Travel Guide

Ausangate trek and Rainbow Mountain – the whole information

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The Ausangate trek is a excessive altitude 70km hike within the Peruvian mountains close to Cusco with a median altitude of over 4000m. Not like most different hikes within the area Ausangate is not about Inca ruins, it’s all about lovely surroundings; snow peaks, glaciers, colourful mountain lakes, and the Rainbow mountain. Should you like lovely nature, going off the overwhelmed observe and climbing this trek is for you.

Ausangate is among the most difficult hikes round Cusco however on the identical time probably the most rewarding in sense of surroundings. When you have any doubts about climbing Ausangate by yourself learn this text we hope it’ll assist you determine whether or not to do an unbiased or guided trek. For more information on all our favourite hikes in Peru.

Ausangate trek overview

  • Whole distance – 70km/43 miles
  • Required variety of days – Four to five days 
  • Beginning/ending level – Tinqui (Tinki)
  • Common altitude – over 4000m/13 123ft
  • Highest factors – Arapa Cross – 4850m/16 000ft; Palomani Cross – 5165m/17 000ft

Data on different hikes round Cusco you’ll find on our Choquequirao trek information and Salkantay to Machu Picchu information. 

Should you’re fascinated with exploring extra of Peru there are a number of nice small group tour choices to hitch;

Greatest time for trekking

There are two essential seasons in Cusco; dry season and wet season. Dry season; Might to September – nearly no rain, fairly chilly particularly at evening within the mountains. April and October – possibilities of rain are larger although it’s hotter. As a result of excessive altitude in winter months, from June to August, some elements of the trek could be lined in snow. Wet season; November to March – it’s hotter and rains quite a bit. The interval from December to February is the worst time for climbing within the area.

Average high and low temperature over a year in Cusco, Peru
Common temperatures in Cusco all year long in Celsius
Average night and day temperatures in Cusco in Fahrenheit
Common minimal and most temperatures in Cusco in Fahrenheit
Average monthly precipitations in Cusco
Common rainfalls within the Cusco area all year long

Have to know in regards to the trek

It’s a excessive altitude trek good acclimatization is important. Perhaps do one other hike with decrease altitudes to acclimatize and to see your physique response.

Drink sufficient water it’s vital when climbing at excessive altitudes.

There are a lot of creeks and rivers on the route however we suggest to carry a Lifestraw bottle or water purifying tablets as a result of large variety of alpacas strolling everywhere in the mountains you’ll be able to’t know the way clear is the water. Nothing will be worse than getting sick at excessive altitude or have a working abdomen.

There are no lodges or established campsites with services you should be self-sufficient.

A superb map or GPS navigation is very beneficial for this trek.

There’s very restricted/no mobile phone reception.

Your tenting gear should be dependable and appropriate for low temperatures, at evening it will possibly go down under 0°C.

Count on to see many individuals at Rainbow Mountain if you wish to maintain the trek extra genuine you’ll be able to skip it and fairly go to as a day journey from Cusco. The Mountains provides one further day to the itinerary, plus there will likely be many vacationers, locals with embellished alpacas and so forth. all the traditional stuff you see on the streets of Cusco or round Machu Picchu.

Beautiful Ausangate Lake and Glacier, one of the highlights of the trek
Ausangate Lake and Glacier, Peru

How we rank the Ausangate trek

  • Issue stage – 5 out of 5; distant, excessive altitude, a number of steep ascents, and descents.
  • Surroundings – 5 out of 5; we completely cherished this trek, the surroundings is wonderful, probably the most lovely hikes we’ve accomplished; colourful lakes, snow peaks, rainbow mountains, waterfalls and so forth.
  • Touristy – 2 out of 5; it’s one of many much less touristy hikes round Cusco, the one half the place you may see many vacationers is Rainbow Mountain.

Altitude illness

Many individuals arriving in Cusco by bus from Lima or the Amazon get altitude illness. It’s regular in case you fly or go by bus from a low altitude to a location greater than 3000m above it. Our physique wants time to regulate to the reducing quantity of oxygen accessible as a result of altitude, the upper you go the decrease the air strain and the much less oxygen accessible to you.


