Grade

Challenging

Best of the Andes: The Peaks of Ausangate to Aconcagua

Best of the Andes: The Peaks of Ausangate to Aconcagua – An incredible 16-day trek & climb adventure in the Cordillera Vilcanota & Aconcagua national park.

This is a trek & climb program designed to enable you to acclimatise fully and climb some of the best peaks in the Andes.

Peru

Starting in Peru you’ll trek around the Nevada Ausangate, trekking up to Rainbow Mountain (Mt. Vinicunca) and then climbing Mt. Qampa to 5,400m.

A stunning and diverse route showing you a part of Peru that is largely untouched by tourism. Communities here continue to live traditionally and without many of the modern utilities that are in use today. Collecting you early from Cusco taking private transport; to meet up with our arrieros and mules at the start point. They will accompany us for the duration of the trek and climb expedition.

Following a short trek for 3 days; through the Vilcanota, you’ll then undertake a climb route of the Nevado Qampa.

Trek & Climb: Nevado Qampa (Jampa, also spelled Campa), is the easiest; and one of the most popular mountains in Cusco and may be climbed without experience in mountaineering. It requires a glacier hike and sometimes a small rock climbing pass depending on the season. Once at the summit it offers an incredible panoramic view; that reaches to Salkantay over 200km in a north western direction.

Argentina

Afterwards you’ll transfer back to Cusco and rest for the night before transferring to Cusco Airport for a series of domestic flights down to Mendoza, Argentina. On arrival you’ll spend the night before transferring to Penitentes for the start of your trek to Aconcagua.

Aconcagua Mountain is a part of the Andes mountain range, located in the province of Mendoza, Argentina. The summit is located just 15 kilometres away from the international border with Chile. It is one of the Seven Summits and the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas.

Following with a good climate, you’ll trek directly from Penitentes to the Plaza de Mulas (4,300m). From here you’ll begin your ascent to the summit via a number of high-altitude camps (Camp 1 – Canda, Camp 2 – Nido de Condores, Camp 3 – Colera). From the summit you’ll be able to enjoy an incredible 360° view from the summit that you’ll never forget: infinite mountains, white fields and glaciers, including the stunning peaks of Cerro Mercedario and Cerro Tolosa.

Descending back via the valley of Horcones, you’ll once more reach Penitentes. There is an option to spend the night here before transferring back to Mendoza for your onward flight out with plenty of time to reflect on an incredible adventure!

Mountain & Summit Stats

  • Altitude: 6,962m.
  • Route: Normal – North face
  • Difficulty: Non-technical & No risk of Avalanche.
  • Equipment: Expedition (Please refer to the videos below for equipment).
  • Requirements: Good physical condition and recommended prior experience at altitude.
  • Summit success: About 50%
  • Threats: Biggest threat is the cold (-20 to -30c) and altitude.
  • Summit Season: 15/11/19 – 24/02/20

Safety & Security: Your safety and security is our main priority.

  • Radio Equipment: On the expedition we will have radios & access to a rescue helicopter if required.
  • Medical: We will have oxygen available on the expedition, oximetro (to read oxygen levels in your blood), diamox (to combat any bad effects of altitude sickness), along with a complete medical box set for the expedition.
  • Health: Your health will be checked at regular intervals along the route (e.g. at every camp). All of our guides are fully trained in first aid and mountain rescue.
  • Pacing: It is important to go at a pace you are comfortable with and our guides will help support you in this.
  • Insurance: It is vital that you have adventure insurance for this trip.

Equipment

These videos highlight the best personal equipment to bring for the expedition.

