A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek
Ausangate Trek Peru Treks

A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek

The Ausangate Trek is a 43 mile backpacking trip that runs through one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Andes. Starting at 12,000ft and reaching high passes close to 17,000ft, the Ausangate Trek reaches some seriously high elevations. Along the way, you'll pass by small villages, glacial lakes, towering snow capped peaks, and herds of alpacas. The Ausangate Trek is an adventure of a life time, and I'll be covering all of the details in this guide.

The Ausangate Trek is a 43 mile backpacking trip that runs through one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Andes. Starting at 12,000ft and reaching high passes close to 17,000ft, the Ausangate Trek reaches some seriously high elevations. Along the way, you’ll pass by¬†small villages, glacial lakes, towering snow capped peaks, ¬†and herds of alpacas. The Ausangate Trek is an adventure of a life time, and I’ll be covering all of the details in this guide.

A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek


Best Time To Go:

The climate in the Andes has a high level of variation based on season and elevation.  The optimal time to hike the Ausangate Trek is July and August, at the peak of the dry season. I hiked the Ausangate Trek in July and had mostly dry weather with only one short rain storm. The daily high was around 35 (F) and the nightly lows approached 0 (F).

  • The wet season in the Andes of Peru spans from November to March when the climate is warmest.
  • The sunny and dry season spans from April to October¬†and is the optimal time for backpacking and trekking. Expect cool days and very cold nights. Almost every night of my trek reached single digits (F).

A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek


Guided vs Independant Trekking:

For this¬†trip to Ausangate, Julia and I went with a guided tour from Alpaca Expeditions. I’m usually a do-it-yourself kind of backpacker, but wanted to get the most out of this trip without having to pack food, a tent, or¬†other items a self supported affair¬†would require. I’m really happy we¬†went with Alpaca Expeditions because our guide, Jose, was phenomenal. He taught us a lot about the history of the Andean people and the locals that live in the area. Our¬†chef was from the local village and cooked up regional meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Finally, one porter was assigned to horses that carried all of our gear from campsite to campsite. This allowed us to carry very light daypacks for¬†enjoyable daily hiking experiences. Having had this guided experience, I might go with a self supported trip next time to save on money and free up a little time. For a first time visitor, I would recommend a guided tour through Alpaca Expeditions.

Guided Pros:

  • Knowledgeable guides with information on the region
  • Regional meals and snacks
  • Most gear is provided and transported from campsite to campsite
  • Support of the local economy by giving porters jobs
  • Transportation to and from Cusco is provided

Guided Cons:

  • On a guided itinerary without much room for autonomy
  • Expensive at ~$800 per person

A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek


Directions And GPS Tracks:

  • To start the Ausangate Trek in Tinki, Peru, you’ll need to start in Cusco. There are a number of airlines that fly to Cusco. We flew in via American Airlines with a 2 hours layover in Lima. From Cusco, you’ll need to take a bus to the city of Tinki. For a guided tour this bus will be provided. If your tour is not guided, you will need to catch a public bus or charter a ride.
  • Download GPX
  • See track on Strava
  • See track on AllTrails

A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek


Hike Map And Elevation Profile:

A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek

A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek


Key Points:

  • Distance: 42.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain:¬†9406 ft
  • Minimum¬†Elevation:¬†12498¬†ft
  • Maximum Elevation:¬†16,828 ft
  • Time:¬†5 days
  • Permits: No
  • Visa: Single entry tourist visa to Peru for US citizens
  • Trail Condition:¬†Wide fired road on the start which narrows to single track and alpaca trails
  • Cell Phone Reception:¬†None

A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek


Gear, Food, and Water:

The gear you bring will be decided by your choice of going with a guided tour or not.¬†I’m not going to get too much into gear, food and water for self supported hikes because if you don’t already know what you should be bringing, you shouldn’t be going without a guide.

If you plan on going without a guide service, check out my John Muir Trail Gear Guide to see what I bring on a self supported backpacking trip. You can also see my John Muir Trail Food Guide. The only difference in my planning for a self supported trip of the Ausangate Trek would be to bring one more cold weather layer and a 0 degree sleeping bag.

If you plan on going with a guide service, make sure to check what they will be provided before you arrive. With Alpaca Expeditions, they provided food, water, tents, sleeping pads, and horse transportation for all of our things from site to site. The only things we needed to bring during the day were our hiking essentials. You can see what I bring with me on day hikes on my Essential Hiking Gear Guide. The exceptions to that list are that I would include rain pants, and an extra cold weather layer.

