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Ausangate Circuit Trek

AusangateThe Ausangate trekking circuit goes through some of the most beautiful landscapes of the Cusco region.[*] The five or six days of this itinerary goes around the Ausangate Mountain –  Awsanqati in Quechua – along hot springs, and pristine turquoise blue and red lakes. The views of the glacier are amazing. The region is home to ‘one of the few remaining pastoralist societies in the world’ herding llamas and alpacas.[1] This high elevation is also the natural habitat of graceful vicuñas, the non-domesticated kind of the Andean Camelids. Most of the year the trail is covered with sparkling snow reflecting gleaming sun rays. No wonder that Ausagnate trek is the 4th best in the world according to ranking.

Ausangate is located about 100km southeast of Cusco in the Willkanuta (hispanicized Vilcanota) Mountain range. But with 6,384m it can be seen from many elevated points in the Imperial City. As other remote and hard-to-access mountains, Ausangate Peak is an apu according to the indigenous Andean belief system. It means that the Mountain is a worshiped spiritual being, a deity. Local people from the Quechua communities bring him (apus are always masculine) offerings like coca leaves, fruits, candy, cookies, wine, beer, or coke – often in a form of a despacho. Despachos are either burnt or buried in the ground.

Ausangate Circuit - snow and lagoon


Qoyllur Rit’i

Awsanqati is also the destination of ‘the biggest pilgrimage among the indigenous of the American continent’[2]Qoyllur Rit’i. Visitors are welcomed to join. These are some guidelines to verify the exact date of the Qoyllur Rit’i procession: There tend to be eight weeks between Semana Santa and Qoyllur Rit’i. It falls on the period from late May to mid-June, one week before Corpus Christi, which is celebrated nine weeks after Semana Santa – Ester Holiday. Posters with the exact date and meeting point(s) appear in the Cusco center a few days before the departure.

Zurite, Anta - Qoyllur Rit’i

Typical Qoyllur Rit’i costumes in green and yellow of Anta Province near Cusco



Total trekking distance is about 50km divided into approximately 8 hours of walking each day (including lunch breaks). There are three high passes on the route: Arapa pass (4,850m), Apuchata Pass (4,900m), and Palomani Pass (5,200 m). The overall altitude goes up and down between 4,000 and 5,000 meters, which makes this route challenging. With Andina Travel the hiking is not a race. In this altitude we apply the baby steps walking technique especially going uphill. It’s important to be well equipped for the snow and the cold temperatures. Previous trekking experience, reasonable fitness, and at least three days in Cusco for acclimatization are recommended.

The multi-day Ausangate route is much less busy with trekkers than other Cuso trails, because of its physical difficulty and because it doesn’t end in Machu Picchu. The stunning beauty and very private experience of this secluded edge of the Andean altiplano deserve to be on your adventure bucket list. Ausangate Circuit trek is real odyssey into the deep Peru that will allow you to slow down, perceive your breathing, and feel your heart-beat.

Ausangate Circuit LLamas



Here you can check oncoming departures for the Ausangate snow-covered trekking adventure.


[*] The Ausangate route and the Choquequirao route are the two most beautiful trails in the Cusco region. They are quite far from each other – in opposite directions outside of the Cusco capital.

[1] Wikipedia




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