Park Entrance Fees

Entrance fees for Aconcagua National Park for summit expeditions in 2020 are $800 USD per person.
Day 1
Cusco - Anantapata
Early in the morning, you'll leave Cusco to begin this Peru adventure. On a bus ride along the Vilcanota River Valley, and on to the town of Checacupe. After a visit to its Colonial Church of the Immaculate Conception, you'll start ascending the Pitumarca Valley, through the spectacular Japura Gorge that leads to Chillca, we will start the trek near the Ausangate Community, from there we will see the south face of the sacred Ausangate Mountain, as we continue towards the red sandstone formations of the "Nevado del Inca".
  • Accommodation: Camping Anantapata
  • Maximum Altitude: 4750 masl / 15580 fasl
  • Approximate Walking Time: 3 hrs
  • Approximate Driving Time: 4 hrs
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 2
Anantapata - Huampacocha via Rainbow Mountain
After breakfast, we take the trail to another mountain pass. Dropping down, we'll hike by Lake Kayrawiri, surrounded by rugged mountain peaks and the great valley below. Striations of color are imbedded in the hillsides. Then we go on to Cerro Laya Grande via the massive glacier del Inca, and the most striking colors in the sediments of Yauricunca. This area is called ‘montana arcoiris’ by the locals, and often referred to as ‘Rainbow Mountain’ by visitors, the spectacular colours make for amazing photography. We lunch here in this unique landscape. On our way, we see hundreds of Andean geese nesting in the cliffs of Anta, and the flatiron formations of Apu Labrayani near Huampococha Tambo, where we will spend the night at the Camino del Apu Ausangate.
  • Accommodation: Camping Huampococha
  • Maximum Altitude: 4980 masl / 16388 fasl
  • Approximate Walking Time: 7 hrs
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3
Huampacocha - Pacchanta
After a last climb over the Anta pass, we will gradually make our descent. In this section the first crops and houses come into view. The landscape changes quickly as the red sandstone formations are followed by the carsten erosion of limestone, forming a one of a kind stone forest, and a perfect habitat for “vizcacha” (members of the chinchilla family). By the time we get down the valley, we'll continue to head towards Pacchanta.
  • Maximum Altitude: 4900 masl / 16100 fasl
  • Approximate Walking Time: 4 hrs
  • Approximate Driving Time: 3 hrs
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4
Pacchanta - Qampa Nevado Base Camp
In Pacchanta, the following day we meet the muleteers and cook of the expedition, after lunch we start the hike 4 hours to the base camp, with impressive views of the main snowcapped Cusco region such as: Ausangate (6384 masl), Cayangate (6110 masl) and others, always accompanied by llamas and alpacas. Already in the base camp the personal high mountain equipment (harnesses, crampons, ice axes, helmets, leggings, gloves) will be delivered, the high mountain guide will teach you the correct way of using the equipment, how to act on a glacier and have them ready for promotion.
  • Accommodation: Camping Base Camp
  • Maximum Altitude: 5,250 masl / 17224 fasl
  • Approximate Walking Time: 4hrs
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5
Base Camp - Summit - Qampa Nevado Base Camp
Leaving at 3am you’ll have a light breakfast, it is necessary to attack a mountain at dawn. You’ll leave the base camp and in 2 hours of ascent by moraine arriving at the glacier, where we prepare ourselves with the mountain equipment to enter the glacier. Within about 3 hours on the glacier you’ll reach the summit of the Qampa mountain which is 5,500 meters above sea level. Taking half an hour on the summit to rest and enjoy the high Andean landscapes, surrounded by much of the snowy mountains of the Cordillera Vilcanota. The descent to the base camp will take a further 3 hrs, where lunch will be taken and you’ll have the whole afternoon free to relax and reflect on an epic climb.
  • Accommodation: Camping Base Camp
  • Maximum Altitude: 5,500 masl / 18044 fasl
  • Approximate Walking Time: 8 hrs
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6
Qampa Nevado Base Camp - Pacchanta - Cusco
Leaving at 9am for Pacchanta after breakfast, arriving at Pacchanta in about 3 hours where there’ll be the option to enter the thermal baths and buy handicrafts from Pacchanta and then have lunch and return to the City of Cusco where by around 6pm you’ll be dropped to your hotels, and you can spend the evening relaxing and recalling a great route!
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 7-8
Domestic Flights from Cusco to Mendoza, Argentina
Today you'll take a series of Domestic Flights from 1. Cusco - 2.Lima - 3.Santiago - 4.Mendoza.
  • Overnight Mendoza
Day 9
Transport from Mendoza to Penitentes. Trek to Confluencia
On arrival into Penitentes we'll load our mules with the equipment required for the high camps. Starting off from Pentitentes you'll trek for around 3-4 hrs. The trek paths are very dry and dusty, but always surrounded by the backdrop of the stunning range of Andean mountains. Glimpses of Aconcagua are present on the first day. You'll reach camp at Confluencia after only a few hours trekking.
  • Accommodation: Camping Confluencia
  • Maximum Altitude: 2,950 masl / 9678 fasl
  • Approximate Walking Time: 3-4 hrs
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 10
Trekking from Confluencia to Plaza de Mulas
Today it's a very early start with breakfast before departure. You'll begin the trek very early at around 7:00 am, today the estimated trekking time is 8-10 hrs. Today is a fairly long stretch, but always accompanied by mules being driven through the Horcones Valley. Lots of water, sunglasses, headwear and sunscreen is vital for this day. On arrival to base camp at the 'Plaza de Mulas' you'll have a place to stop and rest before the push to the summit.
  • Accommodation: Camping Plaza de Mulas
  • Maximum Altitude: 4,500 masl / 14764 fasl
  • Approximate Walking Time: 8-10 hrs
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 11
Camp 1 - Canada
Taking breakfast before departure. You'll initiate the ascent towards the direction of the first advanced camp, this is 'Plaza Canada'. The trekking time is from 3 to 4 hrs. Installation of Camp, the night will be cold but it's important to be prepared with very good equipment.
  • Accommodation: Camping Canada
  • Maximum Altitude: 4,910 masl / 16108 fasl
  • Approximate Walking Time: 3-4 hrs
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 12
Camp 2 - Nido de Condores
Taking breakfast before departure. You'll continue the ascent to the second camp, 'Nido de Condores'. An impressive sight awaits of the Andes mountain range. You are high enough (over three miles above the Pacific) to grandstand above the smaller part of the Andes. Trekking from 2-4 hrs. Installation of camp.
  • Accommodation: Camp Nido de Condores
  • Maximum Altitude: 5,450 masl / 17880 fasl
  • Approximate Walking Time: 2-4 hrs
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 13
Camp 3 - Colera
Taking breakfast before departure. Ascent to the third high field "Camp Colera". Time estimated from 2-4 hrs. Installation of the High Field camp. This is a very important day, to rest early in the evening and take a light dinner.
  • Accommodation: Camp Colera
  • Maximum Altitude: 5,870 masl / 19258 fasl
  • Approximate Walking Time: 2-4 hrs
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 14
Camp Colera - Summit - Plaza de Mulas
This day begins at 4:00 am, with breakfast. You'll climb the North Edge up to the refuge Independence, located at around 6,450 m. It is in this place where the sunbeams reach us for the first time during this day. You'll encounter the " Portezuelo of the Wind ", where you must face strong winds even in days of relative calmness. From there voyaging on the top part of the West face and climb " The Canaleta ", a channel of 300 mts. that leads us to the summit edge. After The Canaleta, the " Edge of the Gump " represents an easy voyage up to the summit. The latter part normally takes us an hour. From the edge of the Gump we can observe directly under our feet the 3,000 mts. of vertical ice and rock of the South Wall of Aconcagua, considered to be one of the biggest walls of the world. At the summit is the ultimate prize: a sight of 360 º and the experience of personal feelings and indescribable emotions, which only are understood by experiencing it for yourself. The satisfaction of reaching your aim, coupled with the termination of the expedition, mean it is time to begin the asecent and make your way back to Mendoza. It is necessary to save some of your energy for the descent back to the 'Plaza de Mulas'.
  • Accommodation: Camp Plaza de Mulas
  • Maximum Altitude: 6,962 masl / 22841 fasl
  • Approximate Walking Time: 8-10 hrs
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 15-16
Plazas de Mulas to Penitentes
Leaving early in the morning after a good breakfast you'll head back to Penitentes from the Plaza de Mulas, where transport will be waiting to transport us back to Mendoza for onward connecting flights.

