Peru Ausangate Trek

Discover the unspoiled nature of the Camino del Apu Ausangate, a beautiful and demanding off-the-beaten-path trek in the Andes of Peru. Experience the history of the Inca Empire in the ruins of Machu Picchu and Cusco.

Ausangate is the magnificent snowy mountain seen from the “modern” Inca capital of Cusco. It is the largest mountain in the Cusco region at 6,372m/20,905ft and the locals still worship the god Apu residing at its summit.

This six-day trek around this awesome massif includes several 5,000m/16,500ft high passes. Experience llamas grazing on the plains, ancient Inca villages, and hiking past blue, green and even red lakes to remote campsites with spectacular views.

This trek is mule supported affording an unburdened hike. You will visit hot springs, meet friendly locals and enjoy amazing mountain views, making this one of the world’s greatest mountain circuit treks.

The first days in Cusco include an organized acclimatization hike and visits to ruins around Cusco. The delights of Cusco on this evening will complete this day primarily designed to help you breathe. Day nine is the classic train journey to the lost city of the Incas: Machu Picchu.

Cultural Note

Peru is a fascinating country, full of rich historical events, people and culture. Cusco is one of the highest cities in the world (3,399m/11,152ft) and it will take some getting used to the lack of air. The first, and possibly most difficult, climb will be up the stairs to your hotel room. It is very important that these first days at altitude are slightly more relaxed than you might be accustomed to.

Enjoy the walk around the square; exploring the markets and having a cup of coca tea while watching the world go by (see note below). The foods of this region include a rich variety of tastes, and venturing “off the plate” to better understand the complexities and diversities of centuries of development is a reward unto itself.

Basic English can be used to communicate in most situations. Some Spanish may be helpful, but is not necessary, when bargaining with the local merchants. Quechua is the local language and a few words such as “Thank you” will bring a smile to the residents.


For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.

DAY 1: Arrival in Cusco

Arriving from Lima on the spectacular flight along the Andes begins this tour. After pick up and transfer to your hotel, you will start the acclimatizing necessary in the rarefied air of this beautiful city (3399m/11,152ft).

In the afternoon, you can take a short walking tour of the center of Cusco, familiarizing yourselves with the main sights, restaurants and markets, and giving you a chance to stretch your legs and lungs. At a convenient time your guide will arrange a full briefing for the days ahead. (No meals included on Day 1)

Cusco City tour

DAY 2: Cusco Inca Ruins/City Tour

Your guide and minibus are at your disposal for the day to explore Cusco and its outlying ruins. A 9:00am pick-up for the ten kilometre drive out of Cusco at Inca ruin of Tambo Machay. This is popularly called the Inca’s Bath due to its finely preserved waterfalls, carefully diverted through fine stone channels.

The Incas acknowledged water as one of the principal elements of life and revered it accordingly.

A few hundred metres back towards Cusco you visit the site of Puca Pucara. This delightful ruin on a small prominence is believed not to be the ’red fort’ its name suggest but a ‘Tambo’ – a rest house for travelling animals, goods and travellers. You now cut across country following the old Inca road from Cusco to Pisac.

The traditional farming methods and highly adapted Andean crops are a treat to see still functioning.

With Cusco now in your sights you visit the fascinating Q’enko. This ‘waca’ contains some of the finest examples of Inca carvings in-situ. The eroded limestone fissures have been artfully carved into zigzag channels (from where Q’enko derives its name), pumas, condors, snakes and houses.

Bountiful Mummy Niches in the caves, an amphitheatre and the central phallic column all add to the mystery of its multi-functional use.

After a picnic lunch you visit your final and most stunning ruin is the extensive Sacsayhuaman. Although the smaller stones of Sacsayhuaman were used to build modern day Cusco, the remaining stones are up to 8.5m high and weigh over 360 tones. The distinctive zigzag ramparts that form are attributed to being Puma teeth, lightening and also fortification.

This major centre obviously had many functions with storehouses, administration buildings, reservoir and play area. It was also site of a crucial battle between the Incas and the Spanish.

With time and energy permitting, you head down to San Cristobal church built on top of Inca Manco Capac’s Palace and a fantastic view point of Cusco, then into San Blas the photographic, artisan area of Cusco for some culture and souvenirs.

You return to Cusco to pack and prepare for the big trek ahead. (B, L)

Cusco area ruins tour

DAY 3: Drive to Tinqui (Day 1 Hiking)


After an early breakfast, you set off on the stunning drive to the trailhead. The journey includes lunch with views of the awaiting Ausangate.

On arrival at Tinqui (3,800m/12,467ft) you meet the muleteers and their families. Here you have a chance to understand a little about the lives of these marvelous people and take an acclimatization hike before camping for the night in Tinqui. (B, L, D)

Trailhead transfer to Tinqui (4 hours)

Acclimatization hike

DAY 4:  Hike to Upis Hot Springs (Day 2 Hiking)


You will wake up to an introduction to camp life and packing the mules. Today consists of a gentle up-hill hike past open puna, highland meadows and several water tables.

