Ausangate & Rainbow Mountain 4D/3N
Price: $585USD Per person
This trail is for those who are looking to explore the Andes in the Puna areas. You will explore the majesty of the Andes, and learn about the traditions of the Andean people. The area is inhabited by traditional Incan animals, such as large herds of llamas and alpacas. This is the only area in the Cusco region to see the indigenous, Incan habitat of the vicuña (which has the most expensive wool in the world). Besides seeing these most impressive views of the glacier peaks and blue lakes, you will also enjoy a hike where you will see llamas in the Vilcanota Mountain Range. You will be among the first to enjoy the newly discovered, and now famous Rainbow Mountains (Rin Vinicunca).
Day 1: Cusco – Tinki – Upis – Hot Springs
We will pick you up from your hotel at 4 a.m. to begin your expedition. You will have private transportation to the trail head at Tinki. Tinki is a small Andean village located near Ocongate, located at 3,900 m/12,795 ft above sea level. Here, you will meet your horsemen and horses. You will enjoy your first breakfast prepared by our trekking chef. Then, you will start the gradual, uphill hike. It will be three or four hours until we reach our lunch area. Along the way, we will have amazing views of Ausagnate, far in the distance. We will pass by traditional villages, and perhaps meet some local people, dressed in their colorful, traditional clothing. They may be accompanying their indigenous llamas. Our lunch spot is in an amazing location, surrounded by stunning mountains and an excellent view of Ausangate Glacier peak. After lunch, it will be another two hour hike until we reach our campsite at Upis Alto, near the famous hot springs. Upis Alto is a small village located at 4,100 m/13,451 ft elevation. This will be our first campsite at the skirt of Ausangate.
Walked Distance: 13 km / 8 m
Campsite Elevation: 4,100 m / 13,450 ft
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinking water
Weather: Dry and cold
Day 2: Upis – Condor Pass – Pucaccocha
After an early, nutritious breakfast you will prepare for the second day of the hike. Today, you will have wonderful views of the Ausangate glacier peaks. You will also see the lakes and waterfalls, and perhaps some llamas, alpacas and wild vicuñas (the undomesticated ancestor of the alpaca), as well as condors soaring above. We will have a three hour, uphill hike until we reach the first pass, which is at 5,000 m/ 16,404 ft high. You will have magnificent views of the surrounding area, especially in the dry season. In some months of the year, we will hike through some snow. You will most likely get to see vicuñas, which are the most impressive, wild animals in Peru. They belong to the family of Andean camelids. Today, their fleece is the most expensive wool the world. After taking some amazing pictures, we will continue on a two and a half hour, gradual, downhill hike until we reach a beautiful area, where you will enjoy your second day’s lunch. Following, it will be another two and a half hours until we arrive at our campsite, at Puca Ccocha (Red Lake). This campsite is one of the most beautiful campsites, located at the skirt of the Ausangate peak and at the bank of the lake. You can see amazing sunsets from here, and perhaps some condors and eagles flying nearby.
Walked Distance: 12 km /7.5 m
Campsite Elevation: 4,300 m / 14,100 ft
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinking water
Weather: Dry and cold
Day 3: Pucaccocha – Alpaca Pass – Chillca – Vicuña Pass Yanaccocha
We will wake you up early with a hot cup of coca tea, to start one of the most beautiful days of the trek. You will enjoy the majestic views of some of the highest peaks in the Andes, and the depths of the beautiful valleys. You will have two mountain passes to make today.
