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Ausangate Trek - Incatrailhikeperu

Ausangate Trek

Written by: Incatrailhikeperu September 27, 2022

Ausangate Mountain forms part of the Vilcanota Mountain Range, 53 miles/ 85km the Southeast of Cusco. It towers at an amazing 6 384mt/20 945ft. The mountain attracts thousands of pilgrims every year, a week before Corpus Christy. The hike to the mountain is also called ´The Road of the Apu Ausangate´. Apu is a term used to describe the spirits of the mountains that protect the local people. A trip to Ausangate is not just a scenery trip but an incredible spiritual journey + a cultural trek where you meet with people who keep the culture alive. You don’t have to believe to feel the energy this mountain radiates. This trek will give you a chance to be one with nature and an opportunity to know and understand the indigenous people of Peru on a deeper spiritual level. 

How do I get to Ausangate?

There is a bus from Cusco to Tinki town. The bus is usually headed to Ocongate, so you need to double-check that the bus will restart to Tinki. Each trip takes about 4 hours on a well maintained interoceanic road leading to Brazil. Mini buses can be found behind the closed Colosseum in Cusco. They do not have fixed plans and only depart when they are full. Tickets cost around 30 soles. Tinki rown is a very small town and doesn’t have many options in terms of restaurants.  If you do not wish to guide the local public system, you can choose a respected tour operator to hike to Ausangate Mountain like Orange Nation Peru. A trek to Auasangate will usually also include a trip to the world famous marvel that is Rainbow Mountain and the Red Valley.

ausangate trek

Do you need to adjust before Ausungate Trek?

Yes. The elevation on this trek does not get lower than 4 000mt/13 123ft. You hike at very high elevations at all times right up until the last day when you are heading back to the trail-head. The hill gets as high as 5 400mt/17 717ft at Rainbow Mountain.

In general, if you exercise regularly and spend  3 days in Cusco, or the Sacred Valley for acclimatization to the height, you may be just fine. The recommended medicine for altitude sickness is WATER, COCA TEA, and OXYGEN IF NEEDED; our guides are trained to treat you for Altitude Sickness.

There are many day tours on offer around the City of Cusco and the Sacred Valley that you can book while you are acclimatizing.

Its way better to do this trip after your Machu Picchu visit!

Can you do Ausangate Mountain Trek without a tour?

This trek is recommended for participating hikers. With that in mind, if you have no experience hiking at very high heights please do not attempt this alone. Rather play it safe and choose a reputable tour operator to make this a pleasant and informative trip. If you are an avid hiker and know how to deal with the logistics of multiple-day trekking, then it is likely to attempt this on your own. Click the following for recommended tour operators: Recommended tour operators.

ausangate trek

Rainbow Mountain

Do you need to acclimate before Rainbow Mountain?

 Yes. Rainbow Mountain stands at the imposing elevation level of 5020m/17 060ft, it is very higher than Cusco (3399m/17 060ft). You can adapt for 2 to 3 days in Cusco or the Sacred Valley which is at a height of roughly 2 743m/9 000m leaning on where you choose.

Can you do Rainbow Mountain without a tour? 

The easy answer is yes. However, there are multiple things to think about. You need to weigh the pros and cons of doing a tour vs doing it on your own.

Rainbow Mountain Trek in Ausangate Trek

Is Rainbow Mountain worth it? 

It’s an emphatic YES. Rainbow Mountain is the most eye catching freak of nature, you will ever come across. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.  It is now the second most visited tourist site in Peru after Machu Picchu and it was newly added to the National Geographic list of “Top 100 places to visit before you die”. It’s also pretty reasonable, the average cost for a tour is between $70 and $150.

How much of a climb is Rainbow Mountain?

The hike is around 4.4km (2.5 miles) in one direction. This hike is considered to be moderate to difficult. The main reason is that Rainbow Mountain is at a higher altitude than Cusco. When you first approach the trail, it looks super easy, but you need to pace yourself because you are walking at very high elevations. Even people fully acclimatized to the altitude in Cusco still walk at a considered pace.

