The Ausangate Trek is a breathtaking journey through the Peruvian Andes that takes you around the majestic Nevado Ausangate, the highest mountain in the Vilcanota Mountain range. This trek is a less-traveled alternative to the more famous Inca Trail and offers stunning landscapes, glacial lakes, and a unique cultural experience. Here's your ultimate travel guide to the Ausangate Trek:

Rainbow Mountain Peru


  • Duration: 5-7 days, depending on the chosen route
  • Distance: Approximately 70-74 km (43-46 miles)
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
  • Altitude: 4,200-5,200 meters (13,780-17,060 feet) above sea level
  • Best time to visit: May to September (dry season)

How to get there:

The trek starts from the small town of Tinqui, which is approximately a 3-4 hour drive from Cusco. You can either hire a private taxi or take a shared minibus (colectivo) from Cusco to Tinqui.

Permits and guides:

There are no permits required for the Ausangate Trek. However, hiring a local guide and a muleteer to help carry your gear is highly recommended, as the route can be challenging, and the trails are not well-marked. Local guides will also provide invaluable knowledge about the region and its culture.


You have two options for accommodation during the trek: camping or staying in local lodges (tambos). Camping allows you to choose your own campsite, while tambos provide a more comfortable and authentic experience.

Highlights of the Ausangate Trek:

  • Spectacular views of the Nevado Ausangate and other snow-capped peaks
  • Colorful mountain landscapes, including the famous Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca)
  • Hot springs at Upis and Pacchanta
  • Passing through traditional Andean villages and meeting local people
  • Spotting wildlife such as vicuñas, condors, and Andean foxes

Packing list:

  • Make sure to bring the following essentials for your Ausangate Trek adventure
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm clothing (thermal layers, fleece, waterproof jacket, and pants)
  • Hat, gloves, and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Trekking poles
  • Sleeping bag and camping equipment (if camping)
  • Personal medication and first aid kit
  • Camera and extra batteries
  • Water purification tablets or a water filter
  • Snacks and energy bars

Safety tips:

  • Acclimatize properly in Cusco or another high-altitude destination before starting the trek
  • Keep hydrated and drink plenty of water
  • Wear sunscreen and protective clothing to avoid sunburn and sunstroke
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast and be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions
  • Trek with a local guide who is familiar with the area and its potential risks

The Ausangate Trek offers an unforgettable adventure through the heart of the Peruvian Andes, providing stunning landscapes and a chance to immerse yourself in Andean culture. With careful planning and preparation, this trek will be a truly memorable experience.