There are three sorts of altitude illness; Delicate Altitude Illness, HAPE and HACE – the final two are deadly. The Delicate Illness is the primary stage that in case you don’t take precautions, it will possibly grow to be one of many deadly sorts. Having Delicate Altitude Illness is just like having a hangover; headache, nausea, fatigue. Many individuals really feel it for the primary couple of days in Cusco. 

Methods to forestall

  • First days in Cusco relaxation and sleep, don’t stroll an excessive amount of and undoubtedly don’t train.
  • Drink sufficient water. Locals in Peru and Bolivia drink a whole lot of “coca tea” a scorching drink made with leaves – it’s thought-about to assist acclimatization.
  • Don’t devour alcohol.
  • Don’t go any larger in case you skip acclimatization at decrease altitudes you gained’t acclimatize in case you go larger.
  • Attempt to sleep at decrease altitudes – “climb excessive, sleep low”.
  • You may take Diamox, this treatment quickens acclimatization, seek the advice of your physician earlier than taking it.

Journey insurance coverage for the trek

Climbing like all out of doors exercise entails dangers of getting injured, dropping or breaking gear, cancellation of the journey attributable to dangerous climate, and so forth.  The Ausangate trek is a excessive altitude route via distant areas of the Andes it’s extremely beneficial to have journey insurance coverage that covers you for the interval of the hike.

Selecting an insurance coverage firm that you could depend on in case of emergency is essential, we suggest World Nomads. The corporate focuses on masking out of doors actions together with trekking. Peru is one in all their prime climbing locations it means they’ve experience in working with native firms. A wonderful thing about World Nomads is that you could purchase insurance coverage on-line whereas touring, it takes solely a few minutes. Their insurance coverage coverage may be very versatile you should buy insurance coverage to cowl the entire interval of the journey or solely the climbing a part of it, even when it’s one or two days. Get a quote proper now!

Notice! All the time learn rigorously phrases and situations.

Ausangate trek packing checklist

As I already talked about above your gear should be dependable and appropriate for low temperatures, rain and windproof.

Tent – a great tent that gained’t leak if it rains or breaks within the robust wind plus gentle and straightforward to pitch. We used to spend as little cash on doable on our gear however we realized from our personal experience that it doesn’t assist to purchase low-cost stuff that may break shortly or gives you a whole lot of hassle each time you utilize it. Our final tenting gear improve was an MSR tent that we wished to purchase for a very long time and at last obtained it, now we will’t wait to go climbing once more. It’s gentle, simple to pitch, water and wind resistible.

Sleeping bag – we want artificial baggage simply because they dry fast and final lengthy, down baggage are superior; heat, comfy and really gentle however they grow to be an issue in the event that they get moist and after a 12 months or so of energetic utilizing they begin dropping feathers. A superb sleeping bag can go to or under  0°C .

Sleeping mat – at first, we used to hold foam mats however after a month of carrying it connected to your backpack they appear horrible we determined to modify to inflatable mattresses that may be packed away within the backpack. We love our mats; they’re small, gentle, fast to inflate, smooth and sturdy.

Yow will discover extra info on packing for the trek in our Detailed packing checklist for climbing and tenting in Peru.

Obtain our full Ausangate trek packing checklist.

Guided tour or unbiased hike

Ausangate is taken into account to be the hardest and probably the most distant hikes within the area in case you’re a climbing beginner we’d strongly suggest to do the trek with an organization and allow them to prepare all the things and information you thru the route. Should you’re an skilled hiker, have accomplished excessive altitude hikes earlier than and correct acclimatized – go by yourself. Listed here are our execs and cons for an unbiased and guided hike.

Impartial hike


  • You’re very versatile with distances and instances; begin and end if you need, cease the place you want and so forth.
  • It’s an actual journey that you just plan by yourself. 


  • You must carry all of your gear and meals.
  • You may rely solely on your self there isn’t any backup.
  • It’s not all the time enjoyable to pitch a tent and make meals after a protracted and difficult strolling day. 

Guided hike

Climbing Ausangate by yourself is a real journey, we noticed no one else for a complete week, being at excessive altitude the trek is sort of powerful and because the route is just not all the time very effectively marked navigation will be difficult.

Many hikers are extra comfy to go away planning and logistics to an skilled firm that is aware of the realm. Runnatrip is a gaggle {of professional} trekkers that may information you to experience the fantastic thing about this wonderful trek! Verify them out for an organized Ausangate Trek, all it’s a must to do is reserve your spot!

