AUSANGATE TREK AND RAINBOW MOUNTAIN PERU
Ausangate Trek is ideal for trekking lovers because it contains in its challenging route beautiful landscapes as well as the rewarding interaction with the local people and its strong cultural components that easily surpass the highest expectations of an epic journey.
What makes the Ausangate trek to Rainbow mountain special compared to the other treks is that it’s in the Cusco region, which includes Inka archaeological sites, and starts at 4200 m. before climbing up to about 5200 m. On this amazing journey you can enjoy unique landscapes, lakes, pristine glaciers, jagged peaks and snow-capped mountains, valleys and colorful mountains that fully immerse you in the wild. In addition, there is the opportunity to observe the endemic fauna consisting of 20 species of birds, black-winged Andean geese, the majestic Andean condor, llamas, alpacas, vicuñas (wild relative of the alpaca), and the vizcacha (a type of chinchilla that resembles a rabbit). All this creates an incredible setting that is truly sublime.
In recent years the farmers in the Ausangate area have charged an entrance fee, thus allowing investment in security measures and infrastructure that have made the area a much safer place. Although Ausangate is not as well known as the Inka Trail and the Salkantay Trek, lately passionate trekking adventurers opt for this route as its natural environment remains practically untouched. This makes the experience in this part of the Andes quiet, picturesque and truly authentic Peru.
HOW TO GET TO AUSANGATE?
It is necessary to take a public bus from Cusco to Tinki. The terminal of these buses is located 10 minutes (by cab) from the city of Cusco. The company is called SIWAR, a bus leaves every 20 minutes and the prices are reasonable. Make sure that the destination of the bus is Ocongate, which is a larger town than Tinki and is located before Tinki. Check that the bus will continue to Tinki. Travel time by bus is approximately 4 hours on the road to Puerto Maldonado. Tinki is located at about 3,575 meters and accommodations and restaurants are scarce. We recommend leaving Cusco at 5 a.m. and starting the hike the same day to the first camp called Upis.
ACCLIMATIZATION FOR THE AUSANGATE TREK
Since the Ausangate Trekking requires daily high mountain passes, at least three acclimatization treks are recommended before undertaking the magnificent adventure. The best way to achieve this goal is to do the day hikes to Cristo Blanco in the city of Cusco (3,700 m) and the Maras Moray trek, both of which are located at higher altitudes than Cusco.
Do not sabotage your trip in order to save a couple of days, it would be a bad decision. Altitude sickness can make your adventure an adverse experience. Therefore it is best to take the necessary precautions, that is, take the recommended time to get used to the altitude and then start this incredible route.
BEST TIME TO DO THE AUSANGATE TREK
The best season to trek the Ausangate region is from April to November. This is to maximize the amount of clear days, since most of the activities we recommend take place outdoors. However, the favorable weather attracts more hikers and if you want to enjoy these beautiful places without the crowds, it is recommended to make the hike in the last days of March or in the month of December. Keep in mind that you can hike Ausangate at any time of the year (if you do it on your own) and that prices increase (for agencies that offer the trek) due to low demand because it is more difficult to find daily departures.
January and February are the worst months to go on this adventure. Due to the constant rains (which is why the Inka Trail is not accessible during this season), hail and thunderstorms are also common and even become much more intense, making conditions more difficult and less enjoyable.
TAKING A TOUR VS. GOING ALONE
The advantages of scheduling a hike with a travel agency stand out at first glance, since they have a large staff of professional guides who safeguard the integrity of the adventurer throughout the tour, they take care of even the smallest details, sometimes cumbersome, so that travellers only have to worry about enjoying the entire journey and thus being able to make the most out of the experience. On the other hand, there is the possibility of doing the hike on your own. To carry out this trek safely, the necessary requirements are to have previously done treks above 4000 m., to have adequate equipment, to stock up on sufficient food supplies and to be fluent in Spanish and/or Quechua. In this way you can avoid misunderstandings, which as we know, happen anywhere in the world and give you the best experience and preparation for the demands of this trek.
