This is a breathtaking seven-day trek in the Vilcanota’s Cordillera, on a route we call the “Camino del Apu Ausangate” located in close proximity to the highest Sacred Mountain in the Department of Cusco. The “Apu,” is the Bearer of Life and Guardian of one of the most pristine mountain ecosystems in the world.
Our treks will be accompanied by llamas and horses that will carry our gear. These are owned by shepherds of the community of Chillca who are proud to share their land with us, as well as the Spirit of their inspiring world.
On our hikes and in our 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, and for your entertainment: authentic vernacular music, played by local inhabitants, will liven up some of our evenings at the “tambos.”
DAY 1: CUSCO - CHILLCA
An early morning departure from Cusco along the fertile Vilcanota Valley to the town of Checacupe. After a visit to the colonial Church of the Immaculate Conception we begin hiking the Pitumarca Valley and along the spectacular Japura Gorge to reach the town of Chillca, where we’re be greeted by the community. From there it’s a short, easy walk to the first lodge or tambo. At the lodge you’ll have time to relax and enjoy Andean music provided by the local musicians of Chillca.
DAY 2: DÍA EXTRA EN CHILLCA
After breakfast, led by our guide we begin the ascent to Yanacocha Lake, which abounds with fast, feisty highland lake trout. The community sustainably manages this fish; fishermen use hooks without barb and specifically-measured buckets to avoid damaging the catch. Small fish are promptly returned to the lake. After our picnic lunch, we return to the lodge on the Vista Trail, enjoying some of the most spectacular views in the Vilcanota Range. We arrive at the lodge in time for a hot shower and a delicious Andean dinner.
DAY 3: CHILLCA - MACHURACAY
Our hike begins at 8:30 am in the wide valley of Upis where breathtaking glaciated mountains loom above the valley, offering majestic views. The trail narrows as we make our way toward the waterfall that drops from Mt. Santa Catalina. This trail is mostly used by the area’s wandering llamas. Once we reach small Paloma Lake, the countryside is dotted with llama and alpacas. After hiking along a second lake and crossing a long series of glacial moraines we arrive for the night at Machuracay Lodge, located at the foot of Mt. Apu Ausangate, Cusco’s sacred mountain.
DAY 4: DÍA EXTRA EN MACHURACAY
Machuracay Lodge was built on the foothills of snowcapped Mount Ausangate and is one of the highest in the world. Today, we begin hiking toward the slopes of Mt. Ausangate and Mt. Mariposa. On this leg of the trek, neither climbing experience nor snow gear are necessary; even so, you’ll enjoy hiking in the crispness of Andean snow. After lunch, we hike a couple of hours and return to Machuracay Lodge.
DAY 5 : MACHURACAY - ANANTAPATA
After a challenging ascent of Palomani Pass, elevation of 17,000 ft./ 5,200 m., we descend to Lake Ausangate Cocha. You’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the glaciated south face of the sacred Apu, as we continue toward red sandstone formations below snowcapped “Nevado Del Inca”. Overnight at Anantapata Lodge.
DAY 6: ANANTAPATA - HUAMPOCOCHA
This spectacular leg of the trail finds us hiking in the midst of mountains adorned by remarkable red, ochre, and blue soil strata, similar to Mt.Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountain. Views of marvelous geological wonders abound. Be on the lookout for bands of graceful vicuñas, frequently spotted in this isolated area. We spend that night at Huampococha Lodge, in the heart of impressive rock formations, near a lake where flocks of Andean geese, or huallatas, nest and feed.
DAY 7: HUAMPOCOCHA - CUSCO
After our final climb over the Anta Pass, we gradually make our descent. On this leg, the first native fields and homes come into view. The landscape changes quickly as red sandstone formations are followed by a Karst limestone stone forest, an ideal habitat for cute vizcachas (members of the chinchilla family). As we reach the end of the valley, the private bus will be waiting for our return trip to Cusco.
Services of expert guides in high mountain hiking
Private transport to Chillca and back to Cusco
Accommodation in double rooms
Breakfast and dinner served in the lodges, snacks and lunches served on the way
First aid kit and oxygen
Waterproof bags for the baggage carried by llamas
We had the absolute privilege of trekking the Trail of the Apu with the Andean Lodges team. Bruno, our guide, was amazing. He was knowledgeable about the geography, the people, the challenges of altitude, and the amazing history of the region. His pop culture knowledge was pretty impressive too! We had a ton of fun and lots of laughs.