Should you don’t have time to finish the route you are able to do a day tour from Cusco to Rainbow Mountain and hike to the highest of it from the place you’ll be able to see Ausangate mountain.


  • It’s much less worrying, no planning or making ready concerned, simply discover a good dependable firm and they’re going to prepare all the things for you.
  • The stroll is less complicated you carry solely your day-pack the remainder is transferred by horses.
  • Should you journey alone it’s extra enjoyable to hike in a gaggle than wander by yourself within the mountains (not for everyone).
  • A part of the cash you spend goes to the area people; guides, prepare dinner, muleteer (although the small half).


  • It’s dearer, much more really.
  • You could be unfortunate with a gaggle or a information and it’ll spoil your hike.
Fantastic landscape on the trek
Lovely surroundings on the final day of the Ausangate trek, Peru

Ausangate trek value

With out a information, per individual

Should you do it independently it’s very low-cost particularly if in case you have your personal tenting gear; no paid lodging, no large entrance charges, the one bills; transport to get there and again (public bus) and meals for the hike.

Transport  (bus Cusco – Tinqui – Cusco) – 20 Sol/US$6 return.

Buying (meals, fuel) – 100 Sol/US$30.

Entrance price – 10 Sol/US$Three on the exit from Tinqui there’s a small kiosk the place you pay the park entry price, undecided what park however appeared kind of official.

Gear rental (non-compulsory) – relying on what you’re going to lease it would value you between 160 Sol/US$50 to 260 Sol/US$80. Should you’re planning on doing a number of hikes in Peru or South America we’d counsel bringing your personal gear if it’s just one or two hikes fairly lease it there.

Whole: 130 Sol/US$40 + gear rental.

With an organization, per individual

5-day Ausangate trek prices US$550 per individual. It contains; information, prepare dinner, horses, transport, meals, tents, mattresses. Further gear rental (sleeping bag, strolling poles, sneakers and so forth.) is just not included and paid individually.

Methods to get to Ausangate (Tinqui) from Cusco?

The trek begins in a small city Tinqui (typically spelled Tinki), 100km from Cusco. It’s very simple to get right here by public bus from Cusco. Bus leaves from Terminal Paradero Livitaca (simple to search out on Google maps), which is close to Coliseo Cerrado, a contemporary stadium. Ticket prices 10 Sol/US$3, it takes about 2,5 hours.

Ausangate trek a 6-day itinerary

The trek itself is sort of demanding, requires good bodily situation and acclimatization. In actual fact, the entire route is above 4000m, with two passes over 5000m. So we’d suggest doing one of many simpler treks first, for instance, Salkantay or Choquequirao. The factor we particularly preferred in regards to the trek is that there have been no vacationers, really no individuals in any respect, some days we met one or two native shepherds.

Consuming water is just not an issue after getting purification tablets or a Lifestraw, there are numerous lakes, rivers, and creeks. Simply pay attention to alpacas and sheep’s excrement as a result of tablets don’t assist in opposition to them.

To forestall getting misplaced we extremely suggest to ask the way in which each individual you meet and to have GPS or old-style compass. Should you meet a gaggle with a information simply observe them, it’ll make you wandering round a lot simpler;)

Map of Ausangate trek
Map of Ausangate trek

Day 1. Bus Cusco – Tinqui, stroll Tinqui – Upis, 100km drive/7km stroll

Cusco (3400m) – Tinki (4000m) – Upis (4100m)

We tried to begin our day as early as doable however we didn’t succeed, we caught a bus to Tinqui at 9.30, it took lower than we anticipated to get there, we arrived at Tinqui round 12pm. We didn’t cease within the city and went straight in direction of the path, paid 10 Sol/US$Three entrance price and began strolling. It was fairly troublesome to stroll as a result of altitude, about 4000m, backpacks felt heavier than normal. About 3km earlier than Upis the climate modified it obtained windy and was beginning to rain we discovered a pleasant spot and determined to camp there.


