The Rainbow Mountains of Ausangate - Premium

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13 days
from
£3,249
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Trip code: 
TPO
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Premium
Activity:
Point-to-point Trips
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Southern Peru’s Cordillera Vilcanota is not only home to some of the most varied and magnificent landscapes in the Andes but also to the Sacred Mountain of Ausangate (6372m), revered by many as the mountain spirit on which life depends. Staying in the comfort of mountain eco-lodges, this spectacular trek reaches isolated shepherding communities, high altitude lakes and peaceful meadows where wild alpacas graze. High passes lead the way to the foot of Ausangate's glacier, a sight to behold. There’s time still to discover the Inca fortresses of the Sacred Valley and to visit the majestic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

Highlights

  • Trek amidst the 'Rainbow Mountains' and to Ausangate's glacier
  • Sleep in comfortable mountain eco-lodges amidst Peru's Vilcanota Range
  • Meet the isolated communities and shepherds 
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley
  • Four ruins day walk including Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay

Key information

  • 6 nights premium hotels and 4 nights comfortable mountain eco-lodges, all en suite
  • 5 days point-to-point walking with full porterage, plus 1 day walk
  • Altitude maximum 5150m, average 4600m
  • Travel is by private bus and by train
  • Between 4 and 7 hours walking per day 

What's included

  • All accommodation
  • All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners included
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival and departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations

5

Pace:

Between 4 and 7 hours walking per day, with the exception of the first day which is a short day.

Terrain:

High altitude throughout trek. High mountain passes, isolated shepherds trails, some uneven terrain underfoot. Snow may be encountered. 

Day by day breakdown
Day 37.0km/4.0miles
Day 53.0km/1.0miles
Day 615.0km/9.0miles
Day 712.0km/7.0miles
Day 812.0km/7.0miles
Day 911.0km/6.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    The group flights depart London this evening.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Cuzco (3400m); free time to acclimatise.

    Set amidst hills in the Andes, the Imperial City of the Incas, Cuzco (3,400) was the geographic, cultural and political centre of a vast empire which, at its peak, stretched from present day Quito in Ecuador to Santiago in Chile. After the Spanish conquistadores invaded the city they started building on top of the Incan structures, resulting in unique architecture, a fusion of the Incan and Spanish colonial styles.

    The group flights usually arrive in the mid-afternoon, giving time to wander the cobbled streets admiring the old houses, visiting its interesting museums, churches and pre-Columbian buildings, or to sit in a café and sample a coca-tea.

    It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (3,400m).

    There will be a welcome briefing in the hotel lobby this evening.

    Hotel San Agustin Plaza / Eco Inn (or similar)

  • Day 3

    Four ruins acclimatisation walk, including Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay.

    The hills above Cuzco city are dotted with some of the most interesting Inca ruins. We drive to the highest, Tambomachay, and return on foot to Cuzco via Puca Pucara, Qenco and Sacsayhuaman: an easy acclimatisation walk to get used to the altitude. An open-air picnic lunch is included during the hike near the spectacular ruins. The day walk is about 7km in total.

    A packed box lunch is included today.

    Hotel San Agustin Plaza / Eco Inn (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Free day in Cuzco.

    Free day in Cuzco to relax and further acclimatise before starting the trek. A range of optional activities and sightseeing excursions can be arranged, including visits to Inca and pre-Inca sites south of Cuzco, or walks in the hills surrounding the city but we recommend taking it relatively easy in order to adjust to the altitude in preparation for the start of the trek tomorrow. Please see the Optional Activities section in the Trip Notes for further details and prices.

    Hotel San Agustin Plaza / Eco Inn (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Drive to trailhead at Chillca; short walk to first lodge (4368m); traditional music performance.

    We drive for approx. 4 hrs by coach beside the Vilcanota River, stopping en route to visit the temple of Checacupe, then the upper valley of Pitumarca. When we reach Japura, we leave the transport behind and trek a short distance to Chillca – our first tambo (mountain lodge). We will be greeted by people from the local communities, usually playing Andean instruments, and there’s the chance to try some coca tea.

    Comfortable Eco Lodge (Tambo)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Trek past glaciated mountains, waterfalls and llama territory to Machuracay (4814m), at the foot of sacred Mt. Ausangate.

    After breakfast we trek alongside huge herds of alpacas and llamas in the glacial valley of Phinaya. We will ascend past the Pjachaj waterfalls and come to more glaciers at Santa Catalina. We continue walking for roughly five hours amidst huge walls of glacial moraine, and passing glaciers and glacial lagoons to reach Machuracay Tambo. Our bags, carried by a llama caravan, meet us there and the family that runs the lodge will welcome us.

    Comfortable Eco Lodge (Tambo)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Over the Palomani Pass (5150m) to Anantapata (4750m) via the 'Nevado del Inca' sandstone formations.

