Hidden in the world’s longest continental mountain range, the Andes, is one of Peru’s best kept secrets. The rainbow coloured Vinicunca Mountains. Trekking to this spectacle, you will be treading through one of the wildest and rarely visited regions of Peru, and the crown jewel in the Andes.
Explore low alpine valleys, traditional Peruvian villages still rich in tradition and remote Andean culture. Snow capped peaks will tower over you, herds of llamas, glaciers and turquoise lakes will encapsulate you.
Condors will soar above you, pumas and bobcats will dart past. Bathe in hot springs along the way. You will circumnavigate the massive Ausangate Peak before reaching the breathtaking geological features of the ‘Rainbow Mountains’. The landscape looks like it has been painted with a brush. Red, orange, ochre, turquoise and blue create an unforgettable sight.
Combined with a fascinating and educational few days with remote Sacred Valley tribes, you will learn and witness their customs and traditions. From cocoa leaf ceremonies, to traditional dance and story telling under the stars, this is a journey that you will not forget, as you uncover the hidden secrets and beauty of Wild Peru.
Welcome to Peru! Upon arrival in Cusco, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure as you acclimatise to the altitude. The undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas, Cuzco is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city and the gateway to Machu Picchu. Cosmopolitan Cuzco (also Cusco, or Qosq’o in Quechua) thrives with a measure of contradiction. Ornate cathedrals squat over Inca temples, massage hawkers ply the narrow cobblestone passages, a rural Andean woman feeds bottled water to her pet llama while the finest boutiques sell pricey alpaca knits.
Overnight at Hotel Quinta San Blas or similar
Altitude: Approx. 3,400m
Following breakfast this morning, you will be picked up from your hotel in Cusco and transferred to Patabamba Community, its original name, Patapampa, meaning ‘plain’ or ‘flat place’ in the Quechua language. You will arrive at Patabamba community at approx. 8am and witness a coca leaf ceremony that is undertaken by scholars. The locals will then show you how to collect leaves, flowers, and herbs (according to the season), which are then used to carry out the traditional process of dyeing fabric which is then used to make clothes; a process handed down over many generations.
At 9am, you depart from Patabamba and head to Huchuy Qosqo archaeological remains. Located at 3,550m, the name comes from a Quechua word which means Little Cusco, however it was also known as Q’acyacawana which means in Spanish ‘place from where we can see thunder’. Historically, it is known for being the place of Inca Wiracocha, who died there according to legend. In colonial times, a mummy found was assumed to be Inca, and was burnt by Francisco Pizarro.
During your walk, you will enjoy Inter-Andean valleys typical of the region, with impressive viewpoints over the Sacred Valley of the Incas. After a midmorning traditional style snack, explore a part of the Inca trail which is also part of the Q’apac Ñan. In the village of Pukamarca, you will be able to take a break and enjoy a lunch box prepared by Patabamba Community members. Continue walking until you reach the archaeological remains of Huchuy Qosqo. From here, descend through typical flora and fauna from the region to the Huchuy Qosqo Community, arriving at the lower part of the Community before crossing to Lamay Qosqo, where you will see the differences between the two communities. (B,L,D)
2 nights in Huchuy Qosqo Community in a rural homestay
Walking distance: 12 km / 7.5 miles.
Walking time: Approx. 6-7 hours
Altitude: Patabamba Community: 3,800 m, Huchuy Qosqo archaeological remains: 3,550 m, Lamay village: 2,940 m
Early this morning, enjoy a local breakfast with the Huchuy Qosqo community. From here, you make your way to the Huayllafara Community, where you will be welcomed at the Cultural Centre for Interpretation with traditional music and beautiful flowers together with a ‘tinka’ – a symbolic benediction to Mother Earth to thank her for this new day and spending it with kindred people from different cultures.
After being welcome into the community, you will meet, the “Yachaqs – Children of the Earth.” The “Yachaqs” (Quechua word for “wise”) are experts in Andean agriculture. Decoding the cycles and the desires of the Pachamama (Mother Earth) is not only an ancient knowledge, but also a way of ensuring the village’s subsistence. In the community of Huayllafara you will learn about the art of Andean agriculture and the importance of the environment, all through the perspective of the Andean man. The community members will teach you the importance of vertical control, time cycles, seasons, and agricultural rituals.
Then, you will put your new knowledge to practice using traditional tools to plant or harvest food and manage a team of oxen! You will walk away from this experience an expert in Andean agriculture and with a better understanding of the villager’s relationship with the Earth.
After working up an appetite, you will have an amazing lunch consisting of local dishes prepared fresh with local ingredients harvested from the fields of Huayllafara.