After an early breakfast, we will start with a two to three hour, steep climb to Alpaca Pass at 5,100 m/ 16,732 ft elevation. Along the way, you will have gorgeous views of the blue lakes and the Ausangate Glacier Peak. You may even see avalanches happening from the glacial hills. Once you reach the summit of this mountain, you will be right in front of Ausangate, so you will be able to enjoy the Chillca Valley, and the many alpaca grazing along these hills. After taking some great pictures, you will continue for another two hours on a gradual, downhill trek, then we reach our lunch spot, located in Chillca Valley. Be aware that some sections of the trail can be a bit difficult to see. You will see views of the waterfalls, green hills and snow-capped peaks. After enjoying your lunch and a little nap, you will continue on to the second pass of the day, called Vicuña pass, at 5,300 m/17,388 ft elevation. It will be a slow-paced, hour and a half hike to reach the summit of this highest pass of the trek. Along the way, it may be possible to see some condors, and vicuñas. Once we are on top of the mountain we will enjoy a cup or two of traditional coca tea which will be provided by your porters. Then it will be another one hour, downhill hike until we arrive at our campsite at the banks of Lake Yanaccocha, where you will enjoy our daily happy hour of hot drinks. This campsite is located few hours away from our final destination, The Rainbow Mountains.
This is a perfect place to spot the famous Inca constellations and do some star-gazing.
Walked Distance: 15 km/9.3 m
Campsite Elevation: 4,400 m/ 14,435 ft
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinking water
Weather: Dry and cold
Day 4: Yanaccocha – Rainbow Mountain – Chillca Village – Cusco
After another early breakfast with your trekking team, you will will gradually trek uphill for an hour and a half until we reach the famous Rainbow Mountains and the Red Mountain Valley, located at 5,200 m /17,060 ft elevation. Your tour guide will walk you to to the perfect spots for postcard pictures. He will also explain why these mountains are different from any other mountains in the Vilcantoa Range. Part of the difference is due to a composition of various minerals, which make different colors of stone striations in the middle of the Red Mountains. This is one of the key tourist highlights in South America, and one of the most beautiful natural attractions in Peru.
After taking photos and enjoying the views, you will continue on the expedition to the end of the trail. This is all downhill, along the Chillca Valley. You will travel three hours until you stop to enjoy your final lunch with your team. We will then drive for hours back to Cusco and drop you off at your hotel. The drive provides nice views of the Andes and we will pass some traditional villages along the way. You will be arriving into Cusco around 6 p.m.
Walked Distance: 12 km /7.5 m
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinking water
Weather: Dry and cold
$585 per person
$25 off per person
Student discounts apply to anyone who has a valid Green ISIC card at the time of the trek or who is 16-years-old or younger. For those using an ISIC card to receive the discount, we need to see a copy of the card at booking. For those booking children 16-years-old or younger, we need a copy of their passport at booking time. Please send all to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Information about ISIC STUDENT CARD
Sleeping Bag (four season): $20 (Maximum size 1.95m / 6'4")
Pair of walking poles (Black Diamond): $15
Inflatable air mattress (Thermarest): $15
* Foam mats and small pillows are provided for everyone.
Professional Guides: All of our guides studied English and tourism at Cusco National University. They all grew up in this region and have a true passion to teach others about their heritage. They are fun yet professional, and will ensure you are safe and happy.
Briefing: The night before your trek, you will come to our office for your briefing. You will receive your duffel bag that will stay with your porters, while you hike. This bag should not exceed 7 kg/14 lbs and does need to include your sleeping bag and air mattress.
Porters & Horsemen: We include a personal porter, who is responsible for carrying your duffel bag containing your personal items. There is no additional fee for this. We will give you your duffel bag at your briefing the night before, to be filled with the things you will need for the next night and day. You will not have access to your duffel bag until your arrive at your evening campsite.
Emergency Horse: All of our alternative treks include an extra horse for our clients to use if they need a break from trekking.
Transportation: All your transportation is included in this trek. You will be picked up directly from your hotel around 4:30 a.m. and brought to the trailhead to begin your trek. Once you complete the trek, you will be brought back directly to your hotel in Cusco for drop off.
Equipment: Alpaca Expeditions has the best equipment. We use Eureka Timberline 4 person tents that are shared by only two people. You will have a spacious dining tent to enjoy your meals in.
