Ausangate and Machu Picchu

AUSANGATE AND MACHU PICCHU

  • DURATION
  • 10 DAYS
  • DIFICULTY
  • TOUGH
  • GROUP SIZE
  • UP TO 12

The Ausangate trek is for those who love big mountain scenery. Dominating the Cusco valley, Ausangate stands at 6384m/ 20,945ft. You will cross 5200m/ 17060ft passes, camp beside turquoise lakes, and wake each day to the first rays of sun falling on the glacier above.

This remote region is home to colorfully dressed alpaca and llama herders, who make a living from this harsh but stunning region. If you have the time to acclimatize, and like your treks to be tough and wild, then the Ausangate trek is a perfect choice.

TRIP OVERVIEW

Our trip will start in Cusco, where we will begin the acclimatization period for the 5 day trek through Ausangate. Upon arrival we will transfer to our hotel in the Sacred Valley and visit some sites along the way, including a Llama/Alpaca farm. Traveling to the valley will give us an opportunity to do a bit more on our first day than we could at Cusco City’s higher altitude; that said, we should all take it relatively easy. Once we check into our hotel we can take a brief walking tour of Ollantaytambo, or simply relax in this charming city as our bodies get used to the altitude.

On our second day we will venture out for our our first hike of the trip, a short walk (7km) from Pumamarca to Ollantaytambo. A transport will pick us up early in the morning for a quick drive to visit the Pumamarca ruins before we begin the descent back to Ollantaytambo. After lunch we will depart via train to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes) for our next day visit to Machu Picchu.

Unlike other trips, we’ll start with Machu Picchu first before our trek, this will allow more time to acclimate to the altitude. Waking up in Aguas Calientes will also afford us the opportunity to catch one of the first buses to the Sanctuary so we can explore the ruins before the crowds. Those who choose can climb Huayna Picchu to get a bird’s eye (Condor’s) view of the citadel. We will then descend back to Aguas Calientes for Lunch and catch an afternoon train to Cusco where we will spend the next day visiting some of the local city attractions, including Sacsayhuaman, Tambo Machay, the Cathedral and the Qoricancha temple. Our time here will further help us acclimate to the altitude in anticipation to our trek.

Our fifth day brings the anticipated start of our Ausangate Trek. After an early start we will drive to the trailhead where we will meet our support team, enjoy an early lunch, and set out for the first hike of the trek, a gentle uphill climb to our first campsite. Over the next four days we will venture deeper, and higher into Ausangate and experience some “big mountain scnery until we finally finish our trek on day 9. A waiting transport will ferry us back to Cusco where we can recuperate before the next day’s flight home.

Those who choose can spend a couple of extra days (recommended) in either Cusco or Lima to cap off an excellent adventure.

Rainbow over Cuzco Airport

TRAVEL DETAILS

Our trip begins and ends in Cusco. You should plan on arriving on May 25, 2020 to check into our hotel in the Sacred Valley in the city of Ollantaytambo. All flights to Cusco will have to go through Lima’s International Airport.

Schedule flights to/from Lima (LIM) and then Cusco (CUZ)

Arrival Date: TBD
Departure Date: TBD
Price: $2,500 (does not include airfare to and from Cusco)

Pick-up: Plan on arriving at Cusco’s airport on DATE/TIME TBD
Drop-off: We will coordinate transportation from the hotel to the airport once we know your departure information.

The trip price includes transfers from and to the airport.

TRIP DETAILS

On arrival in Cusco airport please proceed to the baggage hall. At the exit to the building our guide will be waiting for us with a sign at the barrier outside the arrivals gate. Please ensure you purchase any last minute essentials or change money in the airport before heading off to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

On the way we will have the opportunity to visit the cameloid farm of Awana Kancha. Awana Kancha is the place to see different members of the cameloid family (Llamas, Alpacas, Vicuñas, Guanacos) and also learn about local dyeing and weavings techniques. We will then continue to Pisac where these is an option to visit the impressive Inca ruins before exploring the popular artesanal market.

Note: on your first days at altitude we do recommend you take it easy.

Our guide will then drop us off and help you check in to your Sacred Valley hotel.

This short hike is great to experience both Inca culture and the living culture of Peru today. The area is still a very traditional farming area.

First you drive to the the ruins of Pumamarca, half an hour above Ollantaytambo. You can learn about its history and purpose with your guide.

Then you follow an old Inca Trail down the steeply terraced valley towards Ollantaytambo. Depending on the time of year, you may see people ploughing with oxen, or harvesting by hand. Or perhaps just the colourfully dressed locals walking down to town, from the communities above, where most still wear traditional clothing.

You can then explore the old streets of this Ollantaytambo with its narrow cobbled passageways and ever present Inca walls.

Hike details: 6km, approx. 3 hours – Ascent 50m, Descent 600m, maximum altitude 3400m

After lunch we will catch a train to Machu Picchu Town (formerly known as Aguas Calientes), this journey follows along the impressive Urubamba river to the base of Machu Picchu itself. Arriving in Machu Picchu Pueblo you will be transferred to your hotel for the night.

Today we explore the pinnacle of Inca engineering – Machu Picchu. We will set out as early as possible to catch one of the first buses to the Sanctuary to beat the crowds.

For years, Machu Picchu was lost to the jungle. Rediscovered in 1911 by the Yale professor Hiram Bingham, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu exceeds all expectations.

This astounding site lies in an even more astonishing location. Perched high on an inaccessible hilltop it is protected by huge cliffs and the raging Urubamba river. Things are slightly easier now than in the time of the Incas and so you start your day with a twenty minute bus ride up to the site.