Nico, Nellie, Jorge, and Senor Kruz took incredible care of us throughout our five days. We had delicious three-course meals every evening, comfortable beds with fresh sheets (and warm water bottles), and a llama herd that did all of the heavy liftings. It's rare today to go somewhere that is so uniquely beautiful in every way. Thank you, Andean Lodges team, for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Date of experience: June 2011
This trek exceeded our expectations! It is in a remote location with few other tourists and the hiking is spectacular. Our guide, Alfredo, was excellent. He judged the group well and added on some side trips that made the trip extra special, especially an amazing ridge walk on a clear day. Our cook, Esteban, was also excellent and the entire crew was friendly and helpful. The lodges have no electricity or central heating but are comfortable with private bedrooms and bathrooms. We enjoyed being "off the grid" and eating by candlelight. It is chilly in the bedrooms at night but hot water bottles tucked in the beds help with that. Warm showers were much appreciated. We highly recommend a long acclimatization period or taking prophylactic altitude drugs so that you can enjoy the trek without worrying about altitude sickness.
Date of experience: May 2018
It was an amazing experience, the whole trip was great, we began with a comfortable trip around the Vilcanota Valley (cool views) then we have lunch made by the local people of Chillca's Town. During the following days, we hiked around the Ausangate, you can get great shots, the views are awesome. Totally recommended.
Date of experience: June 2011
A climatization period is essential for enjoying adventures in high mountains. We can help you to make the best of your time during this initial phase, and to stay healthy throughout the trip.
All travelers who trek the Apu Ausangate Route must take a prior 3 to 4-day climatization period to allow for enjoying the trek at over 5,000 m. without experiencing any health problems. Additionally, hike participants must be in good health and physically fit to carry out trekking activities. Symptoms of altitude sickness, known in Peru as soroche, can sometimes occur at altitudes above 3,000 meters. The most common symptoms include: headache, loss of appetite, dizziness and difficulty sleeping, among others. To alleviate such ailments, you can follow these simple but important suggestions for the climatization phase: get good rest, take light walks, eat a light diet and drink large amounts of water, along with coca leaf tea; avoiding alcohol consumption during the first few days is also very important.
Prior to your departure, we suggest you consult with your doctor to ask about medicinal products recommended for high altitude, such as Diamox. If you’d like to obtain more detailed information and suggestions regarding medical issues during travel, please contact us
These departures can leave any day and without a minimum of travelers. The price per person depends on the number of participants in a group.
A challenging, and occasionally harsh climate; a perfect setting for adventures in high mountains.
In the high Andean zone, days are mostly beautiful and sunny, with light to swift winds in the mornings. Temperatures range between 0° to 23 ° C during the day, and travelers must be prepared to experience changing temperatures and diverse weather conditions.
At this latitude only two climate seasons occur: dry season from June through September, and rainy season, which is subject to heavy rains from November through April. Due to seasonal conditions, we recommend that you travel between April and November, when you’ll have the best chances for excellent weather - perfect for enjoying hikes and other activities.
During the dry season, temperatures below zero are frequent at night, with milder temperatures during the day.
Maximum daytime temperatures during dry season: Between 12 C° and 20 C°.
Minimum nighttime temperatures: between 5 C° and -5 C°.
Our four ecolodges along the Ausangate Route are well-equipped with all the necessary safeguards and everything our travelers need to enjoy a comfortable rest under most any weather conditions.
- Hiking boots (it’s important to wear in new boots before hiking, to avoid blisters).
- Long sleeve t-shirts (one per day).
- Walking pants.
- Thermal hiking undergarments.
- Wool sweater or down vest.
- Insulated parka or down jacket.
- Thermal sleeping clothes.
- Long cotton pants.
- Wool gloves.
- Wool socks.
- Wool cap, and hat or cap for shade.
- Waterproof Gore-Tex jacket and pants, or rain poncho.
- Comfortable sandals or slippers (for use at the lodges).
- Small towel.
- Additional gear: Hiking poles are very useful for providing balance and walking ease on hikes.
- Flashlight or headlamp.
- Pocket knife.
- Water bottle or canteen.
- Plastic baggies, for batteries and other items.
- Plastic bags for dirty or wet clothing.
- Daypack for short hikes (large enough for snacks, a change of clothing, water).
- Spare memory cards and batteries for your cameras (batteries can lose their charge due to low temperatures, and there is no current to charge them along the mountain route).
- Toiletries and first aid kit.
- Money belt.