The Ausangate Trek is one of the most beautiful treks in the world, and is located near the beautiful city of Cusco.
My two friends Gaddo and Vito and I arrived in Cusco on a Friday afternoon-the idea was to find a guide by the end of the weekend. Gaddo and I had already been to Cusco, while Vito had not. We were therefore going to split up: Vito would go to Machu Picchu, while Gaddo and I intended to leave for the Ausangate trek. When I say ‘we had the intention’ it means that at some point the trek was strongly questioned, since despite several tours in the wonderful city of Cusco we could not find a good agency for this trek.
We thus discovered that this trek is not as famous as the Santa Cruz, Salkantay and Inca Trail. After various vicissitudes, we finally found a good (which would turn out to be great) agency: Hike Ausangate. Once our reservation was confirmed, we spent Saturday night partying at Loki and Chango in Cusco. On Sunday afternoon, in a hangover condition, we met with a guy from the agency for the details of the trek.
We left Cusco around 6:30 a.m. with destination Tinke. Here the guys from Hike Ausangate prepared a good lunch for us, and in the afternoon we walked only 5km to reach the camp. Here, for the brave (temperatures at 4450 meters are already distinctly cold) it is possible to take a dip in the hot springs. Both Gaddo and I did not have the urge to put on our bathing suits, and after dinner (served very early, around 6 p.m.) we jumped into the tent.
Unlike the Santa Cruz trek, the start of the day in the Ausangate trek is at the crack of dawn: in fact, by 7 a.m. we were already on our way, about 30 to 60 minutes earlier than in the other trek. This departure time already made us realize that .the walk was going to be tough. And indeed the walk began with an ascent from 4450 meters to 4750, where we reached the first pass of the day. From the pass we descended to the lagoons, where we had lunch.
Here we mistakenly thought the most was done, but the guide told us we would have to climb to 4950 meters and then descend again. The view from this second pass is something sincerely unique: on one side the snow-capped Ausangate and its lagoons, on the other a red valley that would take us all the way to the camp before the colorful mountain. After this pass, we descended to 4600 meters.
The alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. for an obvious reason: to get there before the tourists to Vinicunca, also called colorful mountain. To get to the colorful mountain we first descended a 4980-meter-high pass. After the pass we descended walking through a beautiful valley characterized by red color and finally arrived at the famous viewpoint! I must say that getting to Vinicunca is really satisfying, especially through a four-day trek: in particular, it was very nice to see this famous Rainbow Mountain practically without tourists.
After waving goodbye to ‘Rainbow Mountain’ a long descent began to the small village of Chillca, the old entry point to this mountain. Here we heard a history lesson, recent but still history: until 2017 the walk to VInicunca was much longer than it is today, and some Andean peoples frowned upon tourism. Despite this opposition, a ticket office and some tourist signs were still created. When the Andean communities were beginning to appreciate tourism, a new trail was opened that was significantly shorter and did not touch Chillca.
We thus walked through these totally abandoned, almost desolate ticket booths, leaving us with a feeling of bitterness for these Andean communities, which were just beginning to experience the benefits that tourism can bring.
After this long descent we arrived in Chillca, a very nice little village: a group of llamas welcomed us and we celebrated by drinking a couple of beers. From Chillca we took a kind of mototaxi for 7km on the dusty Andean roads back to the trail: beautiful! In fact, it was definitely fun to talk to a campesino during this three-way trip on a beat-up scooter! Once back on the trail we walked the last 3 easy kilometers.
The day began with the last Pass of the 4-days trek. Arriving at 5100 meters we saw many lagoons, and I especially remember one in which Ausangate is perfectly mirrored. As we descended, we began to see more lagoons-these can be reached by day from Cusco. We met a lady with her daughter, who greeted us warmly: the feeling is that the Andean people are proud but welcoming toward the tourist. After a long descent we thus arrived at Pacchanta, where we had lunch and drinks or our much-deserved beers. From here, we drove to Cusco.