Share the trail with Quechua-speaking llama herders beneath some of Peru’s tallest snowpeaks. Massive Nevado Ausangate (6,374 m/ 20,900′) is the sacred summit at the heart of the spectacular Vilcanota Range – a pristine region of towering peaks, icefields, and sparkling lakes. In the Andean tradition, llamas carry our camp gear on this exhilarating 30-mile/ 48-km. trek, while you hike carrying only a day-pack. This is a custom program, with a 2 person minimum, May through October.
The Vilcanota remains true to cultural traditions stretching back into history. The age-old methods of alpaca herding which sustains the population are everywhere in evidence. Tightly-knit Quechua communities maintain extensive, complex irrigation systems delivering glacial meltwater to the valley bottoms for the year-round moisture required to sustain the alpacas’ favorite forage crops. At higher elevations, you may glimpse the rare vicuña (cousin of the llama and alpaca), pairs of Andean geese, flamingos, and soaring condors.
Day 1 To Trailhead
From Cuzco we travel east, over a high pass to the traditional highland town of Ocongate. Just beyond is Tinqui, the trailhead for the Vilcanota Range. We camp by the Mapoche River at 3,800 m/ 12,464′. BLD
Day 2 Pacchanta
With the camp gear and personal equipment carried by llamas, we climb gradually through rolling hills dotted with herds of llamas and alpacas. The snows of 6,374 m/20,906′ Nevado Ausangate dominate the skyline directly ahead of us. We eat lunch near Upis, then cross a low ridge beneath the west face of Ausangate to our camp at hot springs in the hamlet of Pacchanta. (4,330 m/ 14,202′). 13 km. BLD
Day 3 Jampa Pass
We trek past glacial tarns and isolated shepherds’ huts toward the magnificent Jampa Pass (5,081 m/16,666′). The trail follows a moraine above a glacier flowing down from the snowpeaks east of our route. On most treks we see troops of vicuñas (the wild, graceful relative of the llama) amid the rugged scree and glacial ice. We camp beneath the towering west face of the Jatunjampa peaks, at Tiqlliacocha (4,840m/15,875’). 13 km. BLD
Day 4 Acero
We ascend a lateral moraine and drop down into our spectacular Acero camp at the head of the broad Jampa valley. You can take the afternoon off, or join the guide for an optional hike up the drainage to enjoy breathtaking views from a tarn directly beneath the glaciers at the head of the Acero valley. 4,860 m/15,905’; 4 km to camp. BLD
Day 5 Finaya
This morning we offer a challenging scramble, up to the 5,300 m/17,384’ col east of the camp, for spectacular views east toward massive Sibinacocha Lake and the icecap beyond. While we are on the mountain, our crew moves camp a couple of hours down the valley, up a side valley above the hamlet of Finaya, with views toward the east face of Nevado Ausangate. 9 km camp to camp. BLD
Day 6 Return to Cuzco
We enjoy a gentle 9-km. hike down along the Chillca River to the village of Chillca, the first sizeable community since the start of the trek. Our vehicle awaits; we load up, return to Cuzco and transfer to your hotel. BL
Tour Leadership: We pride ourselves on the quality, experience, and wide-ranging skills of our trekking guides. They are Peruvians, born and raised in the Cuzco highlands, who have combined their love of the mountains of their homeland with years of profes¬sional training. They are fluent in English, and bring to their groups a variety of personal interests ranging from birding to astronomy. Most of all, they are caring individuals. They make it their personal goal to see that you have the trip of a lifetime.
Full service trek with all the amenities for which we are famous: delicious food, tables and camp stools, a heated dining tent, spacious sleeping tents; Thermarest sleeping pads; reconfirmation of flights.
International and internal airfare, airport departure taxes; gratuities for trekking staff; hotels and tour services in Cuzco; personal clothing and trek equipment (you receive a detailed equipment list in our pre-departure packet); sleeping bag (you may rent winter-weight, mummy-style sleeping bags from us, subject to availability – please ask!); immunizations, insurance, laundry, telephone, other personal items. Please Note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary, but reserve the right to make minor changes where necessary for the safety and comfort of tour participants. Where changes result in increased costs, such costs will be the responsibility of the tour participant
HOW DO I MEET THE GUIDE ON ARRIVAL IN CUZCO?
Once we have received your final payment, we will send a Confirmation of Service voucher with your arrival details, plus any pre-paid transfers, and hotel arrange¬ments. Services in Peru are by Inca Tours and Travel Adventures (ITTA). On the day prior to the trek, there is an important orientation meeting with your guide and other group participants at noon in the ITTA office at Avenida Pardo 705, tel. (51-84) 225-701, Cuzco. We review trek arrangements, discuss clothing, health and diet, and distribute trail duffels, sleeping pads, and rented sleeping bags. Passengers who have not contacted the office by noon on the day prior to trek departure will be deleted from the roster. In such cases no refund is payable.
