A Complete Guide To The Ausangate Trek

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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 Independent 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)


 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’t 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


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40 thoughts 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. 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.


    • 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,

  3. 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!

    • 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.

    • 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,

  5. This is just about as informative as it gets. My family is doing this in late September. Did you get your daily elevations with a GPS? They a bit higher than other accounts I’ve read.

      • I’m back from three weeks in Peru, four days of which were on the Ausangate trek. We opted to go with Apus Peru who did a great job for us. This trek lives up to anything I heard about it. The views were constantly eyepopping every step of the way.
        We flew into Lima and then to Cusco the next morning. That same day we drove to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley for a few days of archaeological wonders. The elevation there is around 9000 ft (2743.2 meters). This help with acclimatizing. After that a few days seeing sights in Cuzco and we we of to trek. Don’t underestimate the elevation. We are very experienced hikers (though both my wife and I are 65) with some time at high elevation but we saw many people in Cuzco suffering.
        We started the trek just uphill from Tinki where we met the horse packers and their stock. The first day was mostly on a infrequently used road. but with great views of the mountain and its glaciers. Not only is the grandeur of the topography wonderful, but hiking in proximity to the stone walls, dwelling and livestock of the local Quechua inhabitants is a treat. The trails you walk on are very well graded and solid. Move at a pace that is comfortable to you.
        Circumstances dictated that we got a ride for what would have been the last three hours of the hike. This was neither a plus or a minus to the overall trip. It is normally a 5 day trip but we did it in 4. The first night we share the large camping area with about 12 other trekkers and their teams. The remainder of the nights there were only 3 others, who were self supported. The weather at the end of September beginning October was perfect. One night may have gotten down to 20F (-7C) but days were high 40s to low 50s (5 to 10 C) and virtually windless. The food prepared for us was great.
        Get in shape and do this trek.

  6. This is an excellent blog – thank you so much for taking the time to include all the details of these treks. We are going in October and doing the Salkantay route and Ausangate (both unguided), and this is exactly what we were looking for (there’s not a whole lot of detailed info out there…). I wish we had the extra cash to hire Jose and his crew. What a rich and beautiful experience to have such a great guide, and to meet some local people! Thank you again – we will definitely be using your GPS route 🙂

  7. Hello,
    Thank you for the incredible information! I am doing research on hiking Ausangate with my partner unguided. Crazy question: Is even possible to hike in December? Most likely rainy, cold, and miserable? What are your thoughts on November? Thank you again.

  8. Hello my friend you surprised me Writing about my country Peru. you know better than me that route, I know Jose the tour guide aperas on your blog, he is awesome tour guide he is my college. but for this season we change of travel agency. your blog is very interning and It’s helpful I got many tourist in my group that they read you blog keep writing blogs like those ones, thanks a lot for such a grate work.

    If the other READERS or friend need more information for other treks in Cusco, let us know at tourleadersperu.com free info.
    To the Writer. thank a lot, I’ll share you post if you don’t mind.

  9. Hey Drew I checked your blog and wonder how many hours in average did u walk on Ausangate trek. The length looks me so short for day hikes. I did several similar hikes in Peru, even longer and higher altitude like Alto Mayo, carrying food for 9-12days and still passed during a day average of 25kms (18miles).
    I am askig as i m planning this hike on June this year.

    • We didn’t walk very long each day. We had later breakfasts, long lunches, and early dinners. It was more about enjoying the views on this trip and not putting up maximum distance each day.

  10. Drew,

    I’m headed to the Ausangate in a few weeks. Do you recommend keeping a zero degree down sleeping bag given the temperatures? I’ll have a guide but prefer to take my own bag.


  11. Great info!! Question: If I had to choose one to do (probably unguided. Have a lot of experience and all of the gear) between the Salkantay route and Ausangate in December, which one would you chose and why??


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