  • Snow peak of Ausangate
  • Scorching springs at Upis (we stopped there subsequent morning, nothing particular however could be good to loosen up on the primary day)


  • Some ascending not very steep however on the altitude, with full backpacks, it was fairly troublesome.
A Quechua family in Tinque, Ausangate trek, Peru
An area household dressed within the conventional Quechua garments in Tinque village, the gateway to the Ausangate trek

Day 2. Upis – Puca Cocha, 15km

Upis (4100m) – Arapa cross (4850m) – Puca Cocha lake (4600m)

We began at 8.00, in 1 hour we obtained to Upis although this a part of the route is just not the nicest one a little bit bit strolling alongside the street. After Upis the trail lastly turns away from the street, so we may benefit from the tranquility and the fantastic thing about the mountains. On this stretch, the trail is sort of clear and straightforward to observe. We reached Arapa cross (4850m) in 2 hours. From the highest of the cross slight down about 30-40min. to the primary lake.  There’s a viewpoint (Mirador) on the lake a pleasant place to have lunch.

Across the lake, we noticed many vicunas (just like llamas and alpacas however wild and really shy). Puca Cocha (typically spelled Puqa Qocha) is the primary lake on the way in which after that there will likely be many, all totally different colours and sizes. Subsequent lake Japu Puqa Qocha, a glacier lake, each linked via the waterfall; water from the glacier falls into the lake, then from the primary lake via the waterfall it falls to the subsequent one, and so forth.


  • A number of turquoise colour lakes; Puca Cocha, Japu Cocha
  • A few waterfalls
  • A whole lot of alpacas
  • Lovely sundown from the campsite


  • Ascend to Arapa Cross from Upis – 700m up.
  • Descend to Puca Cocha lakes – 300m down.
A turquoise color Puca Cocha Lake and a waterfall, Ausangate
Gorgeous Puca Cocha Lake, the primary day of the Ausangate trek

Day 3. Puca Cocha – Ananta, 13km

Puca Cocha (4600m) – Puca Cocha Cross (5051m) – Ananta (4400m)

 Once more steep ascend to Puca Cocha Cross right here you begin seeing colourful mountains, primarily reddish, round and plenty of viscachas – mountain rabbits, frequent in Peru and Bolivia, these guys are tremendous quick and fairly timid troublesome to take a photograph they disappear if you strategy them. Should you attain the campsite earlier than noon you’ll be able to pitch a tent. depart your backpack there and go to Rainbow Mountain the identical day. It’ll prevent a while within the morning

Should you’re not planning to stroll to Rainbow Mountain you’ll be able to skip today and go to Day 4. From Puca Cocha you don’t go as much as the cross you retain strolling alongside the lakes in direction of Ausangate lake the place you’ll be able to camp. The surroundings this fashion is wonderful as effectively.


  • Colourful mountains on the way in which to Puca Cocha Cross
  • Many viscachas and alpacas
  • View from the cross; Ausangate mountain, colourful Cocha lakes
  • Rainbow Mountain


  • Steep ascend from Puca Cocha campsite to the cross, 500m up
  • Lengthy descend to Ananta campsite, 600m down
Several alpacas on the way to Rainbow Mountain
There are millions of alpacas on the trek

Day 4. Ananta – Rainbow Mountain – Ausangate lake, 15km

Ananta (4400m) – Ananta Cross (4500m) – Vinicunca valley (4300m) – Rainbow Mountain (5000m) – Vinicunca valley (4300m) – Ananta Cross (4500m) – Ananta (4400m) – Ausangate lake (4300m)

Fairly a troublesome day of steep ascends and descends, the hike from Ananta to Rainbow Mountain is a return stroll you stroll to and again the identical method. The great factor you’ll be able to depart your tent and backpacks on the campsite and fetch them on the way in which again. We’d suggest taking your beneficial stuff. You need to get to the mountain early earlier than the principle vacationer crowds come for a day tour from Cusco so rise up early. Plus it’s going to be fairly a protracted day retaining in thoughts all of the up and down strolling. The Rainbow mountain is spectacular even in case you’ve seen it on many pictures to see it in actual life it’s one thing particular. On the way in which again is principally descending it’s not as tiring and doesn’t take that lengthy.