Food: The Alpaca Expeditions chefs cook delicious meals that many previous trekkers have raved about. We honor all food restrictions. Be sure to remind your tour guide of any food restrictions at the beginning of your trek. Food is typically served family-style. You will enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of the trek, along with a happy hour of tea and snacks. You will also be provided a snack each morning, for you to enjoy along the hike. Your last meal with your chef will be after breakfast on day four. Lunch the last day is not included. You will enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of the trek along with a happy hour of some tea and snacks. You will also be provided a snack each morning for you to bring with you and enjoy along the hike. Lunch the last day is not included.
Water: Beginning from your first lunch until your last breakfast, Alpaca Expeditions will supply all the water needed. This water will be boiled, filtered and then cooled, before distributing. You must supply your own water bottles or camel back. We recommend carrying about 3L worth. We will refill our waters at each meal.
First Aid: Every Alpaca Expeditions guide has received training in first aid from a physician. We conduct mandatory training sessions every February, which every single Alpaca tour guide must attend. Your tour guide will always have a first-aid kit for basic medical problems (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts, scrapes, etc.) and oxygen. We will get you off the trail as quickly and comfortably as possible, if needed, and ensure you get directly to a clinic for treatment.
Extras: We believe it's the attention to small details that separates us from other tour companies. Every trekker receives a small pillow to sleep with, a foam mat for insulation, a day pack cover to protect their things while hiking and a rain poncho. We will work hard to create your best vacation.
Satellite Phones: Our top priority will always be the safety of our clients and our team. While we are prepared and all our guides are trained for most of the issues clients have on the mountain, being a phone call away from any doctor, hospital or friend helps everyone feel assured that they are safe. Radios, which all our guides have, are limited in how far they can reach, so Alpaca Expeditions has added Satellite Phones to every trek. Every guide will have a fully charged phone that can be used anywhere on the mountain to connect us anywhere in the world. And they can be used by our clients for non-emergencies as well. While they are not cheap to use, they are available just in case you need to check in on the puppy you left at home with grandma.
Rentals: Every trekker needs a sleeping bag, when camping. Inflatable air mattresses and walking sticks (with rubber tips) are optional, but encouraged. If you don’t want to bring any of the above, they are all available for rent:
Sleeping Bag: $20
Inflatable Air Mattress: $15
Walking Sticks (Pair): $15
Another highlight of booking with Alpaca Expeditions is getting top equipment and probably the best food you will eat while in Peru.
Every camping tour includes a spacious 4 man tent that will be shared by only two people so you can spread out a bit. These are all Eureka Timberline Tents made for all seasons. Our rentals are top of the line: Black Diamond Adjustable Walking Sticks and Thermarest Luxury Air Matts. Sleeping Bags rented from us are mummy style down bags for -15C and liners are always included.
For more information on our equipment, CLICK HERE.
Every trek includes a chef that has been trained in culinary school. They have learned the magic of mountain cooking and you will be amazed. You will enjoy full breakfast, lunch and dinner all served hot and tasty. We also include Happy Hour with snacks and some hot tea before dinner. The key to feeling good on a trek like this is eating well and staying hydrated.
Meals are all served family style - large plates for everyone to take what they like. And all food restrictions are honored. No matter if you are vegetarian or gluten free, you will always be well fed.
Water is provided by Alpaca Expeditions at every meal. We will boil, filter and cool down all water before distributing out to our clients to ensure that its healthy for drinking. Because of this process, you do need to provide your own water for the very first morning of your trek. We won't have a chance to get you clean water until lunch on Day 1.
You should always begin your hike with 2-3 liters of water - so make sure you have a large enough water bottle or camelback to store this.
For more information on our Food & Water, CLICK HERE.
Our Ausangate treks include a combination of porters and horsemen to help carry all the needed equipment and bags. We also include an extra emergency horse that can be used at any time if you need a break from hiking.
Our porters, who we lovingly call the Green Machine, are the pride and joy of our company and what separates us from others. We are dedicated to making a difference in their lives and their family's life and for that we are rewarded with the hardest working team in the mountains.
