FIRST DAY: Cusco – K’airahuiri Alto
We’ll depart at around 07:30 a.m. from Cusco. As the journey begins, we head towards the city of Puno, travelling on a blacktop road through the lush Vilcanota Valley. We’ll leave the paved road after 2 hours and 15 minutes and continue onto a gauge road, stopping at the colorful village of Checacupe. After a visit to the Colonial Church of the Immaculate Conception, we´ll start our climb out of the Pitumarka Valley.
We’ll arrive at Pitumarka town for a brief rest. Here we can buy some basic refreshments before continuing on to the village at Hanchi Pacha. From here it’s one hour of travel through some beautifully scenic valleys and canyons to reach the village known as Hanchi Pacha. Sensing our approach, llamas and alpacas will momentarily interrupt their grazing to observe us with wide-eyed stares. There are some unusual rock formations on this section of the road, and we will have time for scenic photos.
We should arrive at the village of Hanchi Pacha after a total of 4 hours of travel from Cusco. Here we will refuel with an open-air picnic lunch, after which we will meet the local horseman who will accompany us on our Rainbow Mountain Peru trek.
Along the route, we might chance upon one or more of the local weavers practicing their craft while keeping watch over her flocks. This region, Quisipicanchis, has a time-honored, rich textile tradition. After lunch, we’ll hike for approximately for 2 hours, climbing steadily until we reach the village of K’airahuiri Bajo (4 550 m.a.s.l/14 925ft). Here, we’ll enjoy spectacular views of the magnificent valley and its surrounding mountains.
From here, we will continue another 40 minutes to our campsite, and to the control point in K’airahuiri Alto (4 700 m.a.s.l./15 420ft), with views across the verdant valley. Along with the previous recommendation of three days of acclimatization, we strongly suggest you bring lots of warm clothes and a -15 degree Celsius sleeping bag to ward off the low temperatures you will be experiencing.
Overnight: K’airahuiri Alto (camping)
SECOND DAY: K’airahuiri Alto – Rainbow Mountain – Pucacocha
We’ll have an early breakfast and then begin a walk of approximately one and a half hours towards Vinicunca Pass, the site of the famous Rainbow Mountains of Peru. At this point, our breathing will become increasingly labored as we gain altitude. Once we arrive at the top of the pass, there may be some frigid gusts of wind, so please ensure that you are wrapped up warmly and that your head is protected with a woolly hat.
You will be rewarded for your trekking efforts when you finally see the incredible Vinicunca, with its vibrant multi-hued layers of rock sediment: turquoise, orange, brown, and red. In addition to the great views of the colored mountain itself, you will have majestic views of snow-capped Apu Ausangate, provided the day is clear. This trek to Vinicunca is without a doubt the most famous new attraction in Peru and there will be plenty of people taking selfies.
After some time to rest and take photos and the chance to observe a spectacular sunrise, we’ll head on to Pucacocha Lake over two passes – the “Menos Ponco”(4 900 m.a.s.l/16 076ft) and the “Chillca”(5 100 m.a.s.l./ 16 732ft). It should take between 4 and 5 hours to get to our campsite and prepare to rest for the evening.
Camp: Pucacocha Lake (14 943 ft / 4 556 m.a.s.l.)
THIRD DAY: Pucacocha – Palomani Pass – Chillca
This is a stunning morning’s walk as we hike with the Ausangate Mountain on our left hand side; we’ll pass clear glacial lakes, and, if we are lucky, herds of local alpacas and llamas. First up is Apacheta Pass at 4 600 m.a.s.l/15 091ft.. From here we ascend to the Palomani Pass (5 200 m.a.s.l./ 17 056 ft). We have now attained the highest point of the trek. As we cross the pass, we will be confronted with spectacular views of the southeast mountain range, including the peaks of Mariposa and Caracol. From the pass we follow the trail into the valley, where we’ll rest and have lunch. During the afternoon we can enjoy views of the snow-capped Tres Picos and Puca Punta. We will continue through the broad green valley of Pampa Jutunpata and up the Rio Q’ampa Valley, where we will spend Night 3 of our trek.
FOURTH DAY: Q’ampa to Pacchanta
After passing through the small community of Q’ampa, we will head northwest to the last pass of this hike, the Q’ampa pass (5 000 m.a.s.l./ 16 400 ft). We will see several different colored lakes and lunch beside beautiful blue-green Lake Q’omercocha (15 429ft/ 4 704 m.a.s.l.)
We will then hike for several hours before arriving at the small village of Pacchanta. (13 152ft/ 4 010 m.a.s.l.) This was traditionally a small high-altitude herding village like many others in the region. However, with the arrival of tourism, the village has adapted its activities to include demonstrations of their style of living and creation of weavings for visitors.