Please note that this is a high altitude trek with night temperatures typically below freezing for the duration of the trek. Bringing a ski hat, gloves, a winter-weight sleeping bag and parka will greatly enhance your enjoyment of the trek.
Modest hotels in Lima or Cuzco are available from US$38 per night in shared twin, $56 in single inclu¬ding taxes and continental breakfast. We are pleased to assist you with flights, air¬port transfers and additional tour ar¬rangements prior to and fol¬lowing your tour. For acclimation purposes, we require that you arrive in Cuzco three days or more prior to the trek.
Currency other than US$ is difficult to exchange. Bring travelers’ checks and/or cash. Major credit cards are accepted in hotels and larger restaurants. Meals in mainstream restaurants are similar in price to what you’ll pay at home in modest restaurants. 19% government value-added tax plus service charges of up to 10% are added to the bill. You’ll pay airport departure taxes of about US$5 for dom¬estic flights in Peru, and US$28 for international departures. Tipping your trek staff is optional but customary. Take between $20-$40 in local currency for this purpose. On the final trek morning, trekkers distribute pooled funds among guide(s), kitchen crew and wranglers. Suggested distribution: Guide $2.50 per day, Asst guide $1.00 per day, Cook $1.00 per day, Chief wrangler $1.00 per day, Asst cook $.50 per day, $5 for all the wranglers.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
Cuzco has well-defined seasons. From June to August, while Andean winter days are typically sunny and warm, the temperature can drop to below freezing (20°F/-9°C) at night in our high camps. Rain seldom falls during winter. Departures during Andean spring and autumn offer slightly warmer nights, but you still must pack for cold weather.
Expect a wide range of tem¬perature and preci¬pita¬tion on your program. In high mountain environments, you must be prepared for inclement weather at any time. Even at mid-day, if clouds obscure the sun, the apparent temperature cools dramatically. By packing a system of thin, independent layers of clothing, you can easily add or remove layers to remain comfortable as conditions change throughout the day.
Most trekkers leave camp in the morning wearing a cold-weather layer over T-shirt and shorts. At the first rest stop, after you have warmed up a bit, remove a layer. You’ll find that you’re making small adjustments throughout the day according to your pace and whether you’re trekking in the sun or under overcast skies. At all times, carry rain-gear in your day-pack.
Basic clothing list: underwear, thermal underwear (tops and bottoms), socks, lightweight hiking boots, sneakers for around camp, loose-fitting long pants or wind-pants, shorts, T-shirts, long-sleeved shirt, Polarfleece jacket, ski parka, full rain gear, sun hat, bathing suit, gloves and ski-type hat.
Other Gear Essential: Day pack, winter-weight sleeping bag, water bottle, flashlight, sunglasses, sunscreen, toilet kit. Optional: pocket knife, sewing kit, camera and film, binoculars, paperback book, snacks and/or energy bars.
Your outfitter provides: a heavy-duty, 4,100-cubic-inch trail duffel, Thermarest sleeping pad, tents and communal camping gear. The guide carries a hand-pump water filter.
Our llamas carry up to 14 kg (31 lb.) of your personal gear. If your packed duffel exceeds 14 kg. In weight (including sleeping bag and pad) at the trailhead, you will have to transfer excess weight from your duffel to your daypack.
While no vaccinations are mandatory for entering Peru, and no official is likely to demand to see proof of your vaccination against any disease, some protection is prudent. Consult your physician or local travelers’ clinic for the latest recom¬mendations. For general travel, the most common recommended vaccinations or boosters are against tetanus, typhoid/diphtheria, Hepatitis A, and polio. The World Health Organization does not recommend vaccination against cholera. If you’re visiting the Amazon before or after your trek, ask about yellow fever and chloroquine-resistant malaria. Some countries (notably Brazil) require travelers to show proof of a valid Yellow fever vaccination when arriving from Peru.
Important Notice for Vegetarians, Passengers with Allergies and Other Restricted Diets
In the cities, you will find sufficient vegetarian choices in most restaurants. We serve a variety of freshly-prepared foods in our camps. While our trek meals are designed for omnivores, we are able to satisfy most restricted-diet passengers. Strict vegetarians will have to bring many food supplements from home, as specialty items are unavailable in South America.
If you have food allergies you must detail these on your trip application when you register for your trek. Review these with our guide and operations staff during the trek orientation meeting.
Our approach in meeting the needs of restricted-diet passengers is the same: while our cooks concentrate on providing the main meal, they can heat and serve food supplied by the passengers that the passengers deem safe.
If you have a restricted diet, please ask for our memo detailing our approach to food service on the trek. Note: we treat our camp water (both for drinking and for cleaning) with iodine.