Day 1: Cusco – Tinki
In the morning, we’ll travel 100km southeast from Cusco by bus. The road passes north of Ausangate, and we leave the road a bit west of the mountain to camp in Tinki at 3,800m. As we fall asleep, the setting sun lights up the glacier on the northwest face of Ausangate.
Day 2: Tinqui – Upis
Hike up to the Ausangate glacier, then set up camp alongside the Upis hot springs about 4km further on. We’ll enjoy the contrast of bathing in the hot springs and the cold Upismayo River running beside our camp.
Day 3: Upis – Pucacocha
Hike up to a 4,500m pass separating Ausangate proper to the east from a spur named Quellacocha to the west. In the afternoon we pass Lake Pucacocha, WSW of the summit and nestled among various minor peaks. The setting sun plays in cascades of colored ice where we finally make camp.
Day 4: Pucacocha – Chilcapinaya
We continue walking among the unnaturally blue-green high-altitude lakes in the valley immediately south of Ausangate. We ascend to cross the Palomani Pass at 4,800m, the high point of the journey. We don’t pass between the massif and the spur but rather climb to take advantage of a gentler slope high on the mountain’s side. Here we can see east over the large hand-shaped Lake Sivinacocha to the jagged, snowcapped Vilcanota Mountains which cradle this valley. We descend from the cold to camp at Chilcapinaya.
Day 5: Chilcapinaya – Pachaspata
We descend into the sunny Jampa Valley, inhabited by shepherds and their herds of alpaca and sheep. We’ll have lunch in the valley bottom, pass Lake Ticllacocha, and then climb over a pass at 4,650m. Camp is at the small Lake Q´omercocha if we make it or at Pachaspata if dusk catches us there.
Day 6: Pachaspata – Pacchanta
We drop into the valley and village of Pacchanta and bathe in their hot springs all afternoon.
Day 7: Pacchanta – Tinki – Cusco
We pass through increasingly inhabited valleys among the headwaters of the Paucartambo River on the north side of the mountain until the sun sets. Returning to the road and our bus, we’ll get back to Cusco for happy hour and a night at the discos or a long rest, whichever you fancy.