Peru part 3: Awesome Ausangate: Trekking around (probably) Peru’s most beautiful mountain (26-28 Sep 2016)

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Contents

What we did

Blog Post

Route Map and Altitude Profile

Photoblog

What we did

  • Days taken: 3
  • Distance hiked: 62km
  • Total elevation gain: 2,175m
  • Max daily distance: 23km
  • Max daily elevation gain: 1,065m
  • Max altitude reached: 5,098m (highest in Peru)
  • Max altitude slept at: 4,642m
  • Nights spend under a roof (in a tent): 0 (3)

Blog post

After two more well-earned rest days in Cusco,  we were about to get back on the bikes when Charlie sprang on me that she’d read about another trek in the Cusco region that looked like fun, called the Ausangate circuit. Ausangate, it turned out, is Southern Peru’s highest mountain, and the trek, which is ranked number 4 in the world on that fountain of all hiking knowledge besthike.com, goes around it, getting up-close and personal via some high-altitude passes (including two over the magic 5,000m mark). We had both by now accepted that by the time we arrived, the weather in the Cordillera Blanca – the most popular mountain range for hiking in the Andes – would be pretty bad, and so decided this might be our best chance to see some snow. So the next day we set out from Cusco with supplies for another five days of wilderness trekking.

Some combination of us being super fit, being much more acclimatised than average, and, ahem, taking a taxi to cut out the first 15 kilometres of the circuit, meant that we completed the walk in about two and a half days. But they were a pretty cool two and a half days. In spite of some pretty bad snow and hail storms on both afternoons, we got some great views of the mountains (mostly in the mornings), and really enjoyed the remoteness of the trail, which passed by loads of beautiful lakes, rivers, waterfalls, high mountain passes, meadows, farms and traditional villages, and, best of all, some awesome hot springs – all in view of the imposing mountains, and, quite scarily, in earshot of dozens of avalanches happening daily high above the snow line!

This is a relatively little-trodden trail, being somewhat overshadowed by some of Cusco’s more famous treks, and we saw (i.e. overtook) only a small handful of people doing it each day. It was a lot easier than our last outing to Choquequirao, but the ‘path’ was in worse nick and we got quite muddy, and occasionally a bit lost! Still, it was another brilliant few days and I’d really recommend it – much better than spending two and a half days in Cusco Starbucks (and I should know).

Route map and altitude profile

Here they are:

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An aerial map of our trek (in purple) and the taxi we took at the beginning (green)

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And the altitude profile – you can view a larger version here

Photoblog

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Back in Cusco, and our between-trek calorie loading is in the form of a bistek montado (mounted steak) – a combination of steak, sausages, rice, avocado, egg, plantain, fried cheese, chips, tomato and mayonnaise. Bloody good it was too

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We also ate at the rather more fancy Moreno restaurant just off the main square – this is our feast of ceviche and lomo saltado served with equally fancy pisco cocktails. Please excuse the creepy looking man in the background

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Before you know it, we were on the road again. That’s Ausangate in the background and the first campsite at Upis in the foreground – though we got a cab from the usual trailhead at Tinki and started here

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No more roads now, just a lot of rocks!

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One of the many beautiful Andean lakes we passed on the trek

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Selfie!

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For the first time since we arrived in the Andes, the weather was getting quite bad in the afternoons. We arrived at our first ‘campsite’ having been snowed on for the past couple of hours

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As the campsite was nothing more than a couple of heavily-blocked toilets, we decided to go around the corner for a bit of seclusion. Not that there was any need as no one else was camping that day

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The next morning we woke up to spectacular weather

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Which stayed with us as we climbed up to our first 5000+ metre pass in Peru

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Past the snow line

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Nearly there now…

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Made it! At 5098m, the Palomani pass would be our highest point in Peru, and the second highest of our trip after climbing Huayna Potosi (6088m) in Bolivia

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The views were incredible

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Reluctantly, we began the long descent to Pampacancha soon after, through a stunning valley

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By the time we reached the bottom, the weather was beginning to turn again

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And soon we were enveloped in clouds as we passed above 5,000m for the second time

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After a prolonged hailstorm, in which the camera stayed firmly in pocket, we came across another set of beautiful lakes

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And after another long day, we decided to set up camp at one of them

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With only some horses for company

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The weather was beautiful once more when we woke

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Perfect weather for a dip? Possibly not if they’re boiling hot thermal pools!

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Goodbye Ausangate! It was short, but very sweet.

Next post: The mighty jungle: Cycling from Cusco to Ayacucho, the unconventional way

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3 thoughts on “Peru part 3: Awesome Ausangate: Trekking around (probably) Peru’s most beautiful mountain (26-28 Sep 2016)

  1. Pingback: Peru part 2: From biking to hiking: the wilderness trail to Machu Picchu and Choquiquerao (12-23 Sep 2016) | Long way up

  2. Pingback: Peru part 4: The mighty jungle: Cycling from Cusco to Ayacucho, the unconventional way (30 Sep – 09 Oct 2016) | Long way up

  3. Pingback: Peru (03 Sep – 05 Dec 2016) | Long way up

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