Alpaca Expeditions Porters:
Raul Ccolque Ccolque, the owner & general manager of Alpaca Expeditions, worked as porter from 2000 to 2003. While he saw some companies treating their porters better than others, he felt there was not enough being done for them and their families. We could not have a company without our porters and because of that we want them to be part of our family. We want to know them, listen to them and follow through on our promise to make their lives better.
Our porters range from 18 years old until 55 and come from several different villages in Cusco region. We employ approximately 250 porters from the following villages:
- Comunidad wakatinku 25 porters, located at 3800 meters
- Comunidad Llullucha 20 porters, located at 3700 meters
- Comunidad Choquekancha 25 porters , located at 3400 meters.
- Comunidad Pumapunko $ 25 porters located at 3700 meters
- Comunidad Kachin 25 porters located at 3700 meters
- Comunidad Anparaes 25 porters located at 3500 meters
Quechua is their main language and farming is their main economic activity. Being a porter is a second income for them.
Our Promise to Our Porters:
We understand clearly that we could not be successful without our team of porters. They have promised us that they will work endlessly to make each trekker have a magical journey, so we have made an equally important promise to them to do what we can to make this difficult job a little less daunting.
As we explained earlier, most of our porters live in a village outside of Cusco – typically 2 to 4 hours away. We cover all entrance fees (45 soles – $15 US per porter) and transportation to and from the trek for our porters, separate from their salary. They are paid directly after the trek preventing them from traveling back to Cusco before heading home. This is unfortunately not common. They receive better wages, health insurance and all their equipment for free. This includes hiking boots, pants, jerseys, fleeces, jackets, hats, flashlights, sleeping bags, sleeping bags, and amazing food to eat. We make sure they have a comfortable bed in a lovely room to sleep before (and after if needed) the trek instead of crashing on a floor like others. We visit the communities they live in and supply toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and other needed supplies to their families. Books for their students.
This is just the beginning for us and we are always looking for ways to do more.
How much does the Alpaca Expeditions Porter Carry?
While the government allows each porter to carry up to 25kg, we keep our limit at 20kg. Each porter will carry up to 15kg from the company and 5kg of their own personal stuff. This is why its so important to keep your personal duffel down in weight and not exceed our allowed 7kg. You will see other companies carrying clearly more than the allotted weight – we will not allow our porters to carry this burden.
Keeping them Comfortable…
Every year Alpaca Expeditions provides a new sleeping bag and sleeping pad for each porter. Our jackets are all lined and warm and our boots that are provided are all waterproof.
What do the Porters Eat?
Our porters will eat the very same amazing meals you have. Our chef buys enough food to cook for all our trekkers and porters and makes enough for everyone to be too full at the end of the day. While you will notice that we always serve huge portions, none of this is wasted. Whatever is leftover after you and our team eats will go directly back home to the families of the team for them to enjoy themselves.
Helping Their Families…
All our porters are quechua language speakers who come from farming villages where they take only advantage of the seasons to grow their crops but Alpaca Expeditions will help them in many ways to keep growing their comunity especially in education, health and culture. We have different ongoing projects and hope to add many more. Some of the projects we have completed or continue doing are:
Every 3 months, we take a kit of toiletries to Wakantinku elementary school for 204 quechua speaking children. They range from 3 – 12 years old from kindergarden to 6th grade. When we arrived to this village for the first time a few years ago, kids had trouble keeping up with daily hygiene. We make sure they always have toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, and hand sanitizer.
We planted more than 3,000 native trees, Queuña (andean polylepis), in the community of Wakatinku to reforest their village. This tree will be more sustainable than others they have used and will eventually be a fertilizer for their village to help grow more grass for their Alpacas which are the most common and typical annimals located at this village.
We covered the 2015 salary of a full time teacher in the High School of Wakatinku to teach math, art and english. This teacher has done amazing work and helped to graduate the first class from the village. We plan to continue this sponsorship and supply another years salary.
Every February we invite our porters and their families to come with us to visit Machu Picchu. Sadly, this was their first time to the ruins and a really special experience for us. Last year we went with families from Wakawasi village, a community we visit on the Lares Trek. We plan on doing this trip every February with new families to help them enjoy their own history.
