Itinerary – Ausangate, Rainbow Mountain & Machu Picchu Trek

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”


Machu Picchu (twice!)     Rainbow Mountain     Inca Trail      Ausangate Mountain     Red Valley 

The Ausangate (Ow-Sun-GAH-tay), Rainbow Mountain, & Machu Picchu Trek, without a doubt, gives you the most bang for your buck when it comes to any hiking trip in the Cusco region.  This is an amazing option for anyone who wants to see it all – from a challenging, high-altitude hike that includes incredible scenery over three mountain passes to the cloudy forest and ruins on the famous Inca Trail.  Along the way, you’ll also get the bonus of seeing unique wildlife, getting close to the glacier of Ausangate – the 2nd highest mountain in Peru – and finally hiking into the jewel of Peru – Machu Picchu city.

This trek will take you back in time to a place where the locals still wear traditional ponchos and hats and reward you with quiet, uncrowded trails, spectacular glacial lakes, stunning snow-capped peaks, and the unusual streaked landscapes of the Rainbow Mountains of Vinicunka.

*This is a full-service trek.  A duffel bag will be provided prior to hiking for your personal items and our staff will transport the bag and all other equipment (tents, food, cooking supplies) from campsite to campsite.  All you will need to carry is your day pack.*

  • This morning, we’ll pick you up from your hotel in Cusco early.  You’ll want to have breakfast at the hotel or grab some snacks to go because we have a gorgeous 3 hour car ride to the trail head in the Pachanta community (3830m/12,730ft). 
  • When we get to Pachanta, you’ll meet the rest of the staff, hand over your pre-packed duffel bag, strap on your day pack, and hit the trail.
  • The first 3 hours are fairly easy – we’ll have a mostly level path with a slight incline on a well-maintained dirt road.  You’ll barely notice the elevation gain because you will be distracted by the llamas, alpacas, 7 lakes and unique stone farmhouses we’ll pass all along the way.  If you bring some coca leaves with you, feel free to share them with the locals and have a chat (translated by your guide or in Spanish if you know it!). 
  • Around noon, we’ll have our first meal of the trek – a delicious lunch cooked by our chef.  Just wait – the things our chefs can do with a single camping stove and some propane – you’ll be in heaven.  Prepare your stomach to be satisfied for the next few days!
  • With full bellies, we’ll keep going on the same steady, gradual incline for a few more hours until we reach the first campsite at Upis (4400m/14,430ft).  Finally you can relax, take off your hiking boots, and enjoy Andean Happy Hour (tea and snacks) while the chef prepares another amazing meal.

Bonus Tip: If you’re interested and you pack a swimsuit, there is an opportunity here to take a dip in some natural hot springs!  Or if you don’t want to swim, there will be plenty of free time to just relax or take photos of the incredible Ausangate Mountain.

  • Walking Distance: 14km/8.6 miles (6 Hours)
  • Elevation: 3830m/12,730ft to 4400m/14,430ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Weather: Cool during the day; cold at night
  • Includes: Lunch & Dinner
  • This morning (and every morning!) our staff will wake you up early with warm water and coca tea to energize you for the day.
  • When you’re ready and your duffel bags have been repacked, our staff will start taking down the tents while you enjoy breakfast with a stunning view of the morning light on Ausangate Mountain. 
  • Today’s hike is a more challenging because the trail gets a little steeper.  We’ll hike uphill for three hours until we reach the Arapa Pass (4850m/15908 ft).  We’ll take a moment here to celebrate our accomplishment with some photos, high fives, and a little break at this first summit. 
  • When we’re ready to press on, we’ll get some sweet relief on our legs and lungs as we start a 2.5 hour descent to the 2nd campsite at Puka Qocha (4500m/14760ft) where happy hour and dinner will be waiting for us.

Bonus Tip: Today, the hike is a little more challenging because of the elevation changes, but it’s also a much shorter day so you can really take your time getting to the Pass.  It’s so worth the effort when you stop and see the views.  In addition to the Ausangate landscape, you’ll pass many wild and domesticated animals and local people living miles apart from each other with no electricity.  It will be like traveling back in time.

  • Walking Distance: 12km/7.5miles (6-7 hours)
  • Elevation: 4400m/14,430ft to 4500/14,760 ft
  • Difficulty: Challenging (high altitude)
  • Weather: Cold/windy; cold at night
  • Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
  • Once you’re up and through our breakfast routine, we’ll start the day’s hike to get around the Ausungate Glacier. Today will be our longest of the trek, but we’ll earn some bragging rights by the end of the day because the Ausangate Mountain is the second highest mountain in Peru (only second to Huascaran!).  
  • It’s going to be a little tough as we climb uphill again for 2 hours to the Puka Pass (16,370ft), but mother nature will not disappoint.  Turquoise glacial lakes, llamas, alpacas, and the snow-capped peak of Ausangate will fuel you with every new view.  We’re well beyond the halfway point of our trek at this point – you’ve got this!
  • And just when you think you can’t climb anymore and the views can’t get any better, it will be time to start descending and mother nature will bless us again with our first look at the stunning rainbow mountains in the distance.  We’ll have 2 hours downhill to take in the sights before we reach the lunch spot to fill up.
  • With full stomachs, we’ll begin another pretty steep uphill climb for 1.5 hours to the 3rd and final pass – Warmisaya (14,370ft).  We’ll spend a little time at this pass reflecting on our accomplishments and enjoying the view before continuing on a more level path for 30 more minutes to our campsite at Yana Qocha (4600m/15,170ft). 

Bonus Tip: If the weather is good and we want to see the sunset at Rainbow Mountain, we can take an additional 1.5 hour round trip hike to the scenic overlook before dinner.

