Ausangate Circuit

World → South AmericaCentral Andes → Peru → Ausangate

Click PLAY or watch a 1-minute introduction on YouTube.

One of our top 10 hikes in the world

Ausangate Circuit

Hiking Ausangate (or Auzangate) independently is recommended only for confident, self-sufficient hikers experienced at high altitude. If you tolerate cold & altitude symptoms, the trails themselves are little trouble. Some route finding is necessary. Trekking guidebook essential.

Note: This page is a stub. We were last there in 2005. Things have changed. It’s gotten very popular in recent years. You can recommend improvements by leaving recommendations or links in the comments on this page. Our editors will consider them. Thanks for your help!


  • circle sacred Ausangate massif (6372m, 20,905ft), the highest peak in southern Peru
  • 4 high passes between 4757m – 5165m!
  • 70km (43.5mi) plus sidetrips
  • almost everyone does Ausangate with a guide, but it’s quite doable independently if you are acclimated 
  • many options to extend this trek
  • best months are the May-September dry season
  • Tinqui is 5-8 hours now only about 3.5hrs by bus on a new road, about 100km S.E. of Cusco
  • sidetrip to the “rainbow mountains” of Vinicunca
Vinicunca Montana de Siete Colores, Rainbow Mountain.

Why We Like This Hike

  • PERU, all things considered, just might be the best alpine hiking in the world
  • little hiked in the past, trails were under construction in 2013. Campsites with toilet facilities are being added.
  • fantastic glacier views


  • remote, fewer trekkers than at other Cusco hikes
  • normally gorgeous sunny weather
  • hotsprings at the start & finish of the trek
  • it is very inexpensive
  • unique Qoyllur Rit’i festival held nearby in May-June
  • good fishing, we are told
  • some llamas, and thousands of alpacas



  • speak conversational Spanish if you want to do the trek on your own
  • Ausangate is dangerous!
  • altitude sickness is a big risk
  • evacuation is difficult

Click PLAY or watch some drone footage on YouTube.

  • no rescue service is available. You are on your own.
  • some route finding needed though trail signage is being added
  • No Park officers.
  • acclimatization in Cusco 3326m (10,912ft) is essential
  • theft has been a problem in recent years, especially near Upis and Paccenta. Keep everything in your tent at night.
  • 13-hour long nights in the tent
  • temperatures can fall well below freezing at night
  • be prepared for snow
  • storm could pin you in your tent
  • warm clothes & an excellent sleeping bag essential
  • batteries tend to die due to cold — keep them in your sleeping bag
  • some hikers have reported being bothered by guard dogs
  • There have been very few cases of hikers being robbed on the Ausangate Circuit, but we still tented discretely. Out of sight from the main trail. Often in sandy, dry water holes
  • if you come upon seasonal herders, don’t give anything to children. We felt it was appropriate to give some food to mothers, however


  • an independent hike is quite inexpensive
  • travel Peru for as little as US$35 / day
  • From Cusco you can take the Transportes Siwar bus (about $3 in 2017),  or hire private transport to the trailhead
  • speaking some Spanish is essential though seasonal herders in the mountains may speak only their own language
  • it is easy to rent gear, if you need anything, in Cusco for a few dollars a day for each item
  • in 2017 a guided trek out of Cusco cost about $800 / person
  • in 2018 a guided hut-to-hut trek with meals provided cost about $1600 / person.
Independent & solo with heavy pack.


  • the traditional start is Tinqui and you can still start there. Most now start at Upis, saving about 12km of walking
  • they start at one hotsprings … and finish at another hotsprings
  • hike the Circuit in either direction, but the usual direction is better; starting towards Upis (counterclockwise).
Trail to Peak
  • mountaineers might consider bagging a peak of two; most popular (we hear) are Huayruro Punco 5550m and Campa 5500m. Hire a guide if you are interested in either.