    Today we take in our first mountain pass (5,150m) from the top of which we are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Descending alongside the glaciers, we trek to the Ausangate Cocha Lake for lunch. After lunch we see a stark contrast in the landscape as we enter a region of red sandstone sediment formations. Here, we will usually see vicuñas (a smaller relative of the llama) and sometimes condors can be seen soaring overhead. We stay at Anantapata Tambo tonight.

    Comfortable Eco Lodge (Tambo)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Follow an isolated trail through multi-coloured mountains to Huampococha (4800m).

    After breakfast, we set off along a trail towards another mountain pass. Dropping down, we walk past Lake Kayrawiri, surrounded by rugged mountain peaks and the great valley below. Striations of colour are imbedded in the hillsides (a geologists dream). Then we go on to Cerro Laya Grande via the extensive Glacier del Inca, and the most striking colours in the sediments of Yauricunca. We take lunch here amidst this unique landscape. On our way to our last lodge, we should see Andean geese nesting in the cliffs of Anta. Just before reaching Huampococha Tambo we pass the flat iron formations of Apu Labrayani.

    Comfortable Eco Lodge (Tambo)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Cross the Anta Pass and descend to the valley where the trek ends; transfer to Cuzco.

    We wake to fantastic mountain views and set off on our final walk. A steady climb brings us over our final pass, the Anta Pass. We descend from the pass and encounter some peculiar looking shapes of limestone - formations of Cretaceous age. We hike here until the end of the trail in Trapiche, where we have lunch before returning by bus to Cuzco.

    Hotel San Agustin Plaza / Eco Inn (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Visit Pisac market and the fortress of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley; continue by train to Aguas Calientes.

    Today we visit the magnificent Sacred Valley of the Incas, including the incredible ruins at Pisac and the fortress of Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo we take the train to Aguas Calilentes (the town below Machu Picchu).

    The Sacred Valley, which runs along the Urubamba River near Cuzco, is the true heartland of Incan culture and tradition, which is still strong today. The high-Andean scenery is dotted with old towns and villages dating back to pre-Columbian times. The ruins of the Citadel at Pisac guarded a road from the lowlands and gives way to a picturesque landscape of terraces carved into the solid rock itself. Whilst the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo give you a sense of the scale of what is to come as huge stone terraces scale the valley sides. This was the royal estate of Inca Emperor Pachacuti as well as being of religious and defensive significance.

    Hotel Casa Andina (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Guided tour of Machu Picchu; return to Cuzco by train and by road.

    One of the highlights of the trip is the visit to the greatest ruin in the world, the lost city of Machu Picchu. This is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world, in a mountain setting of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records about it, so Machu Picchu remains a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.

    We wake early to make the short bus journey up the winding road to the ruins (aprox 30 mins). Your leader will give you a two/three hour guided tour of the ruins and afterwards there will be free time to explore at your leisure. There are some spectacular walks around the site that you may wish to do, including following the path to the Inca Drawbridge or even up to the Sun Gate for that iconic view of the ruins.

    In the afternoon we take the train back to Ollantaytambo, from where we continue the remainder of the way to Cuzco by road.

    Hotel San Agustin Plaza / Eco Inn (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Depart Cuzco.

    The group flights depart Cuzco this morning.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Arrive London.

    The group flights arrive into London this afternoon.

Extend Your Trip

Amazon Rainforest extension (from Cuzco)

Code: XPC

Easily accessible via a short flight to Puerto Maldonado from Cuzco, the Amazon is the world's largest rainforest and home to an astonishing array of wildlife, as well as countless plant species. Spending three nights at a lodge in the incredibly rich Tambopata Reserve, we use motorised canoes to explore its lakes and rivers, and follow jungle trails to discover its dense forests.The detailed itinerary can be found here.

Please ask your sales consultant for more details.

Lake Titicaca extension

Code: XPT

Journey across the spectacular high altiplano to Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable fresh water lake (3,800m). Explore its waters by boat and visit the descendants of the Uros Indians who live on floating reed islands, and are also known for producing fine textiles. Back on the mainland we visit the pre‐ Incan site of Sillustani, comprised of burial towers with fantastic views over the region. The Titicaca Extension is only available after your main tour as we do not recommend arriving straight into Puno due to the altitude. 

Essential Info

Visas

Peru

Visas are not required by UK citizens, Western European nationals, Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and most other nationalities. If you are in any doubt please contact the nearest Peruvian Embassy.

Vaccinations

Peru

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in Peru. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

If you are travelling to the Tambopata reserve in the Amazon rainforest, the risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. We also strongly recommend that you obtain a Yellow Fever vaccination. Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in the Amazon region. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites: always apply insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers while in the rainforest to avoid being bitten.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up‐to‐date information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners are included in the price of the tour. Some snacks are included (in addition to main meals) during the trek but you may wish to bring some of your own to supplement them. 