We can take a shower in the hot springs for a couple of hours, and even down a well-deserved beer. This is certainly an amazing photo opportunity with Apu Ausangate as a backdrop. We will set up camp near Pacchanta and you will have the afternoon free to explore this intriguing Andean village. (You have the option of staying in a basic hostal, rather than camping, for this night)
Night 4: At Pacchanta
FIFTH DAY: From Pacchanta to Cusco
It’s a 3 hour trek back to Tinqui, where we will have time to explore this traditional Andean village before taking our private car back to Cusco, arriving at about 06:00 p.m. The construction of the Trans- Oceanic highway has completely changed this drive from a bumpy dirty road to a smooth continental highway that takes about 3 hours. The scenic drive winds up and over a pass for a last glimpse of imposing Ausangate Mountain, where you just spent 5 days trekking on one of the most fantastic of all Peru treks. Even more intriguing is the fact that you will be one of the few people in the world who has accomplished the combined Vincunca Rainbow Mountain trek with the Ausangate circuit trek.
This Rainbow Mountain Vinicunca Peru trek/ Ausangate trek is an experience you will never forget.
Ausangate and Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain Trek – 5 days
- The times cited in this itinerary are approximate. Walking times depend on the group and the guide can change lunch spots and campsites, depending on the progress of the group. Each guide has their own preferred route and it might not correspond exactly to the route described here.
- The Ausangate region is very high, plus you are close to a snow covered massif. Temperatures are cold, and can fall well below freezing in the nights. You should travel well prepared for cold temperatures. Hire/or carry sleeping bags for temperatures less than freezing (minus 15 celsius or more).
- This region has limited tourist infrastructure and this tour makes use of local facilities. Visitors should be aware that things change, or may not go to plan. This is all part of the adventure, and visitors to Peru are encouraged to have an open mind and be open to the differences in the way things are done in another culture.
- Pre Trek Briefing
- Collection from your hotel in the morning of trek departure.
- Private transport from Cusco to Tinqui (the trailhead) and return at the end of the trek
- Entry fee to the Ausangate mountain.
- English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide (you will have an assistant guide for groups over 8 people).
- Tents – 2 people in a 4 person tent which allows for greater comfort, and also storage of backpacks. .
- Basic foam mattress. If you require greater comfort during the trek we can hire you an inflatable mattress (eg. Thermarest)
- Cook and Cooking equipment (Assistants are provided for larger groups)
- Toilet tent
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary (optional vegetarian food). Our professional cooks prepare meals that incorporate elements of the western diet and also traditional Peruvian delicacies. (Please communicate with your guide/cook during the trek if you have a preference for certain types of dishes). Salads, if served, are washed in boiled water.
- Horses (for equipment and personal items) including horsemen. They carry camping equipment, food and kitchen utensils. We provide duffel bags at your briefing for your personal items (up to 7 kg/15lbs per person)
- 1 emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if are a little slower
- Dining tent with camp tables and chairs & Kitchen tent for the cook to prepare meals
- Tents for our staff to sleep in, sleeping bags & mattresses plus a budget for their meals.
- First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle – but not blister treatments as known in western countries.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED?
- Breakfast on the first morning.
- Sleeping bags If you haven’t got a sleeping bag or you don’t want the hassle of bringing one all the way to Peru with you, then we have sleeping bags for hire.For this trek you should hire minus 15 or warmer bags.
- Tips for the guide, cook and porters
- Additional horses for passengers luggage
Bring and Carry
WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING
- A light day pack with a change of clothes for the whole period of the trek – prepare for a vast range of changes in temperature.
- Rain gear (jacket and pants if available) or rain poncho. Plastic ponchos can be bought for about $1 in Cusco.
- Strong footwear, waterproof trekking boots recommended. Extra socks are a must.
- Sandals or plastic slip on thongs are also good to give your feet a chance to breath in the evenings if you wish to carry them.
- Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces, gloves, scarf and beanie/touk. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping. ** This is a particularly cold trek, you should make sure you have a lot of very warm clothes.
- Sleeping bag (we can hire these to you)
- Torch/ Flashlight and spare batteries
- Camera, films and batteries (batteries consume more quickly under cold conditions)
- Hat or cap to protect you from the sun, rain and cold
- Sun block
- After-sun cream or hydrating cream for face and body
- Insect repellent – minimum recommended 20% DEET – although no malaria risk has been reported
- Toilet paper, pack in & pack out
- Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits, muesli, etc.
- Non-disposable canteen (Nalgene type) and water for the first morning.
- We advise you to bring water sterilizing tablets in case you collect water from streams.
- Your own medical kit with any special medications that you might require, paracetamol, second skin for blisters etc.
- Small towel or sarong
- Bathers/swimsuit (if you intend on swimming in hot springs)
- Cash – sufficient for your final lunch in Aguas Calientes, tips and souvenirs.
- Original passport & ISIC (International Student Identity Card) if you have one.
- Walking sticks or poles (we can hire these to you. Please note poles with metal tips cannot be carried into Machu Picchu and should be left at your hotel on the final day)
- Binoculars (if you have them)
We can hire the following to you – please contact your Travel Consultant / or our booking forms for the current rates.
- Extra mule to carry YOUR things
- Extra riding mule and muleteer to lead it
- Sleeping Bag suitable for – 10deg
- Deluxe Sleeping Bag suitable for -15deg.
- Walking stick lightweight aluminum – Two sticks are recommended for tough hikes.
- Thermarest inflatable mattress –
- Thermarest Inflatable pillow
- Comforting Camping trek upgrade – bigger tents, camp beds, includes sleeping bag, thermarest, and walking stick.
- Single tent supplement (if you don’t want to share a tent)