With luck, you may see viscachas (the long tailed highland rabbits), alpaca and llama herds, and Andean condors and foxes before arriving at our campsite of Upis (4,400m/14,436ft).

The Upis thermal springs, in the shadow of the snow covered Ausangate, provide a spectacular yet eerie camp setting for the evening. Here you will have the chance to bathe in the hot springs and plunge into the cold Upismayo that runs beside the camp.

After dinner the muleteers will ask you to participate in a ‘Jaiway’, where you will make an offering to the mountain god Apu requesting a safe passage around the mountain. (B, L, D)

Hiking (10 km/6.3mi mainly uphill, 5 hours)

DAY 5:  First pass to Jatun Pucacocha (Day 3 Hiking)

After this morning’s sharp ascent, you skirt the western shoulder of Ausangate at Arapa pass (4,800m/15,750ft). The colorful moon-like rock formations are a stark contrast to the white beauty of Ausangate.

The afternoon’s descent passes the spectacular Uchuy Pucacocha (Little Red Lake) and its waterfalls before arriving at our campsite beside the red waters of Jatun Pucacocha (Big Red Lake) at 4100m/13,450ft.

Your evening’s rest may be interrupted by the sound of glacial ice cracking or breaking off and falling from the side of the mountain into the terminal moraines high above the campsite. (B, L, D)

Hiking (20 km/12.4mi, 9-10 hours)

DAY 6: Two passes to Ausangate Base Camp (Day 4 Hiking)

Today is mainly a steady ascent rewarding you with the two passes of Apuchata (4,900m/16,076ft) and Palomani (5,200m/17,060ft). Palomani is the highest point on this tour and the steady pace set by the guide will assure that you make it over this imposing pass.

The beautiful azure lake of Ausangatecocha and the back view of Ausangate provide the backdrop for this fascinating, yet tough day. You pass through the traditional base camp used for mountain ascents before finishing with a descent to your campsite in the meadow below. Glacial moraines surround our campsite at 4,510m/14,800ft. (B, L, D)

Hiking (12 km/7.5mi, 7-8 hours)

DAY 7: Campa Pass (Day 5 Hiking)

You will follow the broad, green, glacial formed valley up to the small lake of Ticllacocha. More viscachas and hopefully some rare vicuñas may be spotted as you continue on this section of the trail. The Campa Pass (5050m/15,568ft) may be the most impressive pass you will encounter, with its glaciers, scree fields and snow, providing a truly big mountain expedition feel. We descend to the meadow below to camp at 4,650m/15,255ft. (B, L, D)

Hiking (11 km/6.8mi, 5-6 hours)

DAY 8: Hike to Paccanta Hot Springs, Tinqui (Day 6 Hiking)

This morning’s hike is mostly gentle and downhill, finishing at the Pacchanta Hot Springs (4360m/14,300ft). Here you have a chance to soak your exhausted muscles in the lovely hot water pools.

You will continue your hike down to Tinqui to rendezvous with the vehicle for the return journey to Cusco. After thanking the caballeros and kissing the mules good-bye, you will be driven back to Cusco for an enjoyable hot shower and cold beer. (B, L)

Hiking (15km/9.3mi, 6-7 hours)

Trailhead transfer to Cusco (4 hours)

DAY 9: Day Trip to Machu Picchu 

Today is your chance to visit the famous Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The early morning train down from Cusco brings you to this famous citadel perched above the sacred Urubamba River. Machu Picchu is actually lower than Cusco at 2,400m/7874ft.

After meeting your private guide, you will enjoy a fully guided tour explaining some of the significant areas, building techniques and how the kingdom is thought to have operated.

You will have some time afterwards to climb to Intipunku Sun Gate, walk out to the Inca Bridge, or climb Huayna Picchu (due to permit restrictions, please let us know when booking if you want to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain).

You may also want to just wander through the ruins soaking up the amazing atmosphere. You board the afternoon train from Aguas Calientes back to the Sacred Valley where the waiting bus returns you to the Cusco Hotel. If you have the energy the evening is an excellent chance to explore Cusco’s vibrant nightlife. (B, L)

Machu Picchu tour

DAY 10. Cusco – Home

Today, we transfer to Cusco airport, about 30 minutes from the Plaza, in time for your internal and international flights home. (B)

For those requiring Lima hotel, airport transfers and internal flight services within Peru, please contact us for best options and availability. Extra nights in Cusco can also be organized plus any extensions required.

*(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)

While the above information describes a typical itinerary, the tour’s actual itinerary may vary due to changes in transportation, weather, lodging availability, local events or safety conditions. We reserve the right to alter the tour due to these circumstances should the need arise.


