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Inca Trail vs. Ausangate Trek – Which trek to choose?

Inca Trail vs. Ausangate Trek

Have you decided to come to Cusco, but you still don’t know which route to choose? Here, we leave you two main alternative ways, according to your tastes and preferences: the famous Inca Trail and the tour to the sacred mountain Ausangate. Offer unforgettable experiences, but each is its own way. 

Here are the differences between the classic Inca Trail and the tour to the imposing Ausangate so you can choose the best trekking option for you. Let’s start!

Inca Trail:

The Inca Trail or Qhapaq Ñan is one of the most famous trekking routes in the world that runs through 6 countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile; its destination is the majestic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. This route is currently considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Short inca Trail trek
Inca Trail Trek

Flora, fauna, and landscapes on the Inca Trail:

On the Inca Trail, you will travel along ancient stone paths where the Incas passed, and you will witness diverse flora such as orchids, eucalyptus forests, and some plants from the tropical region. In addition, you will find beautiful mountains, different types of birds, and cloud forests, among others. The Inca Trail is home to the spectacled bear. 

You will also explore several archaeological sites: 

  • Llactapata
  • Wayllabamba 
  • Runkurakay
  • Phuyupatamarca
  • Wiñay Wayna
  • Inti Punku

As one of the favorite routes for many travelers, the Inca Trail is a destination that receives crowds of tourists throughout the year. The best months to make the Inca Trail are from April to October. Every February, the route is closed for maintenance. The great variety of landscapes and the sensation of being in the middle of the flora and fauna of this place is one of the best experiences you should enjoy in Peru. 

What are the characteristics of the Inca Trail?

  • The Inca Trail takes you directly to Machu Picchu through an ancestral path made by ancient men.
  • The number of visitors per day is 500. It is advisable to book at least four months in advance.
  • You will find exuberant landscapes on the trail, from imposing ice-covered mountains to dense cloud forests in the jungle.
  • The Inca Trail is characterized by several archaeological sites distributed along the way.
  • The entrance is more strict and controlled because thousands of tourists choose this route. 
  • The maximum altitude is at the Warmiwañusca pass (4,215 m.a.s.l.).
  • The nights are cold, and the sun is intense during the day. Therefore, it is advisable to bring a hat, sunglasses, and repellent, among others.
  • The Inca Trail can only be made with a certified and authorized travel agency.

Ausangate Trek

As well as the Inca Trail being the best known trek in the area, several trekking alternatives do not require any permits to do them. Among them is the Ausangate Trek, a perfect tour for people who want to explore the beauty of the mountains of Peru. It is undoubtedly an unforgettable tour for mountain trekking lovers.

Ausangate Lake
Ausangate Trek

Flora, fauna, and scenery on the Ausangate Trek

Ausangate means “the one that gives life” and is considered a place to recharge good energy surrounded by extensive and beautiful turquoise lagoons like the Sibinacocha. In addition, you will get incredible views of peaks, snow-capped mountains, diverse flora, and the area’s fauna.

The Ausangate is a sacred mountain with great importance in the Andean cosmovision and is the tutelary apu of the Cusco region due to its energy and magic. This trek is famous for the pilgrimage of the Lord of Qoyllur Riti, which takes place every year in June to honor the harvest season and indigenous heritage. 

What are the characteristics of the Ausangate trek?

  • The snow-capped Ausangate is the highest mountain in the city of Cusco and the fifth-highest in Peru.
  • It is one of Peru’s most beautiful and sacred treks, but not very crowded.
  • It has an altitude of 6,372 m.a.s.l. in the Vilcanota mountain range.
  • On the way, you will appreciate incredible views of the Andean landscapes.
  • The Ausangate trek can be done with a travel agency or on your own.
  • Along the way, you will find horses to help you get around.
  • You will be able to observe diverse fauna: condors, chinchillas, llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas.
  • The tour is considered a spiritual route, ideal for making offerings and thanking the apus for everything they have given you.
  • You will observe magical turquoise blue lagoons in the surroundings.
  • The hike can be done all year round.
  • Camping on the Ausangate route will recharge you with good energy around the mountains.

Which trek to choose, Inca Trail vs. Ausangate Trek?

To choose any of these incredible options, you must take into account the type of trip you want to do:

If you value your alone time, consider the Ausangate trek. This trek is recommended for people who love nature and want to get away from the big crowds to explore more pristine places in the Andes. While you will not see archaeological sites on this trail, you will connect with the environment more deeply.

On the other hand, the Inca Trail is for people who want to explore more archaeological sites and learn about the history of the Incas. It can be difficult to find tickets for this trek, but it is worth it. During this trek, you will feel like you are traveling back in time through ancient paths until you reach the wonder of the world, Machu Picchu. 

Whichever hike you choose, we assure you that you will have an unforgettable experience in the imperial city of Cusco.

Which of these fascinating treks caught your attention the most? 

Tours to Inca Trail and Ausangate:

Here we show you the best tours to the Inca Trail and Ausangate.

About the author

Travel agency for travelers looking for adventure, tradition, culture, good food and everything in PERU.

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