Have you ever dreamed of trekking through the Andes? One of the most unique experiences you can have in Peru is taking on the 70 kilometer hike known as the Ausangate Trek. This hike circles the Ausangate Massif and takes you through some stunning and challenging terrain.
I had the great opportunity and pleasure of ticking this experience off my bucket list in 2019. Looking back, it was such a rewarding part of my trip to Peru. In this article, I would like to share with you my experiences on the Ausangate Trek as well as provide you with some key recommendations for your trip. Before I do so, please allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Ivan Uriarte (@el.ivanovish). I was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Tijuana, Mexico. Now I live in San Diego. Growing up in a border city with the United States, I was always going back and forth between the two countries. So I grew up with two different cultures.
I feel like my passion for travel started late in life. It happened five years ago when I took my first trip around Europe. After a few weeks of traveling, it left me with a hunger for wanting to travel and seek adventures.
A Wonderful Trip to Peru
What inspired me to visit Peru recently was wanting to see snow for the first time. Although I can easily drive somewhere where it snows in San Diego, I decided it would be best for me to wait and see snow from a mountain region like the Andes, Himalayas, Alps or Rocky Mountains. This way I would be able to see massive mountains up close covered in snow.
I decided to break my Peru trip into different categories. Firstly, I started with Lima. Then I headed to the Ballestas Islands followed by visiting the Huacachina desert where I enjoyed a crazy fun dune buggy ride (my driver was probably only 17 years old). I also boarded down the sand dunes.
Following Huacachina, I learned how to make pisco in a vineyard. After that it was time to get acclimatized from sea level to higher altitudes in order to do the Ausangate Trek. I went to the city of Huaraz where I spent a very cold night at Laguna Paron. I did a hike around the lake and up to a high viewpoint which really helped me overcome altitude sickness.
Once I felt ready, I went to higher elevation and visited Pastoruri Glacier. I was glad that I was already acclimatized since I saw people struggling on this hike but not as much as the ones I saw hiking to Rainbow Mountain.
I first learnt about the Ausangate Trek on Instagram. I saw a couple of photos from the trek and the mountains quickly grabbed my attention. I began researching more about the trek and prepared myself before doing it. I don’t think I could have pulled this off without serious planning.
Five Day Ausangate Trek
My Ausangate Trek took five days. On the last day, I climbed up a 5500 metre mountain. My first day started great. I camped near a lake and it snowed which was a dream! On the second day, I visited lakes with snow-capped mountains in the background but that meant hiking uphill.
The third day was one of my favorite days. We reached the highest pass of the trek – the Palomani Pass – at 5100 metres. I was offered epic views of the Ausangate Mountain and got to see tons of Alpacas! The fourth day was my least favorite. I started to feel tired and my stomach was sore.
I was worried about getting sick and missing the opportunity to climb the mountain. Luckily, the following day, I woke up full of energy ready to summit a mountain! We had to wake up very early at around 2:45am, have breakfast and then 3:30am we would be on our way up the mountain.
This day was my favorite because I got to summit a 5500 metre mountain, do some relatively easy rock climbing and best of all I was close to Ausangate Mountain – Cusco’s highest mountain. After the summit, we headed back to camp for lunch and back to the town to finish the trek.
My Favorite Places on the Ausangate Trek
I have two favorite parts of the Ausangate Trek. The first was when I was surrounded by alpacas eating and drinking water from a stream while in the background you had Ausangate Mountain full of snow. I have to say this was a special part of the trek because I was having fun taking photos of something I had never seen before – alpacas, snow and mountains.
My second favorite part of the trek was climbing up the mountain. It was my first time doing it and the experience was breathtaking (no pun intended). This was an epic experience because I never imagined doing it. Plus, I was having fun photographing the experience along with my guide.
This also gave me a sensation of accomplishment. Once I was at the top, I felt accomplished because the day before I wasn’t even sure if my body was going to be okay. All my preparation finally paid off when I was at the top.
Challenges of the Ausangate Trek
I knew I was physically prepared for the trek. Although once you are at high altitude it’s a different story – especially coming from sea level. The biggest challenge was my mind playing tricks by telling me I was tired, that maybe I should just go back or that I should get some rest by riding the horse.
I overcame this challenge by reminding myself that it was just my mind trying to play tricks on me and that eventually I was going to get to camp and get some rest. Or that once I finished I could rest and enjoy a big meal.
Need to Know Before you Go
The most important thing to know before you set off on this journey is to get yourself prepared physically and mentally, as it can be challenging. I prepped for months for the Ausangate Trek doing some challenging hikes which also helped with my mentality and being active in the gym.
Watching YouTube videos can help so you have an idea of what you are getting yourself into! Make sure to bring warm clothes and dress in layers. It gets really cold at night to the point that it froze my water.
Lastly, if you don’t want to join a group tour, then I recommend going with a private company called Huillca Expedition. They really took care of me and made sure I was okay the entire time. Thanks for reading and enjoy your experience hiking the incredible Ausangate Trek in Peru!