Almost everyone can complete this trek. The majority of the trail is gradual with no steep inclines. You do however still need to breathe evenly, taking slow deep breaths. The part of the trek that gets challenging is the very last section. Here we recommend that you take as much time as needed. It’s a concise section, but it is pretty steep. Be aware that the ONLY challenge with the Rainbow Mountain Trek is the height. So, if you are prepared for it and have chosen a good tour operator, you will summit with no issues.

Ausangate Trek

The Red Valley in Cusco – This hikeis done right after the Rainbow Mt.

I am 1000% biased when I speak of the Red Valley. I found the red valley more exciting and enthralling than Rainbow Mountain. The colors were so vibrant and captured the imagination. It was just so otherworldly, I felt like a Martian in out of space. After visiting Rainbow Mtwith hundreds of visitors and not much space to take clear pictures, Red Valley was a welcomed reprieve. It’s peaceful, giving you plenty of time to soak in your surroundings and enjoy the llamas and alpacas roaming around. There is a better opportunity here to interact with the locals guarding the gate, learn a few Quechua phrases and enjoy the smiling faces of the locals in their colorful traditional attire.


The Red Valley is located close to the popular Rainbow Mountain and the massive Ausangate Mountain. It can be found in the district of Pitumarca, at 5 200m above sea level, within the communities of Chillihuani and Pampachiri. A 3-hour drive from Cusco and only a  short 30-minute walk from Rainbow Mountain, you will come across this valley. 

What’s unique about the Red Valley

The Red Valley is made entirely of very distinct red and green tones. The red comes from the iron deposits that cover the valley and the green is from the vegetation that has miraculously survived in such hostile conditions. Even during the dry season, on a sunny day, expect the weather to be on the chilly side. In the wet season, we recommend avoiding a visit in the afternoon because of the high probability of thunderstorms that brings the risk of being struck by lightning.  Among the animals that roam and fly over the valley are alpacas, llamas, vicunas, Andean condors, and Andean deer. Along the trek, you will find multiple small heaps of stone piled on top of each other. This is done to ask for prosperity from Pachamama (mother nature).

The Red Valley is a must see! Check with your tour operator if your trip to Rainbow Mountain includes the Red Valley.

Which Travel tour operator?

If you plan to visit Rainbow Mountain & Red Valley There are many agencies, We suggest to refer the Orange Nation Peru for choosing a responsible company with competitive price range, safe & high quality tour .

Does it really have the colors of the rainbow?

This place is also known as the rainbow mountain for its mineralogical composition that gives it a series of 6 colors that are not exactly those of the rainbow. However, seen from a distance, these colors take on an unmatched beauty.

Can i camp near the mountain?

The answer is Yeah But 1 KM away .


For those who really love to take pictures of an amazing landscapes, Ausangate will have many rewards in store. The entire path is above the tree line, giving visitors a panoramic view of gorgeous mountainous landscapes every day, also this is very cultural trek passing though some super isolated communities.


Most accommodations and travel agencies will allow you to leave your big bags or luggage in their storage for the time that you are doing the Ausangate trek and then picked them up on your return.


The main reason that Ausangate is considered difficult is that the whole hike takes place at high altitudes. This trek is probably not suited to first-time hikers. If you are a strong walker and have finished some moderate treks prior to this then you should be fine.


The Ausangate trekking falls roughly into two categories: short (3-4 days) and long (5-7 days). If you have the time, we recommend choosing a route that is 5-7 days. This length of a circuit can provide a complete Ausangate experience and deliver more views and stunning landscapes than you thought possible in one hike.

Short Ausangate Trek (3-4days)

Also known as Mini Ausangate Treks, these shorter routes intend to provide trekkers with a sort of “best of” sample of the Ausangate region in a shorter period of time. These routes focus on Lake Puca Cocha, Ausangate glacier, and Rainbow Mountain.