Here’s our independent route from 2005, somewhat different than the Lonely Planet recommendation:

… morning bus Cusco 3326m to Tinqui or Upis
night 0 = Tinqui 3800m
… relax, acclimatize to the higher altitude
… last minute purchase of basics

night 1 = across Arapa Pass (4757m)
… anywhere you like after crossing the pass. Near small tarns shortly after the pass is where we camped.
… this is the longest day, almost 1000m climb!
… if it looks too difficult, camp close to the Japata hotsprings before the pass & add an extra night

night 2 = across Arapacheta Pass (4850m)
… anywhere you like after crossing the pass
… continue as far as you can towards Palomani to shorten the climb next day
… this is a relatively short day.

night 3 = across Palomani Pass (5165m)
… anywhere you like after crossing the pass
… the highest pass was not as difficult as we expected… again, continue as far as you can towards Campa

night 4 = across Campa Pass (5068m)
… anywhere you like after crossing the pass. There are some lovely lakes to choose from.
… we bee-lined for the hot springs near Calachaca & stayed in a simple hostel there

night 5 = Tinqui or Cusco

amazing colours, otherworldly desert scenes
amazing colours, otherworldly desert scenes

Trekking Guides

The easiest and safest way to do Ausangate is with an adventure travel company.

Some offer hut-to-hut itineraries:


This section is for those who would like to do Ausangate independently.

Or … start independently. And decide in Tinqui.

  • most trekkers hire some kind of pack animals, at least for the first day, to take them up to altitude. Over the Arapa pass (4757m).
  • many hire guide or arriero (mule herder) in Tinqui, or organize that in Cusco

We had a recent recommendation for Cirilo Gonzalo Huaman out of Tinqui. cigohotrek (a) (Hike Ausangate ).

Recommended (in 2015) local horseman and guide, Hernan Quespe. Does not speak English, however. Hernan’s number is CL. 984134098. A local friend Enreque Pesaj CL. 942786698 does speak some English and might be able to translate for Hernan.

  • hiring horses means you can ride out in case of emergency — a very good idea on this hike!


  • very experienced hikers with a good guidebook can make the circuit without guide or animals. This is the cheapest way — carrying your own pack cost us less than US$50 / person for a week, to and from Cusco, hiking Ausangate in 2005.
  • plan your trip in conjunction with the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, if you can. That’s our best advice. It’s amazing. One of the most colourful festivals in the world.


Local Information

  • South American Explorers was closed in 2017. We are not sure whether they will ever reopen.) 
  • local trekking tour companies in Cusco are of mixed quality
  • Hostal Ausangate in Tinqui (Cayetano Crispin) supplies pack animals and is a good source of information

Best Trekking Guidebooks

We LOVE that 2003 guidebook. But certainly wish LP would update.

Best Travel Guidebooks

Best Maps

  • IGN 1:100,000 Ocongate (sheet 28-t) does not have the trail marked on it. You need Lonely Planet Trekking in the Central Andes guidebook map, as well. Buy the Ocongate map (when you get to Cusco).
  • a new, modern hikers map was being researched in 2005. Was that ever published?

Best Web Pages

Best Trip Reports



Click PLAY or watch a 2018 guided trek on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch a 2017 guided trip on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch a 2018 adventure on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch a 2014 guided trek on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch a winter trek on YouTube.

Note: This page is a stub. Questions? Suggestions? Leave a REPLY on this page. Our editors will reply.

41 Replies to “Ausangate Circuit”

  1. I completed the Circuit in June 2011 and also climbed to the summit of Ausangate with my partner. The climb is not for novices, but the trek is very good. We organised everything through Cayetano Crispin in Tinqui and he, his sons and arrieros were excellent. I recommend them.

    1. Is there a way to contact them before we leave the US? I am travelling to Peru in early August for the first time and the circuit trek is at the top of my priorities but I’m not sure what to expect.

      1. You could try clicking through the links to the trekking guide companies.

        Or wait until Cusco. Head straight for the South American Explorers office. Get the latest information there. If you want to get a guide, you can easily do it in Cusco.

  2. Hi guys,
    Thanks for this post. We plan, with my partner, to make the trek this summer in August, It looks so beautiful. We plan to do it on our own without guide. Do you think it’s possible for not very experienced trekker?

    We are a little bit afraid with the altitude sick. We plan to spend 4-5 days in Cuzco to acclimate.