  • Walking Distance: 16km/11miles (7-8 hours)
  • Elevation: 4500m/14,760ft to 4600/15,170ft
  • Difficulty: Challenging (high altitude)
  • Weather: Cold/Windy
  • Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
  • Today is your choice – you can have a regular breakfast with our chef or we can pack some food to leave early for our 45 minute hike to catch the sunrise over Rainbow Mountain.  We definitely recommend trying to catch the sunrise!
  • No matter what time we start, we’ll eventually arrive at Rainbow Mountain – one of the most stunning sites in the Cusco Region.
  • We’ll spend as much time here as you want – taking in the view, snapping selfies and postcard photos – let’s enjoy the scenery without crowds for most of the morning.
  • When you’re ready, we’ll start the bonus section of this combination trek with our steep descent for 2 hours through the Red Valley.  Most visitors don’t even know this path exists and miss out on this full experience – but you’re one of the lucky ones who made the right choice.  You’ll have this stunning valley to yourself as it wows you around every corner until we get to our lunch spot at Vinicunka.
  • After lunch, we’ll say goodbye to our chef and porters (and offer some gratuity if you feel it’s appropriate) before we jump in the van for a scenic, 3.5 hour ride to the town of Ollantaytambo.  
  • Tonight, you will stay in a hotel with a hot shower and comfy bed – a well-earned treat after all your hard work!
  • Walking Distance: 6km/3.7miles (3-4 hours)
  • Elevation: 4600m/15,170ft to 5000m/16,404ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging (high altitude)
  • Weather: Cool/windy during the day; Warm evening
  • Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (at a restaurant)
  • We’ll grab breakfast in your hotel before heading down to the Ollantaytambo train station around 7:30am.  We’ll take this picturesque train ride along the river for just over an hour to our stop on the famous Inca Trail – KM104.  Your duffel bags will continue on with our staff and you will just get off the train with your day pack.
  • From the checkpoint, we’ll visit the first Inca site called Chachabamba before beginning the most challenging part of our trek.
  • Today, you’ll start with a 2-hour steady incline through thick vegetation until you reach the infamous Inca Steps.  You’ll spend the next 2 hours climbing and descending through a series of stairs until you finally reach the Inca site of Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young).  Don’t be afraid! It’s not all bad!  While you’re completing this stone step maze, you’ll see huge waterfalls, rivers, beautiful flowers, and all the unique animals and Inca sites you can only find in the Peruvian Cloudy Forest.  It’s going to be a tough challenge, but we know you can do it, we’ll support you every step of the way, and you will love it in the end!
  • Once we get to Wiñay Wayna, we’ll take a well-deserved rest and enjoy our boxed lunch. 
  • We still have 2 more hours today, but it’s smooth sailing with a level, easy path to Inti Punku (the Sun Gate) – the Inca Trail entrance to Machu Picchu.
  • We’ll spend a little time resting and taking photos at the Sun Gate before descending into Machu Picchu and doing a quick walk through.  Unlike most other tourists, you have the unique opportunity with this hike to come back to Machu Picchu and explore tomorrow, so for now, we’ll take the shuttle down to Aguas Calientes where you’ll have a comfy bed, hot shower, and a last dinner together with us.   

Bonus Tip:  The weather today is going to be totally different than the weather you’ve been experiencing the last few days.  You’ll be in the rainforest at this point to it will be hot and muggy, but we still recommend you wear pants and long sleeves if possible, to prevent against bug bites and the strong sun.

  • Walking distance: 14KM/8.7miles (6.5 hours)
  • Elevation: 2100m/6,889ft to 2700m/8,858ft
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Weather: Hot with a good chance of a little rain.  Watch out for mosquitos.
  • Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Today is the easiest day and the cherry on top of the cake!  We will check out of the hotel, leave all our bags in storage, and head to the bus station according to the designated time on our tickets.  The bus will take about 30 minutes to get to the entrance to Machu Picchu.   
  • Once we get into the city, your guide will start a 2-hour guided tour where you will learn about all the major highlights of this mysterious place and have the opportunity to take as many pictures as you like.
  • Following the tour, if you purchased a ticket in advance to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, you will complete those hikes at this time (tickets to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain are not included and must be purchased separately).  After your hike, you will meet your guide back at your hotel in Aguas Calientes.
  • If you didn’t purchase a ticket to climb Huayna Picchu, your guide will take you back out to the buses for your ride down to Aguas Calientes.   Depending on the time, you can grab lunch or snacks on your own before we pick up your duffel bags from the hotel and take you to the train station.  We’ll ride the train for 1.5 hours to Ollantaytambo where our van will be waiting to take us all back to your hotel in Cusco.   Unless you booked any other tours with us, your guide will say “Hasta Luego!” at this time and hope you will keep in touch.  If you feel the guide has earned some gratuity, now would be an appropriate time to share it.
  • Walking distance: varied! The walking tour takes 2 hours, but you may walk more if you added on one of the additional, optional climbs.
  • Elevation: 2400m/7874ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate. Machu Picchu city is large and requires many trips up and down stairs to see it all.
  • Weather: Hot and humid (bring water and rain gear)
  • Includes: Breakfast
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Mat
  • Private transportation
  • Private, English speaking guide
  • All entrance fees
  • All meals from Breakfast Day 1 to Lunch Day 6 (dietary preferences honored with proper notice)
  • Basic First Aid equipment
  • Porters to carry personal items
  • Duffel bag for personal items
  • Purified drinking water
Not Included
  • Alcoholic beverages of any kind
  • Travel insurance
  • Breakfast Day 1
  • Lunch and Dinner Day 6
  • Tax
  • Tips 
  • Optional Sleeping Bag Rental (+$30)
  • Optional Walking Stick Rental (+$12)
  • Optional Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain Climb (+$65)

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