In October 2015, we helped celebrate the end of the school year with 17 students and their parents and some of our porters for a trip through the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. This 2 day trip followed the same itinerary that our clients enjoy.
Often our clients have asked how they can help. Some Alpaca Expeditions trekkers raised money back at home to buy some computers to donate to a local village. We matched their donation and went together to donate 4 computers to the school in Wakatinku village for the kids to enjoy. This was their first experience on computers and something that has been really successful. Of course its hard for 204 students to share 4 computers, so we hope to bring some more in 2016.
To help celebrate the anniversary of Llulucha village this last July, we booked and provided transpiration for an amazing local band, Alicia de Acomayo, to play. It was a great party for everyone to enjoy.
We are working with a local clinic in Cusco to provide dental care and provide skin examinations for the children of each of our porters villages.
We have recently bought land in Cusco that is currently being constructed to create a dormitories, classrooms and teaching kitchens for our team. This is for those who do not live in Cusco to have a nice, warm place to sleep before their treks. We will have english classes, computer classes and cooking classes here for any member of our team and their family to use, free of charge. This is a huge project for us that we are really excited about.
This is a touch of the projects we have done and continue to do. We are a small local company here in Cusco who promises to be as dedicated to our team as they are to us. We are lucky enough to have the best porters in the region and we feel responsible to make sure they are healthy, strong and capable of providing their families with the best life possible.
THE GREEN MACHINE
Getting to Cusco
The airport in Cusco currently is only for domestic flights, so all international travelers by plane must disembark in Lima and go through Customs. Even if your flight to Cusco is the same day by the same airline carrier, you must grab your bags in Lima and then check them back in.
The best way to get to Cusco is by air and there are several options in airlines. LAN tends to be the most expensive, but has the most options and flights. Expect delays or flight cancellations. Due to the high altitude of Cusco, it tends to be difficult to land and any acclimate weather will stop air traffic. Bus travel is always available and while the trip can be long, especially from Lima, the buses in Peru are very well maintained and comfortable. This option is strongly encouraged if coming from a city closer to Cusco, like Puno. Lima buses will take about 20 hours to arrive.
Any extra luggage you have with you can be left safely in Cusco at either your hotel or with us at the Alpaca Expeditions deposit while you trek. We will grab from you the morning of your trek and return once you are back in Cusco. Make sure your bags have some kind of identification on them so they are easy to locate.
As soon as people book their trip to Peru, specifically Cusco, they start wondering about altitude sickness. The air at high altitudes contains less oxygen than at sea level and forces your body to work harder to get the oxygen it needs. Over several days at high altitude, your body adjusts to the lower amount of oxygen in the air. This is why we always recommend spending at least two days in Cusco before beginning any trek. If you have more time, even better. Cusco is an amazing city with a lot to do, so you won’t be bored.
With altitude sickness, you may first feel like you have the flu or a hangover. You may have a headache, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, trouble sleeping, trouble breathing during exercise. If any of these effects become severe, please contact our office and we will help you get to a doctor.
Most of the time, these symptoms will be mild. We always recommend easing into activity slowly, allowing your body to adjust. Drink plenty of fluids such as water or coca tea. Coca tea has been used since ancient times to help prevent altitude sickness. Leaves from the Coca Plant contain alkaloids which helps bring oxygen into your blood, helping your body avoid the effects of altitude sickness. Avoid drinking a lot of alcohol and coffee. They will cause you to urinate more often and become dehydrated. Avoid smoking. Smoking makes it more difficult for your body to get oxygen. Avoid sleeping pills. They may cause shallow breathing at night, making it more difficult for your body to absorb oxygen while you sleep.
Remember the trek to Machu Picchu is not a race. Even those in the best shape will suffer from altitude sickness when they race to the top of the mountain too quickly. Go slowly, it will give your body time to adjust to the mountain.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicines, such as acetazolamide and dexamethasone, to help prevent altitude sickness. Start the medicine two days before you get to a high altitude. Continue to take it while you are at high altitude.