A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek


Safety Precautions:

The Ausangate Trek is in a very remote part of Peru with only small villages and no hospitals. Make sure to come prepared with the proper gear, and most importantly, proper fitness. If you’ve never hiked at altitude before, plan to start slow. If this is your only trip in Peru, take at least 48 hours to acclimatize in Cusco. Here are a few other things to consider:

  • If you’re not going with a guided group, make sure to leave a detailed itinerary with someone you’re close with.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated. When hiking at high elevation in cold weather, you will sweat much less than you are used to. Once you are dehydrated it is often too late. Mixing dehydration with elevation sickness can be a nasty combination
  • Familiarize yourself with the early signs of altitude sickness, and be proactive in your approach to combating these symptoms.Altitude sickness usually manifests itself with an early headache followed by dizziness and a loss of appetite.¬†¬†Don’t be afraid or too stubborn to stop.
  • Be hyper-vigilant of weather. The conditions can change by the hour at high elevation in the Andes. Always have your warm layers and waterproof layers readily accessible. This is especially important when heading up and over the high passes.
  • Have a first aid kit, gear repair kit, and blister treatment kit ready to go in your day pack.
  • Check your health care plan to see what kind of international coverage you have. Consider international travel insurance for the off chance¬†of a catastrophic event.
  • Although crime is not common, keep an eye on your belongings when passing through the small villages. You can also bring along small gifts to hand out to the children.
  • Make sure all water is boiled and properly treated. There are herds of alpaca and vicuna all throughout this region of the Andes. Treat all water as if it’s contaminated.

See My Documentary:

In this documentary I start out with my travels on the Salkantay Trek to Macchu Pichhu and follow with my experience on the Ausangate Trek. Please enjoy!


Hike Description:

 Ausangate Trek

 Miles (Elevation Gained)

 Campsite

 Day 1: Tinki to Upis  7.5 (2346 ft)  Upis
 Day 2: Upis to Pucacocha  10.25 (2946 ft)  Pucacocha
 Day 3: Pucacocha to Jampa  7.3 (2093 ft)  Jampa
 Day 4: Jampa to Pacchanta  10.6 (2073 ft)  Pacchanta
 Day 5: Pacchanta to Tinki 7 (272 ft)  None (Cusco)

Ausangate Trek Day 1

A few miles into our walk on day one, we stopped at a small village comprised of three one room adobe buildings with straw roofs. One was the house of our porter and chef. It was here that we ate lunch…

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Ausangate Trek Day 1


Ausangate Trek Day 2

We continued on from the pass and before me stood the most beautiful glacial lakes I had ever laid eyes on. They were a deep sapphire blue, surrounded by flickering blades of golden grass, set deep…

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A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek


Ausangate Trek Day 3

The views of painted hills and the valley floor below stole the breath from my lungs in a way that not even the high altitude was able to manage. This was truly heaven. Snow capped mountain peaks…

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Ausangate Trek Day 3


Ausangate Day 4-5

The wind started to howl in a constant flow of air, like it was forced from a broken main. The cold wind couldn‚Äôt dampen our spirits though, we stood there for quite some time enjoying what would be our…

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A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek


I'm Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

12 comments on “A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek

  1. Spectacular! Thanks so much for introducing me to this hike. Fantastic review/info as usual. Peru in general is high on my list. I’d have to do some serious training and acclimatizing…I’ve never even been to the minimum elevation!

    • Thanks, Caroline! Peru is an incredible country. We always talk about going back to explore the Andes a little more. The elevation is a big factor on the treks. We’re lucky to have a lot of peaks in the 10k-14k range here in California, so training is readily available. I hope you guys can make a trip out to Peru soon!

  2. Tania O.

    Hi Drew,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. You’re living the dream!

    I have been researching on the best hiking sites in Peru, planning to visit there later in the year.

    According to what you said, I will have to plan the trip around July to avoid their wet season.

    And I have been wondering if I should go for the guide service or go solo.. but I guess for this first hike to go with a guide.

    Will look around your site to read up on your other posts.

    Tania

    • Thanks, Tania! July is a great time to go, but the months before and after are pretty nice too. I think it’s just best to avoid the rainy season. The guide service just makes things a lot easier, even for those with experience.

    • Drew, thanks so much for this great blog!
      My boyfriend and I are planning to hike the Ausangate without a guide in late August.
      Mike, it would be great if you could let us know how it went for you without a guide.
      Cheers and greeting from France,
      Britta

  3. Jacob Neir

    My brother is planning a trip to Peru to do hiking and basically doing some nature walks. I was not sure why he chose Peru but he has been talking about it since Thanksgiving. He will be going in 2018 and I want to make sure he is prepared and I am VERY thankful to have found this for him. He is not in the best shape and I think he should really focus on that before planning a trip. I will e-mail this to him now. This over-shot of the area and what to expect was fantastic!

  4. This is seriously the best post I’ve read about Ausangate. Simply amazing article my friend. My girlfriend and I are heading there in 10 days to the trek without a guide. I’m a photographer and just looking at all your amazing images has me going insane with anticipation! Thank you so much for the detailed account! Keep up the great work! Do you think it would be hard to navigate for a first timer? we have a GPS and a few different map apps like maps.me and wikiloc. Thank you again!

    • Drew Robinson

      Thanks, Mike! Great to hear you’ll be going without a guide. I’ll be looking forward to seeing your photos. I don’t think it will be that difficult to navigate. Just upload my GPX and use an app like Gaia GPS and you should be okay.

      • Awesome brother thank you again. I have the Gaia app with your gpx, and also have wikiloc with the trail and my garmin gps with all the major camping coordinates. Time to hit the road! Also just watched your YouTube video. Amazing

      • Drew Robinson

        Awesome! Sounds like you’re ready to go!

    • Drew, thanks so much for this great blog!
      My boyfriend and I are planning to hike the Ausangate without a guide in late August.
      Mike, it would be great if you could let us know how it went for you without a guide.
      Cheers and greeting from France,
      Britta

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