Experience a culture filled night on your return to the Huchuy Qosqo community, with the interpretation of stars and storytelling, accompanied by traditional music around a warm wood fire. (B,L,D)
Walking distance: 8 km / 5 miles.
Walking time: Approx. 6hours
Difficulty: Moderate, Altitude 3,550 m
Following breakfast with the Huchuy Qosqo community, you will continue on to the Janac Chuquibamba community, where you will be welcomed with flowers and traditional Andean music. From here, enjoy a 30 min walk to a rocky hill, where you will find many Achupalla plants. These spiny leaved plants are regarded as a gift from Mother Earth by the members of the community; having medicinal purposes and are also used in many ways including making cooking utensils, bags, belts and for firewood. Even the Suksakuro worm which can be found living inside it is considered a delicacy and very nutritious! Discover the mysteries and uses of the Achupalla plant and taste the local gastronomy with products from the area. After your walk, you will enjoy a lunch made by the locals with ingredients harvested from the village fields.
You will finish your experience in the Andes with a traditional Earth ceremony called ‘Pago a la Pachamama’ or ‘Payment to the Mother Earth’ to thank her for our experiences and learnings.
Transfer to your hotel in Cusco. (B,L)
Overnight at Hotel Quinta San Blas or similar
Walking distance: 10 km / 6 miles.
Walking time: Approx. 7hours
Difficulty: Moderate, Altitude 3,600 m
Early in the morning, you will start a fascinating trip by bus through the fertile valley Vilcanota to Checacupe. You will visit a colonial temple and then head uphill to the valley of Pitumarca where you will pass through an amazing canyon called Japura which leads you to Chillca, where you will be welcomed by the local community. Enjoy a short walking tour until you reach the first ‘tambo’ (a place to rest). Once you have checked into your lodge, you will have time to relax and enjoy some typical music offered by the community people. (B,L,D)
Overnight Chillca Lodge
Walking time: 1.5hours
Difficulty: Low difficulty, Altitude 4,368 m
Journey Time: Drive approx. 4 hours
Today you will start your trekking in the wide valley of Pampa Uyuni. You will witness some unique sights of majestic ice floes. The path becomes narrower as you come closer to waterfalls whichflow from Santa Catalina mountain. Visit the small Paloma lagoon and take in the beautiful landscape full of lamas and alpacas before passing another lagoon, reaching Machuracay Tambo, and your lodge for the night situated at the base of the sacred Apu Ausangate Mountain. (B,L,D)
Overnight Machuracay Lodge
Walking distance: Approximately 11 km
Walking time: 8 hours
Difficulty: High difficulty, Altitude 4,350m-4,850 m
Be sure to eat a hearty breakfast this morning. After a hard uphill hike to the valley of Palomichayoc, you will have a chance to absorb the unforgettable view. Descend to Ausangatecocha lagoon and take in the amazing sight of the southern part of the ‘Apu’ ice floe, sure to inspire you while trekking. Make your way through the unusual reddish sandy formations that belong to ‘Inca´s Snow Peak’ and overnight at Anantapata Tambo, close to the spectacular mountains. (B,L,D)
Overnight Anantapata Lodge
Walking distance: Approximately 10 km
Walking time: 8 hours
Difficulty: High difficulty, Altitude 4,650m-5,200 m
Today is one of the most fabulous parts of your trek. You will be led along the multicoloured layers of the Rainbow Mountains. This red, yellow, sienna, grey and blue path will give you a great opportunity to study geological wonders and admire the unique beauty of this landscape. More than that, this is a perfect place to observe some groups of graceful wild ‘Vicuñas’, thought to be the wild ancestor of the alpaca, which can be seen on these lonely paths.
You will overnight in Huampococha Tambo, surrounded by unusual rocky formations near the lagoon of the same name, the place where ‘Huallatas’ (Andean geese) make their nests. (B,L,D)
Overnight Huampococha Lodge
Walking distance: Approximately 10 km
Walking time: 7 hours
Difficulty: High difficulty, Altitude 4,730m- 5,100 m
After a last and short uphill hike to Anta Pass, you will gradually start descending. Soon you will see the first houses and cultivated fields. The landscape changes quickly and the reddish sandy formations take over the chalkstone mountains that make up the unique rocky woods. This is an ideal habitat for spotting the shy Viscachas. Your driver will be waiting for you when you reach the valley of Pitumarca to transfer you back to Cusco. (B,L)
2 nights at Hotel Palacio Manco Capac or similar
Walking distance: Approximately 8 km
Walking time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate – High difficulty, Altitude 4,900 m
Journey Time: 3 hour drive
Today is yours at leisure to explore Cusco. (B)
Following breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
Download this tour’s PDF brochure and start your planning offline!
**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.