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Ausangate Glacier

Ausangate (Apu Ausangate in Quechua) is located southeast of the city of Cusco and is the fifth highest mountain in Peru. It is a very important place not only for its beautiful landscapes and rich culture, but its mountains, glaciers and lagoons provide water to Cusco communities and the Machupicchu hydroelectric plant, which generates energy for thousands of families

Ausangate mountain location

The Apu Ausangate is located 100 kilometers from the city of Cusco in a southeastern direction, in the mountain range of

The Andes within the Vilcanota mountain range, in the Pitumarca district, Canchis province, Cusco Region.

Its main summit is located at 6,384 meters above sea level, so its peaks are able to be seen from the city of Cusco. According to the Andean worldview, since pre-Inca times, it is considered an Apu or protective deity, and source of life.

What can we find in Apu Ausangate?

Around this majestic snow-capped mountain there are large luminous green / blue lagoons, incredible water bodies and forests of stones and glaciers, which make it an earthly paradise, especially for tourists who like or are interested in extreme sports or of adventure.

Being a remote territory, it is home to innumerable species of flora and fauna, as well as traditional pastoral populations, willing to share with the world the richness of their inspiring world.

Likewise, we can find hiking products with shelters, operated by Andean Lodges, a rural community tourism company with social responsibility.

What can you do in Apu Ausangate?

The main attractions that can be seen on the Cusco – Ausangate route are the Checacupe Colonial Bridge, the Checacupe Temple, the Surini Lagoon, the Qenqomayo River, the Ausangate Cocha Lagoon, the Ananiso Canyon, among others.

Also, thanks to the geographical accidents of Ausangate, it is the ideal place to practice sports, such as rock climbing, ice climbing, trekking, among other activities.

With Andean Lodges you can get to know this beautiful place and do different adventure activities. We are the operator in Cusco with the greatest social responsibility, we are interested in preserving the environment and the different cultures and traditions of the country.

Myths, legends and traditions of Apu Ausangate

The main legend that hides this great mountain and all the lakes that are there, is that this is the main origin from which the masculine energies that fertilize the sacred land Pachamama, our mother earth, are born, and that after a long elapse are lost in the waters of the Amazon to finally return to fill the glaciers and snow-capped mountains in the form of a river of stars, also known as Willkamayu or the Milky Way.

The closest community to this snow-capped mountain is the community of Chillca, a town made up of llama and alpaca herders, this town is in charge of guarding these amazing places, in addition, it is from this town that many expeditions leave, many of them are the well-known mountain walks that can be done after spending the night in small, but comfortable lodges or tambos.

The Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated into Spanish as “snow of stars”, is celebrated every year on the north side of this natural wonder. This festival takes place days before the Corpus Christi festival in Cusco, which occurs between May and June.

During the Qoyllur Rit’i or “snow of stars”, thousands of Quechuas make pilgrimage to the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i, a painting made on a rock, in the temple of Sinakara. This pilgrimage was included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

How to get to Ausangate?

To access from Cusco you must take the Cusco-Puno route, take a detour through the town of Checacupe until you reach the town of Chillca, this tour can last approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes.

From this town, tours of up to 7 days will begin to skirt the snowy peak, explore the scenic wonders of this area or expeditions of up to 10 days to crown its summit at 6384 meters above sea level. Services offered by Andean Lodges.

Ausangate Trek

The main reason why Ausangate Trek is considered difficult is because the entire trek takes place at high altitude, therefore it is only recommended for those who have experience in these conditions. The hike itself is said to be not too difficult, as long as you are not suffering from the altitude, but the altitude tends to affect most people. Therefore, if you decide to do this hike it may depend on how acclimatized you are and the experience you have to deal with similar conditions. If you are suffering from the altitude it can be extremely difficult, as there are a total of four high mountain passes ranging from 4,757m to 5,165m.

There are a few other concerns besides altitude sickness as well. Due to its remote location, if you are injured or ill, it is very difficult to be evacuated by emergency personnel. Speaking Spanish at a reasonably high level is also an absolute must to deal with any local person you can find. The weather can also be an issue, with snow or other difficult conditions interrupting the hike. Sometimes it can be a bit difficult to find the right path.

