Ausangate mountain is definitely one of the most spectacular treks in Cusco. The trek itself is a circle around a beautiful snow-covered peak Ausangate (6,384 m.a.s.l.), full a spectacular landscapes, lamas, alpacas, lakes and beautiful colourful mountains. The best time for discovering Ausangate route is between April and September, maybe till the middle of October.
My Ausangate experience
The route can be overcome in 3.5 (what I have already tested), but this version is rather for everyone who is in very good physical condition. For all of you who do not like hiking 10-12 hours per day, please reserve 4 or 5 days.
We did that route at the end of October and we had every kind of weather: rain, snow, clouds and beautiful sun. It was a great experience, each day not only a different landscapes but also completely different weather.
We started the trek from the town Tinqui (Tinki). We went there by bus, which we took in Cusco at 6 am. The journey took us around 3 – 3,5 hours. Unfortunately the weather was horrible this day: rainy, rainy and rainy. The first day of the trip is not difficult, but if you do not have nice weather and you carry all your staff on the back, it is definitely much harder. Because of the rain after some hours of walking we had to look for a shelter. Finally we decided to visit one small andean house.
In this hut we found only a small child sitting on the bed, a little bit frighten. His parents were not there. Because we really needed a rest, we decided to look for the parents of this boy. Successfully we found his mother, who was taking care of lamas and alpacas. During that time the child become bolder, began play with us. Grateful for possibility to stay a while in their house, we prepared tea and gave them cookies, chocolate and had a really nice conversation. The meeting with this family was a very nice experience for me. I realized again that it is possible to be happy without having material goods. This family lives in the small house (one room and kitchen, no bathroom). In the house there is no furniture. The only one furniture was the bed in which all family was sleeping (parents and two children). In the kitchen there was a small table, two chairs, cupboard and small stove for cooking. The floor was concrete, obviously without any carpets or anything like that.
But even without all of the things, which normally we have in our lives, that family was very happy, smiled all the time and did not complain. Definitely they lead a very difficult life, but somehow they do not look at it from the negative side.
After leaving the family, we continued our trek till the place called Upis (4400 m.a.s.l.). There usually travellers spend the first night. Here you can enjoy the hot springs what makes that place quite unique. Unfortunately, because we wanted to finish the trip earlier, we could not stay there for the night and enjoy the hot bath with the beautiful view for Ausangate mountain. Instead of that we continued the trip almost to the first mountain pass – Arapa (4850 m.a.s.l.). Thanks to that decision the next day we saved some energy and could walk more hours.
The second day was quite hard but also very beautiful. The landscapes were breathable. We had also a very ncie weather.
This day we had to overcome second mountain pass of Apuchata (4900 m.a.s.l.). We arrived to our camp around 5.30 pm. We camped close the the house where the owner had a lot of lamas, alpacas and sheeps. We even were the witnesses of the birth of one lama.
The third day we woke up very early. During the night the weather changed and started to snow. In the morning I could not recognise the place where we were. The landscape changed, the mountains around become covered with snow. All of that looked amazing.
In the third day we started our adventure very early. This day we wanted to go through the last mountain pass called Q’ampa pass 5,000 m.a.s.l. The road was very nice but it was quite a hard day too. A little bit below the Q’ampa pass we had a last camping.
The fourth day was very easy, no more mountain passes. We had to go to the small village Pacchanta from where we could catch the bus to Tinki. The route was very beautiful and went almost all the time down. You can not imagine easier trekking than that part.
We arrived to Pacchanta around 3:00 pm. In this village there are hot springs. We did not have time to enjoy the hot water, because we wanted to catch the bus from Tinki to Cusco (the last one was around 5:30 pm). So we had to organize very quickly a transport from Pacchanta to Tinki. There was only one option – the truck you can see below. We took it, and after around 1 hour we were in Tinki. Just on time to jump into the bus going to Cusco. In Cusco we were around 10:30 pm.
If you will have one extra day, or if you will start to walk the last day very very early, you will have enough time to visit hot springs.
With tavel agency or without?
I will say: almost always you can organize everything on your own without any travel agency. There is only one thing – that not of all us are prepared for it. Why?
First of all if you are alone, I do not recommend some days long trekking on your own. Find the friends or simply go with the organized tour. The mountains are sometimes dangerous, you can meet people who are let’s say in very soft way, not too friendly or you can become sick and then no one will help you. And if we are talking about trekking in Peru, definitely some health problems connected with high altitude. Soroche problem does not have to, but can appear – there is always a risk.
Another thing is that you can get lost. And not all of us like this kind of adventures. Sometimes because of getting lost, you need to take another road, or longer, or harder. I had this problem already 3 times and it can be a problem for everyone who can not walk really a lot. If you will go with the travel agency or with people who know the road this problems for sure will not appear.
But what about Ausangate trek? Yes, like most trekking expeditions, it is possible to do it on your own. If you have ability to read map, you have a good map and if you are not afraid to walk more in the case if by accident you will get lost, you can go without a guide. There are some moments where the road is not clear. But with some luck, especially if you will find someone on the road and with the map you should be fine. The best maps are provided by South American Explorers Clubs (SAE). In Cusco they have their office in Atocsaycuchi 670 street (San Blas).
Always you need to take into consideration all advantages and disadvantages while preparing trekking in Peru.