  • Rainbow Mountain
  • Ausangate mountain and lake


  • Ascend to Ananta Cross from the campsite – 100m up
  • Ascend from the valley to Rainbow Mountain – 700m up
  • Descend from Rainbow Mountain to the valley – 700m down
  • Ascend from the valley to Ananta Cross – 200m up
Colorful Rainbow Mountain on the Ausangate trek in Peru
The well-known Rainbow Mountain one of many highlights of the trek

Day 5. Ausangate lake – Jutumpata, 13km

Ausangate lake (4300m) – Palomani Cross (5200m) – Jutumpata (4400m)

Proper after the tenting, you begin steep and lengthy as much as Palomani cross, as much as 5200m the very best level of the hike. From there you’ll be able to get pleasure from unbelievable views! Don’t overlook every now and then to look again and verify the gorgeous views over the valley and pink mountains.

The way in which up is sort of powerful attributable to excessive altitude and a heavy backpack. So simply take it simple and relaxation as a lot as you want. Ultimately you’ll attain the highest. Fortunately you’ve gotten a great excuse to cease on the way in which up quite a bit to benefit from the surroundings. Whenever you lastly attain the highest and look all the way down to the opposite aspect of the cross at this on the spot you understand it was 100% value it. The view is wonderful; a pink lake, colourful mountains, large glaciers. It’s troublesome to determine which approach to look! We had lunch on the prime of the cross and began descending into the valley. The down is sort of steep, you go all the way in which to the valley Jutumpata with the pink lake and river until you attain the campsite.


  • Ausangate lake and glacier
  • View from the highest of Palomani Cross
  • Pink lake


  • Steep and really lengthy ascend from Ausangate lake to Palomani Cross – 900m up.
  • Steep descend from Palomani Cross into the valley – 800m down.
Colorful mountains on the Ausangate trek, Peru
Breathtaking views from the highest of Palomani Cross

Day 6. Jutumpata – Pacchanta – Tinqui, 17km

Jutumpata (4400m) – Qampa Cross (5000m) – Pacchanta village (4100m) – Tinqui (4000m)

The evening earlier than was very chilly so after we wakened all the things was lined with snow, together with our tent, it appeared lovely. We undoubtedly wanted some scorching espresso to heat up!

The final ascend on the trek to Qampa cross there are extra colourful lakes, alpacas and chinchillas on the way in which. From the highest you begin descending to the valley previous a number of turquoise lakes, you’ll be able to refresh in one in all them in case you really feel prefer it, the water is freezing! Lastly, after about 5 hours we arrived at Pacchanta village.  There are scorching springs in Pacchanta in case you’re drained and don’t really feel like strolling anymore you’ll be able to keep right here, chill within the springs and the subsequent morning proceed to Tinki. As an possibility you’ll be able to catch a neighborhood bus to Tinki, the path follows the dirt-road all the way in which to the city. To get again to Cusco catch a bus from the principle sq. in Tinqui, the journey takes 2h30m.


  • Colourful lakes
  • Lovely inexperienced valley close to Pacchanta


  • Steep ascent to Qampa Cross – 600m up
  • Lengthy descent from Qampa Cross to the valley – 900m
A beautiful green-color lake on the last day of the trek
Alya at one of many lakes on the final day of the Ausangate trek, on the way in which to Tinque

Locations to remain in Cusco

What will be higher than checking into a pleasant resort after every week of climbing within the wild and sleeping in a tent! There are a whole lot of lodging choices in Cusco for any funds.

Really useful books and guidebooks

For a self-guided stroll one in all Machu Picchu information books will likely be fairly useful, e.g. The Machu Picchu Guidebook: A Self-Guided Tour by Alfredo Valencia Zigarra (paper e-book) or Lonely Planet Peru (paper and Kindle).

If you wish to journey again in historical past and discover out extra in regards to the discovery of Machu Picchu, you’ll get pleasure from studying Misplaced Metropolis of the Incas by Hiram Bingham. Kindle and paper e-book.

Good and enjoyable studying Flip Proper at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Misplaced Metropolis One Step at a Time by Mark Adams attempting to reply a typical query; What’s Machu Picchu? Kindle and paper e-book.

Should you’d wish to learn some native authors Loss of life within the Andes by probably the most well-known Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa is a good selection. The novel tells some mystic occasions occurring within the Andes, not removed from Cusco when Machu Picchu was nonetheless fairly of the overwhelmed observe place to return. Kindle and paper e-book.

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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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