We’ve partnered up with REI Adventures and LATAM so you can win a 10-day trek through the mountains of Peru that can only be described as…well, epic.
Some of today’s most respected outdoor writers recently completed REI’s epic Ausangate Lodge-to-Lodge Trek. Now it could be your turn. You and a guest will venture on a 10-day journey that pairs a thrilling Ausangate trek across the Peruvian Andes with Machu Picchu.
Day 0: Flight with LATAM Airlines
Start your journey on your LATAM flight to follow REI and a group of travel writers on their 10-day Ausangate trek through the Peruvian Andes and to Machu Picchu. Witness their rugged and rewarding experience as they hike amongst glaciers, alpaca herds, candy-hued lagoons and surreal rainbow-striped passes.
Day 1: Marvels & Mysteries of Cusco
Your trip begins today in Cusco, Peru. We meet our local guide at our centrally-located hotel for a brief orientation meeting. Afterwards, we’ll set out on a guided tour of this historic city. We’ll take in many of the city’s most notable sights including the bustling Plaza de Armas (main square) and neighboring cathedral; the Santo Domingo Church, built atop the stone ruins of the once magnificent Inca temple Koricancha (Temple of the Sun), and the imposing remains of the monolithic Sacsayhuaman fortress.
Day 2: Sacred Valley Exploration
This morning we visit Chinchero, a high Andean town that once served as a country estate for Tupac Inca, an early Incan ruler. Known for its commanding view of the surrounding snowcapped mountains and centuries-old houses. Next we drive to the nearby village of Maras where we take a two-hour downhill hike to the Pichincoto mines, local salt mines built by the Incas, and still used today. We then travel through the Sacred Valley to the small town of Ollantaytambo. After a guided walking tour, we return to Urubamba for dinner.
Day 3: Hike the Inca Trail & Pass Through the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu
Today we’ll hike the final leg of the famous Inca Trail, arriving at Machu Picchu on foot as the ancient Incas did. We’ll take a train to km 104, where we will disembark and start our hike. After crossing the Urubamba River by suspension bridge, we follow the Inca Trail to ‘Inti Punku’ (the Sun Gate). Here we get out first dramatic view of Machu Picchu. We’ll descend to the ruins and briefly explore some areas close to the trail before arriving in Aguas Calientes.
Day 4: Machu Picchu Exploration & Andes Train Ride
We return to Machu Picchu this morning. Our guide will point out many interesting sights within Machu Picchu, a masterpiece of engineering and architecture. Machu Picchu, which means “Old Mountain”, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. After lunch this afternoon, we travel by train back to the town of Ollantaytambo. From here we will transfer by van to our hotel in Cusco.
Day 5: Japura Gorge to Chillca Tambo
Meet your guide at your hotel for a morning departure to the start of your trek. Heading south from Cusco, we leave behind the Sacred Valley and follow the Vilcanota river towards Ausangate. We pause along the way to visit local communities and explore bustling morning markets. The final leg of our approach snakes through the steep walls of Japura Gorge before we arrive in the small village of Chillca. From the village, we’ll leave the van behind and hike to our first lodge of the trek, Chillca Tambo.
Day 6: Glacial Valleys & Mighty Ausangate
After a morning coca tea, we start hiking through the Phinaya Valley. Green, grassy plains offer a stark contrast to the white glaciers and blue sky above. Mount Ausangate sits at the end of the valley, an imposing figure guiding our way. As the valley narrows and becomes more dramatic we arrive at Machuracay Tambo, our home for the night. This lodge is among the highest in the world, 15,797 ft, and is located in a privileged position near the base of Ausangate.
Day 7: Palomani Pass, Red Lagoon & Glacier Calving Picnic
Today’s trek begins with a demanding ascent over Palomani pass. At 16,896 feet, this is the highest pass on the trek. We’ll pass the red lagoon, and on a clear day, have commanding views of Mount Ausangate. The lake looks upon the south face of Ausangate and we’ll be treated to the sounds and sights of the glacier calving into the lake. After lunch, we’ll pass through lush pampas and glacial moraines to our third lodge. Anantapata is located at the top of the Alcatauri Gorge, a striking area of wetlands surrounded by the snowcapped peaks of Mts. Tacusiri and Ausangate.
Day 8: Rainbow Mountain Minus the Crowds
An early morning departure allows us to arrive at Vinicuna Pass (Rainbow Mountain) before the crowds. One of the most famous sites in Peru, Vinicunca is a geological wonder comprised of colorful striations of sediments resembling a rainbow. We continue into the red valley, dropping down through walls of brilliant red stone to see Lake Kayrawiri. In the afternoon, we arrive at the Huampacocha lodge. Huampacocha sits on a high plateau that features a tranquil mountain lake and a 180-degree view of the mountain range.
Day 9: Huampoccasa Pass & Descent to Cusco
After a relaxed morning to enjoy the lodge, we head off to make our final pass ascent – Huampoccasa Pass – before beginning our descent. The landscape changes around every corner, shifting from dramatic red sandstone to lush agricultural valleys and working families. We have lunch in a local community before beginning the trip back to civilization. Upon arrival in Cusco, transfer to our hotel and have time to freshen up before our celebration dinner.
Day 10: Breakfast in the Capital of the Inca Empire
Wake up in Cusco. After breakfast, we head to the airport for our departing flights. Trip members can opt to return to Lima for connecting flights home or extend their travels in Peru.