Without a doubt the Ausangate trail offers some of the most wonderful scenery in the whole of the Cusco area, with many birds and wildlife and also glaciers and high alpine lakes. Its also one of the most challenging in the region with three high passes over 5,000 metres/ 16000 feet. On a clear day, Apu Ausangate dominates Cusco’s southern skyline. As we draw closer to this massive massif (6,380 metres/ 20 926 feet) one becomes increasingly impressed and understands fully why the ancient Incas held this spectacular mountain in such high regard. During the whole Ausangate trek circuit we pass local villages where the people dress in their typical attire – the women in beautiful flatboard hats with trimmings – and llamas graze freely.
We depart Cusco early the morning for our three hour ride in private transport to the small village of Tinqui (3800 metres/ 12 464 feet). As Tinqui is located on the new Interoceanic highway we can now arrive here much more quickly that in previous years. We pass through beautiful countryside and several traditional villages including Urcos, Cattca and Ocangate. After lunch in Tinqui the first 3 hours on the trail are are wonderful prelude to the magnificent scenery of the Cordillera Vilcanota, with great views of Ausangate. We will trek for two hours more until we reach the hot springs at Upis (4,400 metres/ 14432 feet) which offer fantastic views of Ausangate at the end of the valley. We will camp here for the night.
During our morning’s trek, we will cross our the Arapa pass (4,850 metres/ 15908 feet). From here, we continue 3½ hours down the valley, passing the green lake of Puqa Q’ocha until we reach the turquoise Lake Jatun Puqa Q’ocha. We then ascend the second pass of Apuchata (4,900 metres/ 16 072 feet) with the stunning turquoise blue Laguna Ausangate Q’ocha below. This lake is fed from the melting snow of Ausangate. We will camp here for the second night.
From the lake we ascend to the Palomani pass (5,200 metres/ 17 056 feet); the highest point of the 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 snowcapped Tres Picos and Puca Punta. We will continue through the broad green valley of Pampa Jutunpata and up the Rio Q’ampa valley. We will spent night 3 in this vicinity
After passing through the small community of Q’ampa we will head North west to the last pass of this hike, the Q’ampa pass (5000 metres/ 16400 feet). We will see several different coloured lakes and lunch beside Q’oma Q’ocha. We hike for several hours before arriving at the small village of Pacchanta. We can soak in the thermal springs for a couple of hours, and even have a well-deserved beer! We will set up camp near Pacchanta and you will have the afternoon free to explore this interesting Andean village. (You have the option of staying in a basic hostal this night)
It’s 3 hours trek back to Tinqui where we will have time to explore this traditional Andean village before taking our private car back to Cusco, arriving at about 18.00.
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