail. That might be a good thing, but if you want to have the places only for you, try visiting during the shoulder season, as of late March or December while some Travel agencies will still offer the trek, the demand is obviously lower around this time of year. Because of this, it will be more expensive and more difficult to find daily departures for the trek. Of course, if you are going by yourself, then the Ausangate is open at all times of the year.
The weather in the Andes of Peru is always unpredictable because of the geographical conditions. On the Ausangate Trek, you will experience a wide range of temperatures. Given the high elevations, it doesn’t get hot, but the sun is intensely strong and that’s the biggest battle. Along the Ausangate trek, temperatures range from 10-20º C (50 – 68 °F) during the day if it is sunny, to 05-10º C (41 – 50 °F) during the day if it is not sunny. Given the high altitude of the campsites, temperatures drop significantly in the evening and especially at night, where they may get down to -10º C (14°F) or even lower in the dry season. Warm clothes are therefore required for this trek. Because of global warming, it can even rain in the dry season so carry a waterproof cover for your backpack. Protect your valuable electronic gear like smartphones or cameras in a dry bag or multiple Ziploc plastic bags. All the gear is carried by donkeys, and all the bags are wrapped in multiple layers of plastic tarp to protect them from rain. In addition, you need to pack your clothes, sleeping bags, and other important items in an additional layer of plastic bags.
Day pack with a Rain Cover
Extra socks (wool is best)
Hiking pants and shirts- layers
Camping shoes/ sandals- to wear in the evenings
Water-resistant trekking shoes
Warm clothing (thermal underwear, fleece, hat, and gloves)
Waterproof clothing (poncho)
Synthetic or cotton clothing (trousers, shorts, t-shirts)
Sunhat and sunglasses
Camera/ extra battery
Refillable water bottle
Soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste
Medical Kit (for emergencies)
Electricity and Charging Batteries
Cash (if you’d like to purchase authentic textiles)