Peruvian cuisine has developed a reputation for its flavours and originality and it’s well worth trying out a few of the local delicacies. Amongst these are ceviche (a spicy dish of seafood or fish marinated in lime juice), lomo saltado (a Peruvian take on a beef stir-fry) and various hearty soups such as the delicious quinoa soup. Other dishes include roasted cuy (guinea pig), alpaca steak, and to drink, the national beverage: Pisco Sour.

Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffet-style affairs, usually including bread/toast and jam, cereal, sometimes eggs or a cooked dishes, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. Regrettably we can not guarantee that wheat/gluten free products will be available for breakfast in all locations - if you have an intolerance you may wish to bring your own breakfast food.

Where lunch and dinner is not included in Cuzco/Ollantaytambo/Aguas Calientes we'll visit a variety of cafes and restaurants.

All meals are included whilst on trek - traditional dishes will be prepared by the native chefs who are from one of the nearby communities.

Weather

Peru's diverse geography results in a very varied climate. The coastal desert including Lima, is generally dry but cloudy through most of the year. The exception is January to March when the skies are clear and the temperatures rise.

In Cuzco and the Andes, April to November is the dry season; during these months the sky is generally bright and clear with strong sunshine in the mornings, sometimes clouding over as the day progresses. In the Andes, however, anything is possible at any time of year, including cloud rolling up from the Amazon basin, rain or even snow, and rapid and unexpected changes! During the dry season temperatures at night can dip to around the freezing mark (and sometimes below!).

Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu are in the Cloud Forest and as such attract large amounts of precipitation all year as clouds move up from the Amazon basin. Rain here can be heavy, but is seldom prolonged.

Cuzco, Peru

Cuzco, Peru

Is this trip for you?

This is a challenging grade trek (level 5) with 5 days point-to-point walking and full porterage throughout, plus 1 day walk for acclimatisation. There are between 4 and 7 hours walking per day, except for the first day of the trek, which is shorter. We cross three high mountain passes, there are some steep climbs and descents and you may encounter some uneven terrain underfoot.

The walking is made more strenuous due to the altitude. The maximum altitude reached is 5,150m and the average is 4,600m. Temperatures at these altitudes can fall below zero at night. As this trip spends considerable time at altitude we ask you to refer to the altitude warning within the Trip Notes. We include three days in and around Cuzco before starting the trek to allow for time to acclimatise and on one of these days there is an acclimatisation walk which will also help to facilitate acclimatisation.

This trek should be possible for anyone in a good state of health and fitness. We would not recommend it as a beginner's trek to anyone who is totally unused to walking - you should have done some previous treks. Having some previous experience of trekking at altitude would be beneficial but is not essential as long as you are aware of the effects that it can have and follow the advice of your leader. If you are not a regular walker you should put in some physical preparation beforehand.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: https://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Walking distances and hours stated within the itinerary are given as approximates only. Timings stated include lunch and photo stops and will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Accommodation

Premium Hotels & Lodges

We spend 6 nights in premium standard hotels and whilst on trek we spend 4 nights in comfortable mountain eco-lodges or 'tambos'. The hotels normally used are indicated within the itinerary however accommodation may differ from those stated depending on your departure date.

There are very few lodge treks available in Peru, but those that are available are of a comparably high standard. The lodges used on this trek are the most luxurious in the region. Each tambo offers exceptional views of Mt. Ausangate (Sacred Mountain). The twin-bedded rooms all have en suite bathrooms and hot water (single rooms are very limited). Feather bedspreads are provided and although there is no mains electricity, candles or solar lanterns are supplied. Each lodge has a dining room, where evening meals will be taken. The lodges have developed a cultural interchange with the native Andean communities, and it is their warm welcome that makes this trek a truly unique experience. Many of the staff who work at the tambos are from the local mountain communities. Due to the altitude it can get quite cold in the lodges at night.

All of our hotels in Cuzco and Aguas Calientes are small and locally-owned with en suite bathrooms and breakfast facilities. In Cuzco all are located within walking distance of the central Plaza de Armas. Most hotels have a safety deposit box in the room but if not, there will be one at reception.

Please note that central heating is very rare in Peru, even in good standard hotels. Most hotels provide plug in heaters and spare blankets. Additionally whilst all of the hotels have a hot water supply, it can be temperamental when there is high demand.

A railway line runs straight through the centre of Aguas Calientes and whilst we try to allocate rooms away from it whenever possible, the trains might be heard from some rooms.

Single rooms on this holiday are very limited but are available upon request on a first come first served basis for a supplement from £550.

Expert Blog Entries

As another year flies past, it’s time for us to ask ourselves one simple question: where next?

Be the first to post your review! If you have recently returned from an Exodus adventure and want to help other travellers with your feedback then simply use the link below to post your holiday review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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