    Our plan is to “rent” a mule for the all trek (following your suggestion) as it allows us to get more confortable with the food and the bags.

    That’s our plan. Please let me know if it’s totally optimistic/crazy, i don’t know.

    Do you have some plan for the Mule?

    Thanks in advance

    Guillaume 🙂

    1. The main problem is acclimatization. If you feel ill, return the way you came for a day or two.

      Otherwise, this adventure is now pretty straight forward.

  3. Hi guys, We will do it about a half of august.
    In our own absolutely. we are pretty specialized.
    do you know some places to rent a sleeping bag and tent and maybe a horse?? it’s better to do it in cusco or tinqui?? thanks!

  4. Hey guys!

    My partner and I did the ausangate trek late March 2015. We were super interested in doing the trek as cheaply as possible. Additionally, we had heard word about doing the trek with the option of sleeping in remote (and very basic) llama herder huts/buildings. This was particularly appealing as at the time of our visit, it was the end of the rainy season with the threat of cold/trying weather conditions – I guess there was also a sense of adventure about this option too.

    We were put in touch with a local horseman and guide, Hernan Quespe who was excellent. He is native to the area, and seems to know it like the back of his hand. He owns horses that you can hire to carry supplies etc. In fact, he insists on a minimum of one horse to accompany him and his trekkers. He cooks (very well) and includes an abundance of food within his fee so you don’t need to worry about this aspect. His English is pretty much non-existent but he speaks a little Spanish. This really didn’t seem to matter though, and added to the experience – we have limited Spanish but managed to get by. Because of our positive experience with him, we were very keen to share his contact details with other trekkers who might be keen on trying this beautiful trek but avoiding expensive agency fees. Additionally, arranging directly through someone like Hernan is a great way of supporting the local community which is clearly much more deprived than groups based in the more developed towns in and around Cusco.

    Hernan’s number is CL. 984134098. Hernan also has a fellow local friend called Enreque Pesaj on CL. 942786698 – this guy apparently speaks a little bit of English and can help facilitate an arrangement!

    Enjoy if you go, it really is breath-takingly beautiful. A real personal highlight of Peru for me! And I have to say, being lead by someone like Hernan and staying in llama herder huts/buildings all alone really made it a unique experience that I will never forget.


    1. Hello!
      This really makes want to follow your steps,meaning doing the same as you did.
      2 QUESTIOINS:1.How long did it take you?
      2.How much did it cost ? (I understand that the guide supplied the food and also the places to sleep ( llama herder huts/buildings)
      Thanks in advance

      1. Hi Ruvi,
        Also interested in the same. I’m now in Cusco with my wife. We have done several other treks, some in altitude and would like to form a group to go with Hernan.
        What do you think?

    2. Hey Rachael,

      That trip sounds great, i would like to hike there mid september!
      You were the only one’s to do the trek with Hernan?
      How much did it cost?
      Did you rent hiking material / sleeping bags,.. in cusco?
      How long did it take you to complete the trek?

      Kind regards,


  5. Hi ! I’m Camille, I’m french and I plan to go to Peru in May 2016. I have already travelled alone in Patagonian Andes but for this time I look for a companion to trekk with anybody ! I’ m in good physical form, I’m running, I’m climbing, I have had the first french nivel in mountain during a mountain intership in Alpes. I never went beyond 3900 meters in height but i was not sickness. I think that I would support the height with the adequate acclimatization, I would have a little headache like everybody. I’m interested by the Alpamayo trekk, This trekk too…all of trekk in fact 😉 but i have only three weeks of holidays, so with the acclimatization and little bit time of turism, it’s not very long…if anybody are interested to come with me, share ideas…let me know, my e-mail :

    PS : my english is not as fluent by talking as by writing but i have some basics in spanish too.

  6. Hello everyone! Me and my boyfriend did Ausangate hike in November 2015 on our own, without a guide, horseman, porter, it wasn’t very difficult, we carried all gear and food, during 6 days met very few local people, shepards, for us it was one of the most beautiful hikes we’ve ever done. Our total spending was about 35$ each, including food and transport. More details about our hike you can find here If you have any questions don’t hesitate, ask us!