You must remember that this is your holiday and you do not want to stress out about the possibility of getting sick from the mountains. Do everything slowly. Drink lots of water. And enjoy the coca tea. If anything does happen and you unfortunately get sick, let your guide know right away – all Alpaca Expeditions guides are trained in how to help you get through it.
Of course weather is unpredictable. Typically the dry season in Cusco is from April through October, but this does not stop rain from falling in June or the sun from coming out in December – just be prepared. No matter what month you are doing the trek, please make sure that you have rain gear that includes a waterproof jacket, pants, poncho and waterproof gloves. Many people forget about gloves, but being cold and wet makes hiking very unpleasant.
Also prepare for four seasons. Many of the treks through the Andes involve many micro-climates and you will need to be prepared for all seasons. Layers are always key as they are easy to adjust to the different temperatures. And evenings will always be cold, so please be prepared with a warm winter-weight jacket.
Every Alpaca Expeditions guide has received training in first aid from a physician. We conduct mandatory training every February – every single Alpaca guide attends. When guiding you, they will have with them a first aid kit for basic medical problems (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts/scrapes, etc.) and oxygen. They know how to make you feel better.
In case something unexpected happens and you feel you can no longer complete the trek, they will figure out the safest and quickest way off the course and to a clinic. You will never be left alone, you will have a member of the team escort you every step of the way until safely with a doctor. When you are feeling up to it, we will make sure that you still have the chance to visit Machu Picchu and re-connect with your group, traveling by train comfortably.
To protect your travel investment, we highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance. Obtaining travel insurance before you leave home is strongly encouraged and very easy. In fact, we work with a great agency in the United States that has helped to make it easy and affordable. This is a great way to protect yourself while visiting Peru.
If interested in booking through our trusted partner, Ahart, Frinzi & Smith, CLICK HERE.
Alpaca Expeditions uses biodegradable soap and transports all our garbage back to Cusco. Our porters are trained to look after the trail and pick up any waste from other groups, as well. We also use environmentally-friendly chemical portable toilets that allow us to pack waste out. We believe in leaving no footprint behind.
Alpaca Expeditions is really proud of the work we do for our community. This is a main focus for our company. We have worked with villages directly to help supply them with needs their families were missing. We have supported local schools by giving them computers and books. We currently sponsor a teacher at the village most of our porters come from to ensure their children are offered the best education.
We buy all our food from local farmers and markets and serve the freshest ingredients. We provide English classes for all our team: guides, porters, chefs and drivers. And we are building a house for our porters to give them a safe and comfortable place to stay before and after our treks so they no longer need to sleep on the floor of a friend.
And twice every year we bring our porters and their families to Machu Picchu. This is our favorite trip to do as the guys who work tirelessly have never visited the Lost Citadel of the Incas. Showing them this place is our biggest honor.
We are always looking to do more for our partners. Please let us know of your ideas and we will work to help.
Personal Porter Included
All of our treks include porters, who are responsible for carrying and setting up all equipment. They will also carry your personal duffel, which you will receive at your briefing the night before your trek. This duffel can not exceed 7 kg/14 lbs, and must include your sleeping bag and an air mattress.
Each Alpaca Expeditions porter is given a proper uniform, salary and insurance. They are the backbone of our company.
- Day pack
- Copy of your passport
- Good hiking gear: hiking boots, warm jackets, gloves, hat warm fleece and socks
- Sleeping bag
- Walking boots
- Waterproof jacket/rain poncho
- Hat and gloves
- Warm clothes: Layers for variable temperatures, especially at night
- Comfortable trousers
- Sun hat
- Insect repellent
- Reusable plastic/metal water container, or camel bags
- Water for first four hours of trek, then we will provide you with drinking, previously boiled water
- Personal medication
- Camera and films
- Flashlight with spare batteries
- Walking stick
- Bathing suit for the hot springs
- Extra money for souvenirs, drinks and tips
The Journey is the Destination
ALPACA EXPEDITIONS E.I.R.L. - Copyright © 20012 - 2016, All Rights Reserved