Full Ausangate Trek (5-7 days)

Longer treks will take you over more mountain passes in a full circuit so you can appreciate some of the high peaks from multiple angles. Each day includes at least one & sometimes two, mountain passes ranging from 4,000 meters/ 13,000 feet up to 5,200 meters/17,0600 feet.

In comparison to Other Treks

The Ausangate trip does not come to a conclusion at Machu Picchu. Consider one of the hikes to Machu Picchu if you wish to combine a trek with a visit to the old fortress. The Inca Trail, Salkantay, and Lares hikes are the most popular. However, there are also more reasons why travelers opt to climb the Ausangate trail. Especially for those who have already seen Peru’s World Wonder or who want to escape the throng.

Ausangate, unlike the Inca Trail, does not require a permit. As a result, it is considerably easier to plan and does not necessitate scheduling months in advance.

Ausangate is not as popular as other Cusco climbs, thus there are less visitors on the trails. Even during the peak season of June to August, you may expect a more quiet experience.

Ausangate provides an exceptional opportunity to explore Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountain. Vinicunca is not featured on other treks and is usually only accessible as a day excursion from Cusco.

Altitude Sickness

For good reason, altitude sickness is a significant health risk for Andean trekkers. The Ausangate trip has an extremely high average elevation of 3,123 feet (4,000 meters). This implies you should think about it before embarking on your journey. Read on to learn more about altitude sickness, the most prevalent symptoms, and how to avoid it.

What exactly is altitude sickness?

When you go to a high altitude in a short period of time, your body may respond to the decreased oxygen content in the air. This might cause a few modest yet unpleasant symptoms during the first several days. The body adjusts with time, and these symptoms diminish. The time required varies from person to person, but in average, it takes around two days. In severe circumstances, a more serious problem may develop, necessitating medical intervention.


Mild altitude sickness symptoms are comparable to a hangover and include:

Nausea and exhaustion
Seek medical attention if you suffer any of the following more severe symptoms:

Even when resting, you have shortness of breath.
Consciousness loss

Preventing Altitude Sickness

You can receive a prescription for Diamox, a tablet containing Acetazolamide, before you go.

When you arrive in Peru, search for a popular medication known as Soroche. It may be purchased at any large pharmacy, such as Mifarma or Inkafarma.

Spend some time in Cusco prior to your hike to allow your body to acclimate. Before engaging in any vigorous activity, allow at least 1-2 hours.

Natural therapies, such as coca or mua tea, can help alleviate symptoms.

For the first several days at altitude, avoid drinking alcohol and eating large meals.

Maintain constant hydration. Altitude sickness can be exacerbated by dehydration.

What to Bring

The weather in the Andes may be erratic. Bringing the proper attire and equipment helps prepare you for any weather circumstances that may arise. Some devices will be in handy for documenting your journey, while others should be left at home or at your Cusco hotel. Always have a well-stocked first aid bag with you in case of accident. Read the packing list below to get a sense of what to bring for the Ausangate hike.


Hiking shirt with long sleeves Hiking pants
Sleeping thermal shirt and pants
Waterproof raincoat
Socks that are warm.
Ladies’ hat and sports bra
Backpack – at least 50 L
Cover for a rainproof backpack
Tablets that purify the environment
Bottle of water
Zip-lock bags are useful for storing money and papers.
Hiking poles are highly suggested.
Sleeping bag and mat (rentable from a hiking company)
Tent (if hiking on your own)
Cooking equipment (if traveling alone)


SD card Camera Phone
Back up battery

Kit for First Aid

Diamox ,paracetamol (for altitude sickness)
Band-aids with Imodium Antiseptic Cream,

Whats is the Best Time to hike the Ausangate Trail?

The best time to do the Ausangate trek, and all Peru hiking tours, is between May and September. This is the dry season in the Andes of Peru, making for sunnier weather and clearer days to take in the beautiful scenery. Try particularly for July or August, the driest months of the year. The dry season is also the high season for the area, so Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail tend to be more densely populated. Fortunately, the remote Ausangate Trek is a unique choice, making it clear of crowds year round – even during peak season.

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