Ausangate, the complete travel guide.
The road to the most incredible mountains
Cusco - Perú
Nicole Maxdeo
April 19, 2024

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It is appropriate to mention that I had to face the largest mountain in all of Cusco and the fifth largest in Peru. This impressive glacier is part of the Vilcanota mountain range and is located in the province of Quispicanchis. If there is something you have to do once in your life, it is to walk in front of a snowy mountain. I’m not lying to you, it won’t be easy, but what is easy in life?

Table of Contents

The pre-Ausangate Trek

Since I knew that I would walk for three days on what is one of the most famous hiking routes. My mind was flying trying to imagine a minimum of what this show would be. Would I have to climb? Do you walk the full 3 days? Will I see snow all the way? Is it very cold? Many questions that only increase the desire to know everything.

One day before zero day, I was fortunate to have an introductory meeting to put a stop to my questions and learn about the great challenge that I was about to face. I met the guide in charge of our journey and those who would be my hiking brothers in the next 3 days. The explanations were our ground wire and the recommendations and maps of our commandments. With my mind in the game, only a few hours would separate me from the adventure.

Today everything begins. I'm ready to face Ausangate Mountain?

4 a.m. and my alarm tells me that the game is close. I take my backpack full of illusions, some water, a jacket and get on the bus that will take me and my fellow travelers to Tinke. Since I sat down, I could only think about what time we would arrive. After falling asleep for 2 and a half hours, I woke up in a totally different landscape, green fields, clear skies and cold winds told me that the moment of truth was approaching.

As we got out of our transport, I was able to contemplate in the distance a white peak that welcomed me to its blessed lands. I'm here, I just have to continue. After a few minutes, breakfast was ready. A buffet was enough to whet my appetite and well, who doesn't have tremendous delicacies? Toasts, pancakes, fried foods and infusions that allowed us to wake up to start the walk.


The first impression is the most important of all

The interesting begins. I take a deep breath and gradually begin to ascend through the community. The villagers who see us pass by are smiling at us and I am almost certain that they wish us the best of luck. For approximately 3 hours of walking under an intense sun, red and with crazy eyes to capture everything there is to see, we arrived at the lunch place in Upis. This moment I will carry in my heart all my life. A white mantle in front of a river of crystal clear waters is presented as the main act of this entire walk, the first look of Ausangate. After leaving our things, another extraordinary buffet of comfort food awaits us. We have lunch and admire this precious gift for a few more minutes before continuing with the adventure.

Everything that goes up, must come down, right?

We went up to have a panoramic view of everything that we were missing. Almost out of breath and praying that it does not rain much to be able to enjoy the road, after 2 and a half hours we arrived at the first step of the path, the Arapa Pass that gives us a seat in the front row for a magical meet and greet with what we were waiting: The Apu Ausangate. It is incredible how the mysticism of the apus and the energy of the Pachamama invade our being and make us enter into harmony with the relationship between man and nature.

Photos here, photos there and after dazzling our eyes and saying goodbye to this unrepeatable sight, we will go down to our campsite. Be careful, and I say this from my own experience, be careful with the descents that instead of walking you can end up rolling. Pucacocha awaits us with the largest natural mirror, the reflection of the moon in the immense mass of snow that will be our reflector on this starry night.

On the top of the world

Can you imagine waking up and the first thing you see is Ausangate? Well, I realized that if you walk a little more than normal, you can find wonders like these. A little coca tea and to continue what we came to, continue ascending in search of the best view. We have to conquer the Puca Pass, a little climb and “just a little bit” will be the panoramic view that we were looking for so much. Prepare a stone, which we will show respect with a traditional Apacheta (tower of stones that are left on the heights). The photos don't do it justice. Seeing it with your own eyes will be an out of this world experience.

The time to go down has arrived and the stomach is already asking us to stop to have lunch. In a small place called Anantapata a table full of delicacies awaits so that we can recover before the last climb. As I was going down I was getting closer to a peculiar scene: A little mud house with two visitors in it, the lady who was dedicated to weaving in the surrounding green pastures and the man who sat at the door of the little house looking at the horizon.

Full belly, happy heart. We are getting ready to conquer the second summit of the day, yes, 2 summits in a single day and I already had my heart in my hand. We take our backpacks and the unpredictability of the mountain surprises us, a “little rain” that tells us that we will pay our karmas on the way up to Warmisaya. Up here, despite the rain and hail, everything is still magical and I can feel the breeze caress my thoughts.

Last night. Saying see you soon to Ausangate

After days going up and down, I felt that my legs did not give more and I just wanted to go to rest. Suddenly, good news arrives, the guide tells us that one more descent and we will be in holy ground. While I take the courage to keep going down, I can see in the distance a colorful mountain, indeed, it is Rainbow Mountain.

More anxious than before to see what else this journey hides from us, I continue my descent towards the camp that is gradually approaching. As I take photos and listen to my own thoughts in the silence of the mountains, I am grateful for making the decision to step out of my comfort zone.

In approximately 2 hours, I arrived at Surinecocha, our porters and cooks waited for us with everything ready and an orange sunset indicated that the trip was coming to an end. While I was taking somo photos and talking to Avelino, the porter, I realized how lucky I am and how sometimes we miss experiences like these.

Talking with my fellow travelers is comforting, because I thought I had a bad time but no, each suffered their own hardships but here we are, sitting across from each other with our hearts in hand, remembering the most beautiful part of the journey and listening to the guide that gives us the last indications for tomorrow. As if I weren't lucky enough, before I go to sleep, the sky gives me something unexpected, a shooting star that falls on me as a blessing of fate.

Natural painting on Mountains: The Rainbow Mountain

The moment to say goodbye to the camp and the route that welcomed us during these last days to venture to know a new wonder: Rainbow Mountain. Every time they tell you that something is impossible, remember a thousand times that in Cusco we have a mountain of colors, yes, you did not read wrong, a mountain with 7 colors that can be seen among imposing snow-capped mountains and reveals its peculiar colors to the view of the world.

We left early and for 45 minutes my heart raced, as I was nowhere to witness it all. After a small climb, 5200 m.s.n.m they yell at me that I made it, I look around me and the colors flash in my eyes. Indeed, if it has 7 colors! I rest for a moment, I fix myself a little and I smile in front of the camera with such satisfaction of being able to have this wonder of nature in front of me, in all its splendor. Without fog and with a sun that highlights the natural rainbow of the Vinicunca mountain, I was finally able to capture my cover photo.

Till the next time, Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain

It is time to descend towards our last point and I feel like an expert in hiking. I did this descent in the blink of an eye, because, compared to everything I had to experience in recent days, this is nothing. Upon arriving at Llacto, where the vehicles park, I felt that I had won an Oscar for such an incredible walk.

Here I said goodbye to the porter and part of the team that accompanied us to continue with my mates and the guide to Rumi Punku. I had a small lump in my throat because having the luxury of sharing extraordinary experiences with A1 people like them is a privilege.

After traveling by bus for approximately 2 hours, we arrived at the formerly known "gateway to Cusco". Rumi Punku welcomes us with a dazzling sun, as if to close this adventure with a flourish. I say goodbye to the walk, go into the bus and soon I will arrive home, with my heart in my hand and the desire to want to eat the world to live experiences like these all my life.


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