Located about 100 km. southeast of the city of Cusco, this route covers a daily distance of about 10 to 12 kilometers, at an elevation between 4,300 and 5,200 meters above sea level.
Four comfortable cozy Eco-lodges designed in harmony with the surroundings and strategically located for great views complement this adventure. These are some of the highest altitude lodges in the world that are well-appointed with quality features. In these unique “Tambos” or Andean Lodges, daily meals will be prepared by experienced chefs who will introduce you to a great variety of delicious Peruvian dishes and produce. For your entertainment, musicians from the neighbouring communities will liven up some of our evenings at the “tambos” with traditional music.
Llamas and horses that will carry our gear will accompany our treks. (Feel free to have a look at our blog about Hiking with Llamas if interested). These are owned by herders of the community of Chillca who will show their innate loving care, meanwhile, they actively participate in all the operations and proudly share their land with us, as well as the Spirit of their inspiring world.
If you are passionate about hiking but unsure whether this long trek might be too demanding for you, we offer other hiking tours that might fit your needs more. You can also choose one of our experiences that combine the beautiful mountains with a more cultural experience, such as our Complete Vicos Experience with Pachamanca.
Should you still be in doubt after looking at these suggestions, don´t hesitate to contact us and use our Custom Itineraries Service. We´ll be happy to help you out!
We will have an early departure (pick up: 8.00 am in your hotel in Cusco) to travel in our comfortable coach bus along the Vilcanota River, visit the temple of Checacupe and then continue our way through the upper valley of Pitumarca. At Japura, we’ll trek a short distance to Chillca. Community members and local musicians will greet us as we arrive at our first Andean Lodge, sharing their native Andean music while we sip coca tea. Our 8 double rooms have hot showers and full bathrooms. The lodge features tasty, healthy Andean cuisine, such as Alpaca steak, with vegetarian dishes and other dining options available.
After breakfast, we trek along the glacier valley of Phinaya, seeing hundreds of alpacas and llamas. On the way to the glaciers at Mt. Santa Catalina, the trail leads past the breathtaking Pjachaj waterfall. Our picnic lunch awaits us above. Then, surrounded by moraine walls, glaciers and lakes, we walk about 5 hours to the Machuracay Lodge. Your bags are carried by llama caravan. At the lodge, we’re met by the native family that manages it.
Today, we take on our first mountain pass (5,100 m / 16,587 ft) enjoying spectacular panoramic views. Descending alongside the glaciers, we hike to Ausangate Cocha Lake where we’ll have lunch. Here, the landscape shifts dramatically, transforming into red sandstone formations where we’ll see vicuñas and occasional condors. After a great day of hiking, we arrive at the third Andean Lodge to relax, take in the splendid views and enjoy a restful night.
After breakfast, we hike the trail up to the next mountain pass. Dropping down, we hike past Lake Kayrawiri, surrounded by rugged mountain peaks and the great valley below. Colorful bands of soil adorn the hillsides. Then, we continue on to Laya Grande Hill via the massive Glacier del Inca, to encounter the amazing colors of soil strata at Mt. Vinicunca (the world-renowned “Rainbow Mountain”). We have lunch there, with time for photos and a rest stop in this spectacular landscape. On our way to our fourth Andean Lodge we might see hundreds of Andean geese nesting in the cliffs of Anta. Hiking past the flatiron formations of Mt. Apu Labrayani, we arrive at Huampococha Lodge, where we’ll spend the night in comfort.
We hike up enjoying an outstanding view of the mountains to reach the top of the last pass. It’s an easy downhill from here. We hike past the strange shapes of a Karst limestone rock forest and continue to the end of the trail at Trapiche. There, we have lunch and return by bus to Cuzco (drop off at 16.00 pm at your hotel), reminiscing about the unforgettable experiences we’ve shared in the Andes.
The aim of these Eco Lodges is to achieve sustainable and inclusive development in the Ausangate region in harmony with the cultural vision of indigenous communities. Therefore, they have been working intensely to preserve and safeguard the natural wealth, ancestral knowledge and traditional forms of work of these peoples.
In addition, they have an operations team made up of local community members trained as guides, guardians, kitchen, housekeeping and maintenance staff. They also work with women weavers from the community: carriers of ancestral knowledge.
Like RESPONS, they are committed to the practice of responsible, inclusive and equitable tourism that contributes to the sustainable development of the communities involved in our field of operation.
The different lodges where you will be housed do not generate any electricity (only one of them does, using solar panels). They use water from nearby sources very sparsely and have their own composter for organic waste. Other waste is taken back to Cusco, where it goes to its designated place.
Yes, it definitely is. As mentioned in the Day-to-day description, this tour includes a lot of hiking and takes you to high altitudes. Fortunately, the landscapes make it worth it! So, you should feel fit enough to go on this trek and, most importantly, you should acclimatize before doing it.
During the hike, make sure to always stay hydrated and wear a hat or cap to protect yourself from the sun. You might consider bringing some Coca leaves as well. Chewing on them can help with the altitude. Should you still feel unwell at any point during the trek, don´t hesitate to talk to your guide and they will be happy to help you out.
The acclimatization period is very important for our travelers to enjoy the experience. We suggest a minimum of 3 or 4 days of a previous stay in Cusco city of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Have a look at our Cusco Day Tours to see how you can spend your time while acclimatizing!
Our first lodge, Chilca Tambo, is located 4,368 meters (14.270 feet) above sea level. This is the lowest altitude in our trail, which is ideal to start the journey and acclimatize. Machuracay Tambo, our second lodge, is probably one of the highest in the world, located at 4,815 meters (15.800 feet) above sea level. It’s the closest to the Apu Ausangate. Anantapata Tambo welcomes you with its impressive landscapes at 4,750 meters (15.600 feet) above sea level. Huampococha Tambo, our last lodge, lies at an altitude of 4,800 meters (15.750 feet) above sea level. In addition, the highest point of our routes is reached on the third day at the Palomani Pass, at 5,150 meters (16.900 feet) above sea level.
You are gettin up pretty high on this trek, so you´ll experience the real Anean climate. That means the sun can be very strong during the day, but temperatures drop considerably as soon as the sun sets. Make sure you prepare for both!
The company makes the greatest efforts to make sure this is a safe and unforgettable experience. For this reason, we have designed a biosafety protocol under international standards. In addition, the lodge’s staff, and trekking guides are constantly in constant communication with the central office through satellite phones, ensuring the welfare of each passenger. Our guides are trained in rescue techniques and first aid in outdoor emergencies. They take courses annually. At all times we have oxygen and first aid equipment, in the lodges and on the route, as well as a mountain Hyperbaric chamber in the second lodge. A medical director will answer our questions 24 hours a day in case of any eventuality. In addition to the animals who carry the luggage, we have horses to help tired walkers. We recommend getting a travel insurance
Yes, you will go on this excursion only with the people you booked it with!
For questions about booking a tour, prices, preparation for your trip, health and safety or other themes, please check our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you can’t find your question & answer, email us and we’ll add it!
I was born and raised in Cusco. I am a tourism professional, passionate about traveling and exploring new environments and cultures. In regard to this tour, I will be your point of contact. ¡Mucho gusto!
I love sharing the inspiring world of my culture with visitors, those memorable and authentic adventures, which at the same time generate benefits for local populations.
I had the opportunity to spend a part of my childhood near the indigenous communities of Ausangate in Cusco and to be part of their customs and lifestyle. I believe that responsible tourism is an excellent tool to support the sustainable development of high Andean vulnerable populations.