Ausangate trek is undisputedly the highest trek in the country. It presents breathtaking views. Unlike the Inca trail, it doesn’t require any permit and it doesn’t lead to Machu Picchu. Unlike Salkantay trek, it isn’t an alternate route to Machu Picchu. You can also go solo on this magnificent track. It presents breathtaking views of Snowcapped Mountain. The weather of Ausangate is so freezing because it is located at a very high altitude. If you are planning to trek Ausungate without a guide, then read our article to find out what you must know.
Ausangate trek Difficulty Level
If we try to mark Ausangate trek on the difficulty scale, then we can mark it on moderate to challenging trek on the difficulty scale. Except for a few short sessions, the ascend is moderate but the real challenge of the trek is altitude sickness. Independent hikers should only walk the Ausangate if they fulfill the physical fitness, stamina, skills, experience, and acclimatization to the high altitude as much as 5000 meters, 16400feet plus above the sea level.
Ausangate is the highest peak of Peruvian Ausangate Glacier system namely Cordillera Vilcanota. Ausangate trek duration is 6 days. Ausangate trek elevation varies at different points but its highest point is 5000 meters above.
Distance, Elevation, and Duration Required
Ausangate trail is long with the circuit covering a total of 43.5 miles, 70 kilometres excluding the side trips. The trailhead is located at Tinqui in the southeast of Cusco city.
Ausangate has the highest elevation among all the treks in Peru having 4500 meters, 14763 feet above sea level with 4 high altitude passes which makes this hike so strenuous. The lowest height of the trailhead or the starting point of the trail itself is 3800 meters, 12467 feet above sea level. The highest point of trek touches 5165 meters, 16945 feet above sea level, so no wonder why acclimatization is necessary to start this tough trek to Ausangate Mountain.
The average duration required to complete the classic Ausangate circuit is 6 days and 5 nights. You can attempt hike more than standard range and distance depending upon your physical strength and expertise. One shouldn’t be too adventurous to attempt to complete this massive trek in less than the recommended duration if not physically fit because after all, this is a high-altitude trek.
The itinerary for Ausangate trek can be divided into five days.
Day 1: Cusco to Upis via Tinqui
To reach the Ausangate trailhead you can take the minibus from Cusco city to Tinqui which will be about 3.5 hours ride. The trailhead of the classic Ausangate circuit is at Tinqui. You would take the dirt road through the Vilcanota valley and then ascend towards your first campsite which would be the Upis.
Day 2: Through Arapa Pass towards Jutan Puqa Q’ocha
The Arapa pass is sitting at 4850 meters, 15912 feet offering spectacular views of Mount Ausangate. You can have lunch at this pass and then ascend towards the Jutan Puqa Q’ocha where you would camp for the second night. You would see different colored lakes in this region besides your trekking journey.
Day 3: Through the Palomani Pass towards Chillca
On the third day of the hike, we will pass through the highest point of the Ausangate trek namely the Palomani pass. It is perched at 5200 meters, 17060 feet above sea level. This trek right here might not be that steep yet demanding and challenging. You are supposed to slow down if the altitude is affecting you. You should have plenty of time to cross this pass before descending along Jampamayo River towards your next campsite, Chillca.
Day 4: Through the Q’ampa Pass towards Q’omercocha Lake (via Jutunpata Valley)
Q’ampa pass which is perched at 5,000 meters above sea level will be the last pass of this trail. From here we will descent through Jutunpata Valley to camp near the beautiful Q’omercocha Lake.
Day 5: Descent to Pajchanta
After the spectacular trek, you will continue to descend slowly to complete the Ausangate circuit. Your last night’s campsite would be at Pajchanta.
Day 6: Pajchanta to Cusco via Tinqui
You would have to reach Tinqui early morning to catch the morning bus to Cusco. The bus generally leaves by 8:30 AM but you should check the latest schedule.
Next morning you will have to reach Tinqui early in the morning to grab the bus to Cusco. Generally, the bus leaves by 08:39 Am but you should check the latest schedule.
When Should You Hike the Ausangate Trek?
Ausangate is open for trekking 12 months a year it would be a barmy idea to attempt in the rainy season. The best weather for trekking is the dry winters where the temperature drops below zero degree Celsius, it is a much better time to attempt. The dry season starts in April and lasts till October in the Cusco region.
There are a couple of basic general stores in Tinqui, but it is highly recommended to get your supplies replenished from Cusco city to avoid any kind of inconvenience. Be prepared as you won’t find any convenience store or bakeries beyond Tinqui. You will find plenty of water from natural resources, but you should not use untreated water. From natural resources.
You should be fine if you have your hiking gear, supplies, stamina, and skills. However, a guided tour is highly recommended for this circuit. If you want an intimate and wholesome experience on this trek, Camina Los Andes has just the right offers for you.