Back from Awesome Ausengate

Trip Start Oct 15, 2008
1
9
55
Trip End Jun 01, 2009


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Where I stayed
Hostel Tinqui

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Made it back to Cuzco in one piece (just!) after our awesome trek around Ausengate, one of the highest mountains in Peru and not too far from Cuzco.  We wanted to do something a bit different and less frequented than the Inca Trail (which is always fully booked and has 500 people doing it at any one time - so that must mean youīre trekking and camping with about 100 others).  So we found this trek in the Lonely Planet and after asking around a bit in Cuzco we decided to just go to the start of it (small village called Tinqui) and organise it from there.

PS donīt feel you have to read any further, especially those who have weak stomachs! - might be long and boring but thereīs so much we wanted to record about the trek.

We left some stuff at our friendly place in Cuzco and caught the bus up to Tinqui.  This should have taken 6-7 hrs but because of a new road opened this year, it only took 3hrs (still not sure we could have taken much more of the repetitive music and video on board the bus)!  Tinqui feels a bit like some wild west, one-horse town.  It obviously doesnīt see that many gringos and everythingīs pretty basic.  We found one of the 3 hostels and met the owner - Sr Crispin - who just happens to help organise treks around Ausengate.  We told him what we were looking to do and he offered us a guide, 2 horses and 1 arrero (person who looks after the horses).  Bit of a debate between Andy and I at this point but we finally agreed that since this was our first trek and we were going above 5,000m it was probably best that we hire a horse to take our rucksacks and a guide since itīs now the wet / snow season and may be difficult to find the path.  By the way, this is all in my pigeon Spanish and at 3,700m but all seemed to work out and our guide, arrero and horses turned up the next morning at 8am. 

Just a bit about our night in Tinqui as it was our first real experience of life outside the big city.  The new road will obviously bring a few more tourists but the locals were complaining that up till now it had just brought īladronesī (thieves) from Lima & Cuzco.  Although it appears to be just a line of houses on either side of the road, Tinqui has a plaza, a few shops and some more houses up the mountain.  Whatīs really strange is that there are loads of houses that appear unfinished - just mud bricks with a bit of plaster, no windows and no inside.  In fact, all the houses we went in had very little in terms of a floor - just mud.  There were 2 īrestaurantsī which obviously catered for the truckers that go through on to Brazil and had a set menu - benches to sit on, a few chickens and guinea pigs running between our feet, a small TV in the corner, with a constant hum, that the locals came to watch.  I think our hostal was probably one of the nicest houses in Tinqui as it had a courtyard and a balcony (although the shower was outside and next to the shit-hole, with some kind of Frankenstein electrical switch for hot water with wires hanging out).

We did the trek in 5 days although if it had been really good weather, Iīm sure we would have taken longer (normally takes 6 days).  The mornings were beautifully sunny, although blindingly bright, started about 5am, but by 1pm it normally had clouded over and then later we would get rain, snow or hail.  Meals were pretty basic and I never want to eat pasta again - we had it for breakfast and supper every day.  Lunch was īpanī with a bit of salami.  All our equipment seemed to work well - sleeping bags, thermarests and tent kept us warm and dry, stove gave us hot meals, water filter made sure our water was clean, torches gave us light.  Not much by the way of entertainment as our ipod was stolen on the Galapagos boat and Iīd forgotten Vicīs card game instructions but to be honest we were so exhausted by the time it got dark (about 6pm, having just managed to get the tent up and have a hot meal before the bad weather set in), we just collapsed into our sleeping bags.  It was a tough trek and both of us had had enough at some point or other.  The altitude just makes everything so much harder and you do everything (including thinking) at half the pace.  Both of us suffered from headaches and breathlessness at times and relied on Crispinīs altitude remedy - some weird concoction of herbs in alcohol.  But I think we both thought it was all worth it in the end.

We saw a great collection of llamas, alpacas, vicuņas, viscachas (sort of cross between squirrel and hare), birds of prey, geese...  The landscape was pretty barren when up high, with little shelter, but it kept changing as you went over a pass or through a valley.  There were 4 passes in total, 2 of which were over 5,000m.  The first day was a slow ascent as we got closer to Ausengate and we camped next to some hot springs.  The second day we climbed up and over 2 passes and pitched the tent in a small valley beneath the third dayīs ascent of the highest pass, 5,200m?  This was a long day but the hardest climb was the fourth day with another 5,000+ pass and a long descent to a small collection of houses where we camped and took advantage of the hot thermal springs.  The last day was a deceptively long, slow walk down back into Tinqui - the big city after days of isolation in the mountains!!!

A final great thing about this walk was the people we did meet along the way.  No gringos in sight but local people who only spoke Quechua and who lived in these parts much as they must have done centuries ago.  Both women and men dressed really colourfully but obviously used to the conditions - we met one guy who walked around in the snow without anything on his feet but a pair of sandals!  (We did give him some of our pasta dinner though!) 

Walter and Jose were our guide and arrero for the trek.  They were brothers and I think early 20s if not younger.  Although Walter spoke Spanish, Quechua was their language (it sounds a bit like Israeli - very throaty).  The trek wasnīt difficult to follow but a number of people in the past have been robbed and I think it was useful to have them both (on one night we had a couple of women shouting outside our tent in Quechua accusing us of having their sheep for dinner!)  On the last night, they introduced us to a local girl who cooked us alpaca and chips!  Walter loved his radio and we were treated to a constant stream of Peruvian music.  Half way through the radio broke though - disaster! - but Andy came to the rescue and gave him his.   

Hope this gives a flavour of our trek - sorry if itīs a bit long but at least now thereīs pictures to look at.  At the moment, Andy is recovering from jelly belly (giardia) and Iīm nursing a sunburnt lip, sore eyes and sprained ankle (thank goodness I did this on the last day when leaving our hostel).
Lots of love from deepest Peru
Esther & Andy
Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

jillwigley
jillwigley on

Demo from jane
just showing mum how to post a comment.

jillwigley
jillwigley on

at last!
Now I know how to do it! I love all your detailed news & the photos. I'll look forward to Machu Pichu next.I hope Andy is feeling better now. Love Mum.

andyestherblog
andyestherblog on

Re: at last!
Hi Mum
Great that you now know how to post comments etc. I´m feeling a lot better, almost finished course of pills. Have stopped farting and burping! Will post Machu Pichu entry soon.
Love
Andy and Esther xx

gerrimajella
gerrimajella on

Fabulous photos and a great read!
Hi Esther and Andy,

Hope you're both recovered now? Am really enjoying reading this - and you've taken some amazing photos!

All good here - very cold, snow due tmr. Am off to New Orleans on Sunday and am hoping it will be a lot warmer there.

Speak again soonest - take care - Gerri xxx

fleet on

Hey, Esther and Andy, do you happen to remember how much it cost per person and what hostel you stayed? Im looking to doing the trek in a week. Thanks - Fleet

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