Tour Info

Breakfast x 13
Lunch x 14
Dinner x 12
Private Transport – collection & drop-off
Professional bilingual high-mountain guide
Arrieros & Mules
All Camping & Dining equipment (Sleeping bags to hire + Trekking Poles)
Hotels before & after (can be organised as part of trip)
Extension trips to Machu Picchu
Tips for crew
Domestic flights (can be organised as part of trip)
Crampons, Ice Axe, Harness, Helmet (can be hired as part of trip)
Adventure Travel & Evacuation Insurance
Entrance permits to the Aconcagua National Park (We will help you secure these permits)
Any additional extras
There will be a pre-trek briefing held usually the evening before departure, at your hotel, to go over the details of the trek and any specific requirements not already captured
Prior to setting off we recommend you steer clear of street food and only eat in good restaurants, to avoid any stomach complaints. Peruvian food can be spicy, it can be strong and rich for many European diets. Likewise with tap water, it is largely untreated, so please avoid at all costs on arrival and stick to bottled water only or sterilised water if you have the right equipment.
We’ll ensure that we cater for all of your dietary needs, at the point of booking we’ll collect this information from you. We can secure special menu requests also for your trek party.
We are able to customise our treks to suit you, but usually our treks are guided by a professional bilingual guide, arriero (horseman) and mules to carry all equipment (passenger horses also available on request), and a mountain cook. They become a large part of your trekking expedition and it’s a great experience working together.
This is a really important part of your trip planning process, please find a link below which explains a little more about preparing for altitude.
Attached below are a couple of links which will explain how to prepare for your trip & trek in advance of your arrival. We recommend being prepared in advance to save time & stress whilst you’re in Peru.

Video Maps

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