With those warnings out of the way, let’s focus on the reward for all these potential difficulties. We have already mentioned that you will pass through a lot of beautiful natural sights like glaciers, lakes, and mountain views. Did we also mention that the hike also contains multiple natural hot springs where you can recharge after a strenuous day of hiking? All this while being surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural scenery you can imagine. Nor are they just static scenes of nature around you; the landscape is alive, with numerous species of native wildlife calling the region home. The fauna of the region includes alpacas, llamas, vicuñas, and vizcasas, along with many beautiful species of native birds. Ausangate Trek is truly a once in a lifetime experience where you will feel closer to nature than you have ever felt before.

When to go

The best time of year to do Ausangate Trek is in the dry season which lasts from May to September. Despite the general lack of precipitation, it is still possible to see a little snow or rain from time to time, and you will have to deal with rather cold weather as these months coincide with winter in the southern hemisphere.

Route

All departures for Ausangate Trek normally depart from the city of Cusco. The trail in Tinqui is about 3.5 hours by bus from Cusco. From there, the typical route is as follows:

Ausangate Trek Itinerary

  • Day 1: Cusco – Tinqui – Upis
  • Day 2: Upis – Ausangate Q’ocha Lake
  • Day 3: Lake Ausangate Q’ocha – Qampa
  • Day 4: Qampa – Pacchanta
  • Day 5: Pacchanta – Cusco

Many tours will also include the option to visit the beautiful rainbow colored mountain of Vinicunca (Rainbow Mountain) as a side trip from the main hike.

What to bring

What items you bring will really depend on how you plan to do the hike. Since it is a very difficult hike with certain dangers involved, we highly recommend using a qualified travel agency to book a guided expedition. In this case, you should consult your travel provider to find out what to bring with you, as most items will be provided for you. Below is an example list of some of the things you will need. If you decide to go on this adventure on your own, be sure to check out other guides as this is not a complete list.

  • Store
  • Mat
  • Sleeping bag
  • Gas stove
  • Pots
  • Lantern
  • Inner fleece for sleeping bag
  • Purification tablets for drinking water
  • Map
  • GPS / compass
  • Sunglasses and hat
  • Chapstick
  • All weather clothing
  • Insect repellent
  • Toiletries such as toilet paper

Tourism companies

There are many companies that operate guided walks to Ausangate from Cusco. If you fly to Lima (where almost all international flights arrive), it is common to travel across the country by bus and sightseeing, eventually ending in Cusco. There are many companies that run along this route in Peru, but the only one that offers a hop on hop off style service is Peru Hop. This hop on hop off system allows you to travel flexibly and see all the important sites along the way, so we highly recommend that you book a ticket.

Once in Cusco, you will have the ability to go shopping a bit and find one that suits you, as the pace of the trek, the accommodations provided, and the price will differ between providers. If you prefer to book something online, there are a couple of companies that sell tours online, including Ausangate Trek. It may also be a good idea to get your feet wet with another hike from Cusco before trying something as challenging as Ausangate.

We hope that the information we have presented has convinced you to see one of Peru’s best kept secrets for yourself! Happy trekking!

Visiting Cusco is a real adventure whose protagonist will be yourself, instead of a memorable experience, that is why Cusco is definitely one of the most incredible cities with a great variety of archaeological centers and tours such as Sacred Valley, Camino Inca or Machu Picchu. To enjoy an unforgettable experience, contact Inka Trail Backpacker, a company that will better assist you during your visit, of course it is always with the necessary advice for you and yours as well as the guarantee, responsibility and security that characterizes us. If you visit the city of Cusco another impressive destinations that you can visit are the tour to rainbow mountain peru or the humantay lake tour from cusco, which only takes one day. But if you are gonna to stay more days in Cusco, other archaeological places you can know will be the choquequirao trek peru, the salkantay trek to machu picchu, and the classic inca trail 4 days 3 nights.

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