Nevado Ausangate : One of the best hikes in Peru !

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February 27, 2023
Nevado ausangate

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You want to live a unique experience, see breathtaking landscapes and leave your comfort zone! But you are still hesitating about the different treks to do in Peru, and need advice to know if it is possible to leave without a guide.

The Nevado Ausangate trek is an incredible experience that few travelers dare to do given its difficulty and its logistics, which makes it one of the best hikes in Peru (off the beaten track) !

1. Overview of Ausangate Trekking

The Nevado Ausangate trek
is a high altitude trek in the mountains near Cusco, Peru, covering a total distance of 70 kilometers with an average altitude of over 4,000 meters .

Unlike most other treks in the region, Nevado Ausangate is not an Inca ruin, but beautiful landscapes; snowy peaks, glaciers, colorful mountain lakes and rainbow mountains. If you like beautiful nature, off the beaten track and love hiking, then this is the hike for you.

Nevado Ausangate is one of the best hikes in Peru, but also one of the most scenic. If you have any questions about hiking Nevado Ausangate on your own, please read this article, we hope it will help you decide whether to hike independently or guided.

  • Total distance - 70 km / 43 miles
  • Number of days required - 4 to 5 days
  • Departure/arrival - Tinki.
  • Average elevation - Over 4000 meters / 13123 feet
  • Highest point - Arapa Pass - 4850 m/16000 ft; Palomani Pass - 5165 m/17000 ft

2. The legend of the Nevado Ausangate mountain ?

Culminating to nearly 6400 meters, the Nevado Ausangate is the highest mountain of the region of Cusco and marks the beginning of the Cordillera Vilcanota, a segment of the Peruvian Andes which extends on 120 km.

Protagonist of legends told through generations since the Inca period, the Nevado Ausangate is still venerated as a divinity (called apu) by the inhabitants of its surroundings. After 5 days of walking in its "territory", breathless in front of the grandeur of its snow walls or the exotic turquoise of its glacial lagoons, impossible not to have at least a little reverence for the Ausangate apu.

3. Tips for the Nevado Ausangate Trek

1. Difficulty

You’ll be hiking for around 6-7 hours a day, sleeping in tents overnight, and contending with freezing conditions at times. Yet when determining just how difficult the Nevado Ausangate trek is, it really all comes down to personal preference.

Do not neglect acclimatization during your Nevado Ausangate trek! The minimum attitude at the departure of Tinke, is already at almost 3800 meters. The highest - on the classic tour - is at 5100 meters on the Palomani pass. If you have the possibility, we advise you to test yourself on a first trek in moderate altitude (like the trek of Salkantay or the Inca trail). The other possibility is to spend a few days in Cusco and then to begin your trek by stopping at the first camp of the Nevado Ausangate trek - Upis - to allow your body to adapt to the change of altitude.

2. Altitude Sickness

The Nevado Ausangate trek is not like some other high altitude treks like the Everest Base Camp trek or the Annapurna Loop, where you start at a lower altitude and gradually increase in altitude. The entire route of the Nevado Ausangate trek is over 4000 meters, which means good adaptability is the key here.

Many people suffer from altitude sickness when they take the bus from Lima or the Amazon to Cusco. This is normal if you travel from low altitude to over 3000 meters by plane or car. It takes time for our bodies to adapt to the reduced amount of oxygen due to altitude, the higher you go and the lower the air pressure, the less oxygen you can get.

What are the symptoms of altitude Sickness ?

There are three types of altitude sickness: mild altitude sickness, OPHA and OCHA - the last two are fatal. Mild altitude sickness is the first stage, and it can become fatal if you don't take precautions. Mild altitude sickness feels like a hangover; headache, nausea, fatigue. Many people experience this during their first few days in Cusco.

How to prevent it ?

  • Rest and sleep the first few days in Cusco, do not walk too much, do not exercise.
  • Drink enough water. The inhabitants of Peru and Bolivia drink a lot of "coca tea", a hot drink made of leaves, which is thought to help acclimatize.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • If you skip acclimatization at low altitude, don't go any higher, you won't acclimatize again.
  • Try to sleep at low altitude - "go high, sleep low".

3. Best time to go

The best time is from May to October, the dry season, but during this period you can enjoy the nature and the magic of Cusco.

4. The Different Nevado Ausangate Trek Itineraries :

Like many itineraries, there are many variations for the Nevado Ausangate trek.  In 4, 5, 6 or 7 days, it is easy to modulate the route so that it adapts best to your desires.

  • The classic tour in 4 days
  • The classic tour with a detour to the Rainbow Mountains in 5 days.
  • The 7 day trek to fully immerse yourself in the Ausangate mountains (highly recommended!)

In this case, we have chosen to explain the classic 4 day tour :

Day One

Your Nevado Ausangate climb starts in Tinki, the greatest town close the mountain itself. You’ll be climbing up to Upis, the area of your to begin with campsite on the Nevado Ausangate path. It’s a genuine treat as there are a few excellent hot springs for splashing those fatigued limbs.

