How To Hike The Picturesque Ausangate Trek

Ausangate Trek Guide

In this guide, you will find practical suggestions for preparing for the multi-day Ausangate Trek. The ideal time to attempt the trek, safety advice, and other very useful information are listed below. Attempting this multi-day trek without a guide is only recommended to experienced hikers with confidence in their skills and abilities. There is, of course, always the option to hike the Ausangate trek with a guide and a scheduled tour group.

When is the Best Time to Hike the Ausangate Trek?

April through October are the busiest months for hiking Ausangate. The two main seasons in Peru are dry and rainy. The dry season typically lasts from May to October, and the rainy season lasts from November to April.

The dry season is, of course, less rainy. The nights, however, are considerably colder. Some parts of the trek might even be partially covered in snow during those chilly nights.

Water will be harder to come by during the dry season so always have enough water with you!

Ausangate Trek

Keep in mind that the weather is unpredictable, volatile, and subject to sudden changes at these altitudes. Sunny skies can be quickly replaced by rain clouds and lightning. The weather is completely unpredictable in the area surrounding the powerful mountain. We checked the weather a few days in advance, but it’s very difficult to predict, making it a risky proposition to undertake the Ausangate trek alone.

Having said that, we completed the entire Ausangate trek in the final week of September, and the weather was fantastic. While we occasionally had snow and the nights were a little warmer, there was never enough for us to lose the trail. Fresh snowfall in the morning at Rainbow Mountain added to the dramatic scenery.

The trekking route will be extremely muddy and less enjoyable in the rainy season. The Ausangate Trek can be completed successfully during the shoulder season.

Ausangate Trek

How Difficult Is The Ausangate Trek?

The Ausangate Trek is moderately challenging because it includes several mountain passes that are as high as 16,404 feet. For this trek, it is best to have prior experience with multi-day hikes in mountainous terrain. Due to its length and many sections’ high altitudes, the Ausangate trail is categorized as a Grade C trek.

As you’ll be trekking over numerous uneven sections, you’ll need to be in good physical and mental shape. Additionally, in a short period of time, the elevation can change significantly. Although the trail itself is fairly clear and well-maintained, the weather in these mountains can be erratic. In these parts, blizzard conditions are not unheard of.

I advise reading up on Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and how to recognize and treat the condition because the trek includes a number of high points. Avoid rushing through your trek; it’s better to go slowly and steadily when descending a steep mountain pass. 

Hiking the trail

Safety Notes of Hiking the Ausangate Trek Without a Guide

Adventurers looking to enjoy one of Peru’s most scenic hikes, which continues to top the list of the most beautiful treks in the entire world, should consider this incredible multi-day trek. Risk is a part of beauty. This journey is difficult!

After leaving the small town of Upis, there are not many “villages.” Pack enough supplies, including water sources, for the number of days you intend to spend hiking. Usually consisting of just one or two shepherd homes, these settlements are frequently deserted but the water supply was frequently operational.

Mountain views along the trail

What is the Altitude of Ausangate Trek Like?

The elevation is absurd. I’ll reiterate that this trek never descends lower than 14,000 feet! Many of the treacherous passes reach heights of more than 16,000 feet. Be prepared to respect the mountains because they are Apus, or Gods, to the indigenous people. By the way, Ausangate’s majestic mountain rises to a staggering 20,945 feet.

A local custom is to offer Coca leaves to the mountains in exchange for their protection and gratitude.

Lakes along the trail

Do I Need a Tent to Hike Ausangate Trek?

Yes, the Ausangate trek is in a remote area, and there is really no way to avoid using a tent. Renting a tent is an option, but those without the right equipment would be better by choosing a tour or guide that is pre-arranged. Along the path, there are a few covered shelters, but it’s best not to rely on them. Many of these shelters along the Ausangate trek route have recently started to disappear as more people choose camping in the wilderness.

Shelters along the trail

How to Reach Ausangate from Cusco

Public transportation is available from Cusco to Tinki, where the Ausangate trailhead is located. The buses that leave for Tinki from Cusco stop directly across from the Coliseo Cerrado Casa de la Juventud stadium. The Tinki village is where these buses drop off passengers after a 3 hour journey.