The guided tour takes around two hours leaving you a few hours free to wander amongst the old Inca walls and just sit and take in the scale of the place on your own. For those who want to walk a bit more, you could take the hour long trail up to the Sun Gate, or a shorter trail to visit the Inca Bridge which once spanned a sheer cliff face.

Eventually the time comes to catch the bus down to Machu Picchu Pueblo and board your train back along the Urubamba River. The scenery is beautiful and the train jolts softly along, allowing you to sit, stare out the window and reflect on all you have seen.

Your entrance to Machu Picchu includes a permit to climb Huayna Picchu. This two hour round trip is up steep, exposed steps and not for the feint-hearted. However the rewards for your efforts is a truly unique and awe-inspiring “condor’s eye” view of the ruins. Well worth it if you can. This has set-departure times .

Lunch today is at the Indi Feliz – The best independent restaurant in Aguas Calientes.

After lunch we will catch a train back to Cusco.

Private Group Tour of Cusco

We will have an expert guide at our disposal to show us some of the highlights of this beautiful city. First we will visit the impressive site of Sacsayhuaman. Huge stone ramparts surround a beautiful grass amphitheater. Once the scene of fierce battles it now hosts the recreation of traditional Inca ceremonies such as Inti Raymi and Warachikuy.

Next is the Inca water temple of Tambo Machay lying at 3700m (12,000 feet). With its intricately carved water channels this is thought to have been used both for ritual cleansing as well as the worship of water. From here we will carry on down to Cusco, stopping at other historical sites such as the Temple of the Moon along the way. Once down in the town we start with the Plaza de Armas and a visit to its impressive cathedral or Qoricancha temple, once home to life sized statues in solid gold. If time permits, we can visit one of the bustling markets, full of tropical fruits fresh from the Amazon or visit the San Blas artisan district.

Cathedral and Qorikancha entrance

Lunch today will be in a beautifully converted colonial building just off the main square complete with an in house factory and museum dedicated to Peruvian Coffee production.

We’ll have a free evening to do as we wish.

After an early start we set off for the stunning drive to the trailhead, where we have a magnificent view of the awaiting Ausangate.

On arrival at Tinqui (3,800m) we meet our support team and enjoy an early lunch. We then set off for an afternoon of gentle up-hill walking past open puna, highland meadows and several water tables. We may be lucky enough to see viscachas (the long tailed highland rabbits), alpaca and llama herds, condors and Andean foxes before arriving at our campsite of Upis (4,400m). Here the hot springs, in the shadow of the snow covered Ausangate, provide a spectacular yet eerie camp setting.

After dinner the support team will ask us to join a ‘Jaiway’, where we can all make an offering to the mountain God of ‘Apu’ requesting a safe passage around the mountain.

The Ausangate area is famous for the quality of its weavings, created by local women. We will have a chance to meet some of these women on our trek, and learn more about their skilled craft.

Meals: Lunch, Dinner

Total Distance: 10km mainly uphill Altitude: 3800m – 4400m

After a morning’s sharp ascent, we skirt the western shoulder of Ausangate at Arapa pass (4,800m). The colourful moon-like rock formations are a stark contrast to the white beauty of Ausangate.

Our afternoon’s descent passes the spectacular Uchuy Pucacocha (little red lake) and its waterfalls before arriving at our campsite beside the red waters of Jatun Pucacocha (big red lake).

Total Distance: 10km – 5km up – 5km down Altitude: 4400m – 4800m – 4100m

A day of mainly steady ascent rewards us with the passes of Apuchata (4,900m) and Palomani (5,200m).

The beautiful azure lake of Ausangatecocha and the back view of Ausangate provide the backdrop for this fascinating but tough day. We pass through the traditional base camp used for mountain ascents before finishing with a descent to our campsite on the meadow below. Glacial moraines surround our campsite, at 4,510m.

Total Distance: 12km – 5km up – 1 km down – 3km up – 3 km down
Altitude: 4100m – 4900m – 4300m – 5200m – 4510m

Today we will ascend the broad green valley to the small lake of Ticllacocha. More viscachas and hopefully some rare vicuñas should accompany us on our journey.

Our last big pass, Campa pass, now lies before us. At 5050m, its glaciers, scree and snow make it the most impressive of all the passes and the first sight of its rugged beauty provides a truly big mountain expedition feel. We descend to the meadow below to camp at 4,650m.

Total Distance: 11km – 8km up – 3 km down Altitude: 4510m – 5050m – 4650m

This morning we have a gentle down-hill hike to the hot-springs at Pacchanta (4360m), where we have a chance to soak our exhausted muscles in the lovely hot water pools. Situated in local community they give us the chance to meet some of the local people and learn a little about the life they lead and weavings they are famous for.

We continue our hike down to Tinqui where we meet our vehicle for the return journey. We wave goodbye to the mules and begin the drive back to Cusco where hopefully hot showers and cold beers (or chilcanos) await.

Total Distance: 15km mainly downhill Altitude: 4650m – 4360m – 3800m

Farewell Peru

Transfer to the airport and head back home.

If you choose, you can extend your stay in Cusco, or as we recommend, spend a couple of days in Lima to enjoy some of the best cusiine in the world. We can make several restaurant recommendations should you choose to extend your stay in either city.

IS IT FOR ME?

Adventurers who wish to complete this trek should have a high level of fitness and be able to hike for extended periods of time at altitude. Our initial days in the Sacred Valley and Cusco should provide ample time to get ready for this arduous but highly rewarding adventure.

If you are interested in this adventure please contact us and we will add you to our trip information distribution list