Nevado Ausangate trek - Upis Camp, at 4200m
Upis Camp, at 4200m

Day Two

Today is where the challenge starts as you handle your to begin with 5000m (16,400 ft) pass. You’re truly at tall elevation presently! Crossing the pass takes you to Nevado Ausangate Lake, where you’ll camp for the night.

Nevado Ausangate trek - Paso Arapa, at 4850m
Paso Arapa, at 4850m
Nevado Ausangate trek
Descent in a valley lined with lagoons of various colors.
Nevado Ausangate trek
A point of view
Nevado Ausangate trek
Sunset from the camp

Day Three

Nevado Ausangate treks truly come into their claim on the third day. You’ll be climbing to Jampa after overcoming another 5000m pass. Most individuals spend the night here, but sharp trekkers with vitality to save now and then press on to Pacchanta, another inaccessible Andean town within the zone. You may proceed to Pacchanta, crossing a last tall height pass. The exertion is worth it, with unused hot springs and nearby brew to celebrate your achievement.

Nevado Ausangate trek - Palomani pass, with 5200m
Ice and snow covered the way to Palomani pass, with 5200m

Day Four

Nowadays you return to Tinki, where it all started. From there, you say farewell to the grand Nevado Ausangate mountain as you drive back to Cusco. You will want to arrange many days of rest within the city some time recently proceeding your investigations in Peru.

Nevado Ausangate trek
View of one of the beautiful lakes you will cross

5. Guided tour vs independent trek ?

Nevado Ausangate is considered the most difficult and remote hike in the region, and if you are new to trekking, we highly recommend that you do the trek with a company that will organize everything and guide you along the route. If you are an experienced trekker, have done high altitude treks before and have acclimatized well, go for it yourself. Here are our pros and cons for self-guided and guided hikes.

Nevado Ausangate trek with guide

Many trekkers prefer to leave the planning and logistics to an experienced company that knows the area well. Travel Differently connect you with professional hikers who can guide you through the beauty of this incredible trek ! Check out our offer, all you have to do is reserve your spot !

Advantages :

  • It's less stressful, it doesn't involve any planning or preparation, just find a good reliable company and they will arrange everything for you.
  • The ride is easier, you just carry your backpack and the horse transfers the rest.
  • If you are traveling alone, riding in a group is more fun than riding alone in the mountains (not everyone can do it).
  • Some of your money goes to the local community; guides, cooks, muleteers (although a small portion).

Disadvantages :

  • It is more expensive, in fact much more expensive.
  • You may have bad luck with a group or a guide who will ruin your hike.

Nevado Ausangate trek without guide

If you do it independently, it is very cheap, especially if you have your own camping equipment; no paid accommodation, no big tickets, the only cost; transportation (bus) round trip and food for the hike.

  • Transportation (Bus Cusco-Tinqui-Cusco) - 20 Sol/$6 round trip.
  • Shopping (food, gas) - 100 Sol/$30.
  • Entrance fee - 10 Sol/$3, there is a small kiosk at the exit of Tinki where you can pay the entrance fee to the park, you don't know which park it is, but it looks somewhat official.
  • Equipment rental (optional) - Costs between 160 sol/$50 and 260 sol/$80 depending on what you rent. If you plan to do a few hikes in Peru or South America, we recommend bringing your own gear, or renting it locally if it's only one or two hikes.
  • Total: 130 Sol/40$ + equipment rental.

6. Comparaison with other treks

Ausangate trek vs Salkantay trek

The Salkantay journey is the favored elective course to Machu Picchu after the Classic Inca Trail. It’s a lovely climb, but you'll discover yourselves shaking for space with swarms of other climbers in crest season, which isn’t why you’ve come to the Andes! On the other hand, the Nevado Ausangate journey could be a marvelous off-the-beaten-path Peru experience. In spite of its expanding notoriety, Nevado Ausangate remains calm, and the view is more wonderful, as well, in our humble supposition!

Ausangate trek vs Choquequirao trek

There’s no getting around the reality that the Ausangate Circuit may be a trouble some journey, basically due to the height and cold conditions. The Choquequirao journey is lower in elevation but does include parts of up and down each day which is harder for individuals who aren’t sharp on climbing. Out of the two, we figure it’s likely less demanding to appreciate the Nevado Ausangate trekking involvement, so long as you have got an master direct and high-quality gear to combat the extraordinary climate.

Ausangate trek vs Huahuash trek

The Huayhuash trek presents some incredible views, especially if you follow the basic route and add two more days to leave from Llamac and go through the Jauaccocha lake, you won't be disappointed. Ausangate presents a more particular atmosphere to him, one believes himself a little alone on the trek, I would say a little less impressive level of view. But it is also possible to add two more days to make the loop until the rainbow mountain.

If you want to travel to Peru and hike the Nevado Ausangate, you will love our following articles too :

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