The Apu Ausangate takes place in the community of Pacchanta, a well-known but remote area just below majestic Ausangate, the glacier-covered masiff located approximately three and a half hours outside of Cusco. The people of Pacchanta farm potatoes and raise alpaca as their primary sources of income and sustenance, and are also known for their beautiful handwoven textiles. This trek promises breathtaking scenery and immersion in rural life in the high Andes!
An early morning departure from Cusco along the fertile Vilcanota Valley to the town of Checacupe. After a visit to the colonial Church of the Immaculate Conception we begin hiking the Pitumarca Valley and along the spectacular Japura Gorge to reach the town of Chillca, where we’re be greeted by the community. From there it’s a short, easy walk to the first lodge or tambo. At the lodge you’ll have time to relax and enjoy Andean music provided by the local musicians of Chillca.
After breakfast, led by our guide we begin the ascent to Yanacocha Lake, which abounds with fast, feisty highland lake trout. The community sustainably manages this fish; fishermen use hooks without barb and specifically-measured buckets to avoid damaging the catch. Small fish are promptly returned to the lake. After our picnic lunch, we return to the lodge on the Vista Trail, enjoying some of the most spectacular views in the Vilcanota Range. We arrive at the lodge in time for a hot shower and a delicious Andean dinner.
The hike begins at 8:30 am in the wide valley of Upis where breathtaking glaciated mountains loom above the valley, offering majestic views. The trail narrows as we make our way toward the waterfall that drops from Mt. Santa Catalina. This trail is mostly used by the area’s wandering llamas. Once we reach small Paloma Lake, the countryside is dotted with llama and alpacas. After hiking along a second lake and crossing a long series of glacial moraines we arrive for the night at Machuracay Lodge, located at the foot of Mt. Apu Ausangate, Cusco’s sacred mountain.
Machuracay Lodge was built on the foothills of snowcapped Mount Ausangate and is one of the highest in the world. Today, we begin hiking toward the slopes of Mt. Ausangate and Mt. Mariposa. On this leg of the trek, neither climbing experience nor snow gear are necessary; even so, you’ll enjoy hiking in the crispness of Andean snow. After lunch, we hike a couple of hours and return to Machuracay Lodge.
After a challenging ascent of Palomani Pass, elevation of 17,000 ft./ 5,200 m., we descend to Lake Ausangate Cocha. You’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the glaciated south face of the sacred Apu, as we continue toward red sandstone formations below snowcapped “Nevado Del Inca”. Overnight at Anantapata Lodge.
This spectacular leg of the trail finds us hiking in the midst of mountains adorned by remarkable red, ochre, and blue soil strata, similar to Mt.Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountain. Views of marvelous geological wonders abound. Be on the lookout for bands of graceful vicuñas, frequently spotted in this isolated area. We spend that night at Huampococha Lodge, in the heart of impressive rock formations, near a lake where flocks of Andean geese, or huallatas, nest and feed.
After our final climb over the Anta Pass, we gradually make our descent. On this leg, the first native fields and homes come into view. The landscape changes quickly as red sandstone formations are followed by a Karst limestone stone forest, an ideal habitat for cute vizcachas (members of the chinchilla family). As we reach the end of the valley, the private bus will be waiting for our return trip to Cusco.
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