Mt. Ausangate (Awsanqati in Quechua) is the fifth highest mountain in Peru. It is an important place, not only for its beautiful landscapes and cultural heritage, but also because its glaciers, streams and lakes provide water for the communities of Cusco and for the Machu Picchu hydroelectric power plant, which generates electricity for thousands of families.
Mt. Ausangate’s location
Mt. Ausangate is located in the Vilcanota Range of the Andes Mountains. It’s about 100 km. southeast of the city of Cusco,
in the Pitumarca district of Canchis Province.
The mountain’s main peak is at 6,384 meters (20,944 ft.) altitude above sea level, which makes it visible from the city of Cusco. According to Andean religious belief, since Inca times Ausangate has been considered an Apu, or protective deity and a source of life.
What can you find
Surrounding this magnificent snowcap one can see glaciers, large lakes of brilliant blue-green waters, sparkling streams and springs, and rock forests. All this makes for an earthly paradise, especially for those who enjoy hiking, adventure sports and mountaineering.
This remote mountain region is habitat for numerous species of flora and fauna, as well as being the ancestral home of traditional native Quechua camelid herders, who are happy to share the richness of their land with travelers from around the world.
Here, you can join mountain treks, with comfortable overnight stays at outstanding ecolodges, operated by Andean Lodges, a community-based tourism enterprise that is committed to socially responsible ecotourism.
What can you do at Ausangate?
Some of the main sights and attractions on the Cusco-Ausangate route include the colonial-era church and bridge at Checacupe, Lake Surini, the Qenqomayo River, Ausangate cocha Lake, and the Ananiso Canyon, among many others.
Together with Andean Lodges, you can get to know this amazing destination and enjoy the many adventures it has to offer. At Andean Lodges, we consider ourselves to be the most socially responsible outfitter in Cusco, and we’re fully committed to conserving the environment and preserving the diverse cultures and traditions of Peru.
Myths, legends and traditions of Ausangate
The main legend surrounding the mountain and its lakes and waters is that it is the origin of male energy that fertilizes the sacred lands of Pachamama, or Mother Earth, which, following a long journey, joins the waters of the Amazon River. Eventually, those waters return to the glaciers and snowy peaks in the form of a river of stars, known as Willkamayu, the Milky Way.
Chillca, the community nearest to the snowcap, is a town of llama and alpaca herders. The town is entrusted with the stewardship of this amazing land, and it is the trailhead for treks and expeditions. Expertly guided mountain treks take place following overnight stays at our cozy, comfortable lodges or tambos.
The celebration of the Snow Star, or Qoyllur Rit’i, takes place each year on the north side of this natural wonder, a few days before Cusco’s Corpus Christi celebration in late May or early June.
During the Qoyllur Rit’i celebration, thousands of native Quechua participate in a pilgrimage to venerate the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i, a painted stone or pictograph at the temple of Sinkara. This pilgrimage has been included on the United Nation’s listing of World Cultural Heritage Sites.