The mountain region southeast of Cusco, known by locals as the “Nudo de Vilcanota”, is the second largest glacier system in Peru. Located between the Peruvian departments of Puno and Cusco, this range has over 30 peaks above 18,000 ft. / 5,500 m., glacier lakes, and a unique feature: the Quelcaya Ice Cap. This geological formation is almost 13 km long and 4.5 km wide. There are only two ice caps in the tropics, the Quelcaya and another much smaller one, located on the island of Java, in Indonesia.
The importance of ice caps is well known, they are unique witnesses of seasonal variations that allow studying the climatologic changes all over the world. Micro-particle studies of the Quelcaya ice were used to create a map of weather patterns of the central Andes over the last 10,000 years.
The landscape is doted by llamas and alpacas, owned by the shepherding communities that populate the area for centuries. Non-domesticated vicuñas (one of the four American cameloides) and other wild life can often be observed near small Andean lakes, of course, all amidst unspoiled nature and hiking routes off the beaten path.
DAY 1: CUSCO - HUAMPOCOCHA
Early morning departure by bus along the fertile Vicanota valley to the town of Checacupe from where we start ascending to Pitumarca. Following the spectacular Japura gorge, we reach a place called Congomiri (13,000 ft. / 3900 m.), the trailhead for our unique trekking experience “Camino del Apu Ausangate” Llamas will carry part of your personal equipment. Gradually we will work our way up through a picturesque valley where you can appreciate some of the highest potato cultivations in the world. The landscapes change dramatically as we leave the last houses behind us until we get to the Anta pass (16000 ft. / 4900 mt.) with first fine views of the Vilcanota range. Overnight stay at the Huampococha Tambo
DAY 2: HUAMPOCOCHA - ANANPATA
A spectacular part of the trail finds us hiking in the middle of mountains with red, ochre, and blue strata. This section offers a glimpse of marvelous geological wonder and natural beauty. Frequently groups of gracious vicuñas and deer can be spotted in this isolated area dominated by the mighty Ausangate mountain. Accommodation at the Anantapata Tambo
DAY 3: ANANPATA - MACHURACAY
Tremendous views of the glaciated south face of the Apu will inspire us as we continue towards the red sandstone formations of the “Nevado del Inca”. After a demanding ascent of the Palomachayoc pass at an elevation of 16,500 ft. / 5,150 m. we will hike down to the Machuracay Tambo, the highest lodge in the world (15,700 ft. / 4,800 m) right at the foothills of the Apu Ausangate.
DAY 4: MACHURACAY - PORTERAGE CAMPO ALTO
The first approach in the foothills of the mighty “Apu”. Following the moraines, we will reach a section of the South East Ridge and after some scrambling, we will negotiate our access to the glacier, which allows us to become more familiar with our ice climbing tools. At approximately 17,700 ft. / 5,400 m we will determine the location of our “high camp” and deposit the equipment. In the late afternoon, we will be back at Machuracay Tambo.
DAY 5: MACHURACAY
Today we will rest in the base lodge and prepare ourselves for the accent by checking the equipment, doing some technical training, and observing the route.
DAY 6: MACHURACAY - CAMPO ALTO
Early in the morning, we will take the route that leads us back to the glacier. After reaching the “high camp” and enjoying a picnic, part of the group will install a static fixed rope on the mountain wall, while other members are assigned to prepare the camp for the night.
DAY 7: SUMMIT BID FOR AUSANGATE
We will be getting ready at 3 am and by daybreak, we should start for the accent on the fixed rope. This section will give us access to the high, groundless snowfields (using snowshoes) on our way to the so-called “cumbre falsa” (or “fake summit”), before we finally reach the top of the Ausangate (20,945 ft. / 6,384 m). In the afternoon we will work our way down to lower ground and decide whether to stay another night at the “campo alto” or at Machuracay Tambo
DAY 8: MACHURACAY - CHILCA
According to our decision on the day before, we will either decent first from “campo alto” to Machuracay and continue to Chilca Tambo, or we could hike directly on rolling hills and pasture lands for alpacas from Machuracay to Chillca, where we can choose to spend the night in our comfortable “tambo”, or to leave for Cusco.
DAY 9: CHILCA TAMBO- CUSCO
After a final short walk, our bus will be waiting to take us back to Cusco.
9 DAYS / 8 NIGHTS
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.
CLIMBING MATERIAL PARTICIPANTS SHOULD BRING WITH THEM:
- Ice axe, a general uses one for 30-40 degree slopes.
- Crampons, 12 point, glacier & snow climb, crampon straps.
- Carabiners, four in total, preferably locking.
- Prusic knot or jumar ascender; one per pax, (for use in case of crevasse rescue)
- Seat and chest harness
- Winter sleeping bag
- Large backpack, 50 – 60 liters
- 1 additional pair of boots for climbing (they should be double plastic or leather and hold crampons well)
- Gaiters and/or over-boots
- Glacier glasses,