Andean Lodges: Camino del Apu Ausangate (4n/5d)

Mountain Lodges are a fantastic way to experience the Andes

Mountain Lodges are a fantastic way to experience the Andes

Day 1: Cusco – Chillca
Early in the morning we will embark on an interesting bus ride through the fertile Vilcanota Valley to Checacupe. After visiting the colonial temple, we will go up to the Pitumarca Valley, following along the spectacular Japura Canyon leading to Chillca, where we will be greeted by the community. From there it’s a short hike to the first tambo (lodge). Upon arriving at the lodge we will have time to relax and enjoy the music offered by the local people.

Day 2: Chillca – Machuracay
On this day our hike begins in the broad Pampa Uyuni Valley, where we will enjoy amazing views of the majestic glaciers over the plain. Our path will become increasingly narrow as we approach the waterfalls coming down from the Santa Catalina Mountain. Las llamas that live in the region also frequent this path, so when we arrive at the small Laguna de Paloma (Paloma Lake), the landscape will be full of Andean camelids (llamas and alpacas). After passing a second lake and crossing a long series of moraines, we will arrive at Machuracay Tambo, located right at the foot of Apu Ausangate.

Day 3: Machuracay – Anantapata
After a demanding trek up to the Palomichayoc Pass, at about 5100 meters (16732 feet) above sea level, we will take in the unforgettable landscape before descending to Lake Ausangatecocha. As we approach the reddish sandy formations of the Nevado del Inca, the impressive views of the glacier on the southern side of Apu will inspire us as we hike. We will spend the night at Anantapata Tambo, in the vicinity of the imposing Nevado del Inca.

Day 4: Antanapata – Huampococha
Today we will enjoy one of the most spectacular parts of our trail, leading us through mountain scenery with multicolored strata, featuring reds, yellows, ochres, grays, blues, etc. This stretch is an excellent opportunity to study these geological wonders and admire the unique beauty of the landscape. It is also the ideal place to observe the gracious wild vicuñas that can often be found in these isolated spots. Surrounded by peculiar rock formations, we will spend the night at Huampococha Tambo, near the lake that bears the same name, where pairs of huallatas, or Andean geese, usually build their nests.

Day 5: Huampococha – Cusco
After one last brief ascent, this time up the Anta Pass, we begin our gradual descent. The first homes and cultivated fields begin to appear. The landscape begins to shift rapidly and the red sandy formations are followed by eroded limestone mountains forming a unique forest of rocks (the ideal habitat for the shy vizcacha, of the same family as the chinchilla). As we arrive once again at the Pitumarca Valley, our bus will be waiting for our return trip to Cusco.

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