In case you decide to make the trek without the timely provision of a travel agency, one key tip is to hire a muleteer and pack the necessary supplies and food in the pack animals. These can be hired while in Upis. Mario Turpo, a local resident and muleteer for more than 10 years, is a good choice because he knows the area like the back of his hand, as well as being fluent in Spanish and Quechua. His cell phone number is +5193535976.
Book your trip to Ausangate Trek here with an authorized travel agency.
CLIMATE OF AUSANGATE
Due to the geographical conditions of the Andes, the weather here can be and almost always is unpredictable, and the Ausangate Trek trek includes a temperature oscillation between 10-20º C during the day if it is sunny, to 5-10ºC during the day if it is not sunny. Being at high altitude it is not hot but the sun is intensely strong which makes this condition the biggest battle. On the other hand, the temperature drops significantly in the afternoon and especially at night, reaching -10°C or even lower in the dry season. That is why warm clothing and sleeping bags are required for this hike.
The repercussions of global warming are not unknown in this area of the Andes causing unexpected rains in the dry season. Considering this phenomenon, we suggest the use of waterproof clothing and also the use of covers of the same material to cover your belongings (portable electronic devices and other equipment and clothing) that are transported in the pack animals, in order to protect them and avoid damage due to possible downpours. In addition to the use of this material, it is suggested to arm yourself with plastic or several Ziploc plastic bags (the agency that provides the services will sually provide these), and by taking into account these precautions, in this way the tour will be much more pleasant.
In case you are hiking on your own, make sure you prepare and supply yourself with of all the necessary equipment to undertake the tour in the unseasonable rains.
ENTRANCES TO AUSANGATE
The journey to Ausangate includes the transit through several communities and these communities are responsible for the maintenance of the route, as well as offering camping services, bathrooms and even night guards, for which you have to pay (there are already stipulated rates). Obviously, a guided hike may or may not include the respective payment of these fees, so be clear about this before contracting the services of a travel agency.
Entrance fees for Ausangate Trek 4 Days
* Community of Upis: Camping and passage of its territory S /. 10 per person
* Community Huayna Ausangate: camping Puca Cocha S /. 10 per person
* Chillca Community: camping and passage of its territory S /. 15 per person
* Kayrawiri Sector: Visit Rainbow Mountain S /. 20 per person
* Chilliwani Community: Visit Red Valley S /. 10 per person
* Hot springs of Upis: S /. 5 per person
* Pampa Chiri Community: Visit Rainbow Mountain and camping S /. 20 per person
CHOOSING AUSANGATE TREK
You can choose between two types of tour for this extraordinary Ausangate trek: short (2-4 days) and long (5-7 days). If you have time, we strongly suggest you to choose the 5-7 day option because that itinerary offers you more time to explore views and landscapes that will leave you speechless.
Ausangate Trek complete (5-7 days)
The charm of the long treks, which encompass the complete circuit, is that you can appreciate the variety of high peaks from multiple angles, as well as traversing mountain passes, at least one and even up to two per day, of altitudes from 4,000 m (13,000 ft) to 5,200 m (17,600 ft).
Ausangate short trek (2-4 days)
These shorter routes, also known as Mini Ausangate Treks, are intended to provide hikers with a “better” sample of the Ausangate region in a short and intense span. The tendency of this route focuses on circulating around the Puka Qocha Lake, the Ausangate Glacier and Rainbow mountain.
DO YOU GET TO SEE INCREDIBLE SCENERY EVERY DAY?
The rewards of Ausangate every day and its entire route, which is above the tree line, include panoramic views of this region’s beautiful mountain scenery, clearly a magnificent opportunity for those who love to take pictures and immerse themselves in spectacular nature.
LEAVING YOUR LUGGAGE BEHIND DURING THE TREK
Most accommodations and travel agencies will allow you to leave your large suitcases or luggage in their storage for the time you are doing the Ausangate trek and then you pick them up on your return journey to Cusco.