    1. Hi Campbell,
      Was it easy to find your way in the trek? Is it well marked? Did you have a map and where did you get it? Where did you sleep?
      Contemplating whether to do it with kr without a guide…

  7. Did this trek which Hernan arranged with his brother. Perfect we called him from Vancouver Canada made arrangements reconfirmed 1 week prior to trek and the rest as they say is history. The best part was this trek is still not main stream.. Vinacunca is adding more people in the area. I would like to point out as well that SAE in Cusco can help with loads of info in this area. A non profit club well worth joining.
    cheers Robert

  8. Contraté por internet a Mapi Tour Peru por las recomendaciones. Iba con poco tiempo (solo dos noches en Cusco) y me resolvieron todo. Me buscaron en el aeropuerto con un muy buen auto, una persona de la agencia me explicó todo el plan cuando llegué al hotel, la excursión Vinicunca fue excelente, todo super coordinando. El lugar increible!!! Los guias muy buenos. Los transportes de primera calidad. Muy serios, los recomiendo.

  9. Hi all,

    We recently came back from Cusco and went out to Ausangate unsupported. We were able to navigate successfully to the Rainbow Mountains. I know there isn’t a lot of information about that, so I documented our trip and provided information for others that want to take the alternate in my blog post about our trip. I included some actual topographical mapping information also. It is a long post about our entire trip, so use the index links to navigate to the section about Ausangate. Hope this helps.


  10. Hi everyone,

    I am looking for more information about this animal rental concept. Does anyone have more information about costs? And can you take the animal with you for the entire 5 day duration of the trip? Thanks!!

  11. I believe this is the best hike in Cuzco in terms of scenery. There’s this mystique you can feel while being on the feet of the Ausangate Mountain. I agree you can definitely do this hike alone, if you want to rent a mule, you have to pay at least S/100 (around 30$) per day. This is S/50 for the mule herder plus S/50 for each mule. Be aware that by 2018 this rate has been agreed by the association of muleteers so it will be hard to negotiate down, even for Peruvians.

    As a trekker myself, I think that meeting other link-minded travellers is one of the most thing in the experience. However, in this particular trek, it is pretty hard to find a group to travel with even if you contract a tour operator. I would like to recommend the company Runnatrip (based in Peru, founded by local entrepreneurs) that connects traveller and assits them on their journey in a transparent way (eg. we don’t try to charge ridiculous amounts for no reason).

  12. Hi all,

    We are a group of 4 planning to do the Ausangate trek on our own in the end of May, we have some questions if anyone knows:

    – Is it fairly easy to hire arriero / horses at Tinki on the day before the trek? What about in Pacchanta ?
    – There are already phone numbers of arrieros in this page, does anyone know if they respond texts or have emails that they respond to? I can’t really speak Spanish over the phone but I could try to write to them.
    – Is it recommended to first take a taxi from Tinki to Upis/Pacchanta (where the hot springs are) and start the trek there, instead of trekking those parts?

  13. I’m surprised this isn’t mentioned but..

    If you are doing this independently, You must store EVERYTHING in your tent at night especially near Upis and Paccenta. Theft is incredibly common. We met people who left their bags in the vestibules and their sunscreen was taken. Google “ausangate theft” to read about other cases, a bikepackers bike gone, a hikers shoes stolen. Seriously look at some of the locals’ shoes, you will be surprised.

    I’d recommend getting a taxi to the Upis hot springs on day one and getting as far from their as possible. Also if you arrive in Paccenta before 3 you could probably get a taxi down to tinke the same day.

  14. No spanish at all, but still would like to do without a guide. Do you think is possibile? Would be the end of May(May 15-20?) ok for this trip?

  15. Hi, my name is Abel. I m tour guide here in Cusco and manager of AB Expeditions company. I really like your recommendations. I have been guiding Ausangate since 2012 so I experience cold at night, hail, rain and sometimes snow so I decided to build the shelter in every campsite that protects our customers. We are the only company that has shelter on every campsite!

    Thank you for your help

    Best regard


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