For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.

Tour Dates:

June 2 – 11, 2013

October 20 – 30, 2013

(Custom dates available upon request)

Prices (based on double occupancy):

4-9 guests:  $1995 per guest
10-16 guests:  $1595 per guest
Single Supplement  $400

Price Includes: All airport transfers. Transport to and from the trail in private vehicle; all camping and cooking equipment including Therm-a-rests, spacious two person tents, dining, cook and toilet tent.

Extensive first-aid kit including oxygen; professional English and Spanish speaking guides trained in first-aid and C.P.R., mules, cook team. 3 star hotel in Cusco. All meals as indicated in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).

Price Excludes: National or International flights, personal belongings, sleeping bag (available for rent with thermal liners at $10 a night), the optional ascent of Campa and all climbing equipment – (ice-axes, crampons and harnesses are available for rent), airport taxes (if applicable), travel insurance and tips.

Single Supplement Policy:  All tour pricing is based on double occupancy lodging. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability.

If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender.  If you reserve your tour at least 90 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement  of half the standard single supplement (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). 

Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early.


For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.

Activities:  Hiking, camping, sightseeing

Rating:  Challenging

Group Size:  4-16 guests

Length:  10 days/9 nights

Meeting Time & Place:  Cusco Airport (airport code CUZ) or Cusco Hotel on Day 1. After clearing customs, you will be met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel. Airport transfers on day 1 and 10 are included in the trip price.

Note: All international flights arrive in Lima before continuing on to Cusco. We recommend arriving in Cusco the day before Day 1 to insure you will arrive in time for the morning departure to the river rafting on Day 1. Call us about arranging pre-trip lodging in Lima or Cusco.

Departure Time & Place:  Cusco Airport (airport code CUZ) on Day 10. Do not book departing flights earlier than noon.

Best Time To Travel:  May – October

Weather and Climate: Due to the alpine environment, weather is variable throughout the day and by elevation. Dressing in layers will be essential to your comfort throughout the day.

Rain is possible at any time and weather conditions can change rapidly in the mountains, so having rain gear is highly recommended. At the same time, the sun is strong at higher elevations, and therefore adequate precautions should be taken to prevent sunburn, even on cool, sunny days.

On average, the temperature in June through August range from highs in the 70’s and 80’s Fahrenheit and lows in the 40’s and 50’s Fahrenheit.  More detailed weather information is available by visiting

Physical Preparation:  This tour is designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and possess a positive attitude.

Most activities are 3-4 hours in either the morning or afternoon with a lunch stop in between. It is very important that you realistically assess your physical condition with regard to the demands of this trip. All participants must be in good overall physical condition. 

The more physically prepared you are for this tour, the more you will enjoy this unique, adventure experience. We encourage you to call us and talk more specifically about any questions you have on the activities, your fitness, and any other aspects of the trip – please don’t be shy!


For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.

Day 1, 2, and 8, 9.  Cusco, Hotel Tupac Yupanqui (or similar)

The quaint Tupac Yupanqui Palace Hotel is one of Cusco’s most historically significant as well as conveniently located accommodations.

It is situated only two blocks from the main square, Plaza de Armas, putting you within minutes’ reach of all the entertainment, culture, dining, and nightlife that the ancient city has to offer.
Day 3 – 7 (5 nights). Camino del Apu Ausangate Mountain Camps

Mountain side camps are located with great views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Tents, sleeping bags and pads are provided.


For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.


For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.


In 2010, Dean created a three week Alaskan tour for my two sons and me. For all the trips I`ve ever taken in my life, and I`ve traveled quite a bit, this was by far the most customized trip I`ve ever taken. He did a great job of challenging us and catering it to our desires. The whole thing was exquisitely coordinated. — David K. New York, NY

I have traveled with Dean on more than one occasion and I cannot speak highly enough about his professionalism, friendliness and dedication to his guests. Dean is an excellent guide and he makes every trip an adventure. His excellent attitude ensures that every guest will have a great time. I am looking forward to traveling with Return On Adventure because I know any trip that Dean facilitates will exceed my expectations. — Janet H., San Diego, CA

I would like to express appreciation to Return On Adventure for an absolutely perfect ten-day trip to Guatemala a couple of years ago. The hotels, were very nice and the guides were always on time, provided excellent information, answered questions, and escorted me to wonderful sites in the country. I highly recommend this company, as my experience was wonderful! — Lee W. Fort Collins, CO

Your next trip needs to be this one! The highest place in Africa is absolutely spectacular!! Excellent service and attention to detail. Incredible guide and support. Great food. Quality gear. I would highly recommend Return On Adventure. There was excellent service and attention to detail throughout. — Andrea D. San Francisco, CA

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