The best choice after arriving in Tinki is to take a taxi from the plaza to the Ausangate trek’s “trailhead.” Nearly all taxis decline to go there, even though the official trail starts just past the small village of Upis.

The village of Upis is divided into two sections, and taxis typically stop between them. They will drop off “as close as they can” to Upis, which will require a minimum 3-mile (4.8-kilometer) walk on a gravel road to get to the trailhead. The driver might drop you closer to the farther Upis if you give him some extra money. Before getting in the car, make sure to negotiate this.

Lakes along the Ausangate Trek

Ausangate Trek Scenery And Wildlife

Of all the hiking routes in Peru, the Ausangate trail has some of the most breathtaking scenery. Glaciers and mossy passes enhance this route’s ethereal atmosphere. You will travel through small towns where time has stood still.

The trek offers a variety of wildlife, such as vicunas and soaring condors. Keep an eye out for chinchillas climbing among the boulders. And if you’re very fortunate, you might even see a puma.

Widlife on the trail

Are Inca Sites Found on the Ausangate Trek?

The Ausangate trek does not include any Inca ruins, in contrast to the majority of well-known treks close to Cusco.  But one of the most revered Gods in the Cuzco region is thought to be the Apu Ausangate. The powerful Mountain Gods are known as Apus.

At an astounding 20,945 feet, Ausangate Mountain is one of Peru’s tallest mountains. In the Cusco region, it is considered to be the highest mountain and one of Peru’s most incredible natural landmarks.

Therefore, even though the Ausangate Trek does not include any well-known Inca sites, the entire region is regarded by Indigenous People as one of the most sacred places.

View along the trail

Can I Hike The Ausangate Trek Without A Guide?

Ausangate can be hiked without a guide. This is much riskier but also ends up being much less expensive. I don’t advise this option for inexperienced trekkers due to its difficulty and remote location.

On the Ausangate Trek, only 5% of hikers hike alone. These hikers are prepared with the right gear and have prior high-altitude trekking experience. You must be entirely self-reliant if you intend to hike Ausangate without a guide. It is challenging to locate lodging along the way and you must therefore transport your own food and camping supplies.

For the majority of people, a guided trek is preferable. Groups are typically small, if not entirely private. The fact that you won’t have to worry about bringing food or making meals is another advantage of booking through a company. You can fully concentrate on taking in the scenery along the trail.

Stunning mountain views

What Does It Cost To Hike The Ausangate Trek?

Ausangate Trek Cost With A Company

The Ausangate Trek costs significantly differ between businesses. This holds true for all Cusco-based trekking tours. In general, you should budget between $450 and 850 for this trail. This covers guides, camping supplies as well as meals and transportation.

Unguided Ausangate Trek Cost

It is significantly less expensive to hike the Ausangate Trek alone. In essence, your expenses will be limited to transportation costs, meals, and equipment rental.

Completing the trail solo requires a lot more planning. However, if you are an experienced multi-day trekker, this could be rewarding.

Wildlife along the trail

Helpful Tips

A local gave us advice to keep our gear close and even sleep with our bags inside our tents at the trailhead. Although we never had a problem, we respected and appreciated his cautions. Always be wary of leaving behind equipment, especially if you plan to hike out and back to Rainbow Mountain.

The entrance fees and land fees are additional considerations of hiking the Ausangate trek alone. These costs may or may not be incurred. Although there may not be an entrance fee for the park or its main attractions, some locals may charge a small fee for using the shelters or for using specific trails. 

It’s important to note that as the Ausangate trek gains in popularity, locals are more likely to demand entrance fees before allowing them to walk along particular stretches of the trail. It’s best to travel with small Soles notes.

The best piece of advice I can give is to bring extra small bags of coca leaves on your trip. These leaves are a requirement when asking for pictures and can be used as gifts for the locals. Keep in mind that many of these villagers don’t or only speak rudimentary Spanish. Always get consent before taking a picture.