HOW DIFFICULT IS THE AUSANGATE TREK?
One of the reasons why the Ausangate trek is considered difficult is precisely because of the high altitude you are hiking at on this trek. It is probably not suitable for hikers who have recently decided to start hiking. Therefore, it is recommended that you have previously done moderate trekking and ideal at least one high altitude trek over 4000m.
AUSANGATE TREK CAMPSITES AND SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS
Four local communities manage campsites along the Ausangate trekking routes. Previously, hikers were able to set up their campsites anywhere and free of charge. As they saw that their properties were affected by hikers leaving garbage, which affects health and the environment, the local people set up the camping system. This has generated jobs and the possibility of economic growth thanks to tourism plus it’s a great way for travellers to give back to the local community. In this way, mutualism has made trekking an increasingly attractive activity in this circuit.
The most common practice for this trek is to camp in tents along the way. As it is a relatively new camping system established by the communities, the campsites are still basic and located in remote areas, so the possibility of finding stores (minimarkets) or other services is virtually none. In general there is a place to set up tents and the toilet facilities are rustic. There is no drinking water in the campsites and showering will have to be postponed until the end of the trek (Note: if you are on a fully supported trek, you agency will probably provide you with a basin of warm water in the morning to wash yourself).
CAMPING EQUIPMENT RENTAL IN CUSCO
If you prefer renting equipment in Cusco to taking it with you all over the world, we recommend two camping and trekking equipment rental stores located half a block from the main square.
- ROSL, is located at Procuradores # 394, Cusco 08000, Peru.
- SPEEDY GONZALES, is located at Procuradores # 393, Cusco 08000, Peru.
* Put your smartphone in airplane mode. There is no connectivity along the hike.
* Drink enough water, it is important when hiking at high altitude. It is recommended to drink at least two to three liters per day at high altitudes. There are many streams and rivers along the route, but we recommend bringing water purification tablets. Due to the large number of alpacas and llamas throughout the mountains, there is no telling how clean the water is. Nothing could be much worse than getting sick at high altitude or having an upset stomach.
* Be hypervigilant of the weather. Conditions in the Andes, and especially at high altitude, can change at any time. Always have your warm clothes and waterproof jackets readily accessible. This is especially important when climbing up and over high passes.
* Have a first aid kit, equipment repair kit and blister treatment kit ready to carry in your pack.
* Bring a healthy amount of your favorite sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses and wear head and neck protection to help block the wind.
* This tour is not recommended for children because they may have trouble walking the distances involved. But if the child enjoys walking at high altitude, and has had previous positive experiences, he/she can do it.
* If you have medical problems you should consult your doctor and tell them that you want to or are planning a trek in the Peruvian Andes and the altitude is 5040 m (16,400 ft) above sea level and take their advice. If you have medications, you should take them with you to continue your treatment.
* The higher elevation also means colder, almost freezing temperatures, so be prepared. If you decide to do a multi-day trek be sure to wear very warm clothing.
WHAT TO BRING TO AUSANGATE TREK:
* Day pack with a rain cover.
* Torch / headlamp.
* Extra socks (wool is best).
* Hiking pants and layers of shirts.
* Rain pants.
* Bathing suit.
* Camping shoes / sandals: to wear in the evenings.
* Camping pillow.
* Waterproof trekking shoes.
* Warm clothing (thermal underwear, polar fleece, hat and gloves).
* Plastic poncho.
* Synthetic or cotton clothing (pants, shorts, T-shirts).
* Sun hat and sun glasses.
* Lip balm.
* Camera / extra battery.
* Water bottles such as Nalgene.
* Basic medicines.
* Soap, toothbrush and toothpaste.
* Walking sticks.
* Personal belongings.
* Medical kit (for emergencies)
* Electricity and charging batteries.
* Personal snacks.
* Cash (if you wish to buy souvenirs).