Getting to the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, set deep in the Andes, is a journey and an experience that requires advance planning and preparation. To avoid arriving at the site without the right gear, we've compiled this list of things you should bring.
Calle los Olivos - Santa Rosa T1-2 - Cusco, Peru
Named after Nevado Ausangate, the highest mountain in southern Peru, the trail begins in the village of Tinki (Tinqui) on the Andean plateau about three hours east of Cusco. Much of the trail soars above 13,100 feet (4,000 meters) and traverses high alpine lakes, glacial valleys, and villages where alpacas graze freely and residents dress in traditional attire.
Travelers typically take 5 to 6 days to complete the 43-mile (70-kilometer) trail. Some tours go to Pacchanta—a town near lagoons filled with birds, alpacas, llamas, and condors—and nearby hot springs, or journey even farther afield to multi-colored Rainbow Mountain.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Ausangate Trail does not include a visit to Machu Picchu, however, if you are going to the ruins, it makes sense to add on the segment that runs to Rainbow Mountain.
- Ausangate is a challenging trek at high altitude; strong physical fitness is required.
- Tours may include a roundtrip train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Caliente, accommodation and other amenities.
- Tours operate in all weather conditions, and there may be extreme temperature drops from day and night.
- Dress appropriately.Cell phone reception on the remote trail is limited.
How to Get There
The Ausangate Trail begins in Tinki (Tinqui), about three hours by road from Cusco where most travelers begin their journey. Be sure to spend at least one or two days in Cusco to acclimatize to the altitude before starting the trail.
When to Get There
The best time to hike Ausangate is July and August, the peak of the Andean dry season, though do prepare for very cold nights. The dry season spans April to October, while the rainy season runs November to March. Well off-the-beaten-track, the trail never sees a lot of tourists, however, expect fellow travelers at Rainbow Mountain.
A Rainbow-Colored Mountain Add on an extra day to visit the magnificent Rainbow Mountain, known locally as Vinicunca. Eons ago, when the ice melted, dense concentrations of various minerals in the soil formed deep colorful stripes, ranging from red, brown, yellow, to blue, orange, and purple. Plan to reach the mountain at sunrise or right before sunset, when the colors are most vibrant.
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- ChocoMuseo Cusco
- Plaza de Armas (Huacaypata)
- Sacred Valley of the Incas
- Cusco Historic Center (Centro Historico de Cusco)
- Mercado Central de San Pedro
- Inca Museum (Museo Inka)
- Pre-Columbian Art Museum (MAP)
- Inca Trail
- San Blas
- Cusco Cathedral (Catedral del Cuzco)
- Qorikancha (Coricancha)
- Sacsayhuaman (Saqsaywaman)
- Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (CTTC)
- Planetarium Cusco