One of the most beautiful mountain ranges in all of Peru has to be Ausangate. Its grand snow-capped peaks protrude proudly from the surrounding punas, fringed by many a beautiful turquoise lake below. These jewel-like lagoons were once only reserved for the keen multi-day trekkers of the Andes. But, there is a much simpler way to experience Ausangate lagoons now. And I’m not talking about seeing just one, but seven of them! Thanks to the beautiful 7 Lagunas of Ausangate day hike tour, it’s possible to enjoy these pristine lakes and a small slice of what Ausangate has been enticing the adventurous hiker with for years.
Also known as 7 Lagunas de Ausangate and the 7 Lakes of Ausangate, this breathtaking day hike will leave you in complete awe at just how beautiful nature can be. Untouched and unspoiled, the Ausangate mountain and its patch of 7 Lagunas is an unforgettable experience.
In this guide, we’ll talk about why you should experience the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate trek, what the day tour looks like, whether to book a tour or hike independently and what to bring. We’ll also cover some tips on acclimatising, look at some hiking alternatives and even suggest some cool places to stay in Cusco on either side of your trip.
Table of Contents
Reasons to Hike the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate
Ausangate is a stunning place to experience the magic of the Andes. Nestled in the Vilcanota Mountain Range, this cluster of spectacular Ausangate lagoons is as close to perfect as glacial lakes get. Each a slightly different shade of blue, they’re completely mesmerising.
The roughly 13km hike is a small loop trail passing by seven incredible lakes. Although the trail is easy to follow, the elevation gain and high altitude of the mountain setting increase the difficulty of the trek considerably. Be sure to spend a few days acclimatising in Cusco before heading out to the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate. You can read more about acclimatising here.
You may be more familiar with Ausangate as a well-known multi-day hike from Cusco. But, of course, not everyone is up for a multi-day trek or even has the time to spare for it. With that in mind, the 7 Lakes of Ausangate day trip is the perfect way to experience the sheer beauty of the Ausangate Mountain, condensed into a single day.
For a truly breathtaking day trip from Cusco, you really can’t go wrong with this tour.
What Are The 7 Lagunas de Ausangate?
The 7 Lagunas de Ausangate are a sublime cluster of incredible glacial lakes, at the foot of the outstanding Ausangate Mountain. Walking the loop in a clockwise direction, this is the order in which you’ll see the lakes: Puca Cocha, Alqa Cocha, Pata Cocha, Ccomer Cocha, Otorongo Male, Otorongo Female and Azul Cocha.
Tour of the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate
Many tour companies in Cusco city now offer the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate as a day trip. It’s also possible to book these tours online now, with companies like Get Your Guide. They generally offer a better cancellation cover and change of dates. But, with that, they can also be much more expensive. So, with that in mind, I’d recommend booking with a tour company directly in Cusco.
A 7 Lakes of Ausangate tour includes round-trip transportation from Cusco, breakfast, lunch and a guide. Double check with whichever agency you book with as to whether the entry fee for both the seven lakes and thermal baths are included. Often they are not.
If a big tour group sounds like hell, it’s possible to book a private tour too. These will be much more expensive though.
General prices for a group tour to the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate are around S/80–100 per person ($20–25).
Day Trip Itinerary
- 4am leave Cusco
- 2–3 hour drive to Pacchanta
- 4–5 hour hike to the 7 Lagunas de Ausangate
- Return to Pacchanta for lunch
- Thermal pools at Pacchanta
- Return to Cusco 7pm
The 7 Lagunas of Ausangate Hike
The hike ascends out of the small town of Pacchanta towards the snow-capped, towering peaks of the Ausangate Mountain range. Even from here, just a few steps in, the views will blow you away. This full day excursion is gonna be good.
The terrain is rocky but the trail is clear and easy to follow. Eventually, you’ll reach a fork where you can either follow the trail to the left or right. It doesn’t really matter as the whole hike is a loop, but most 7 Lagunas of Ausangate tours seem to head left and complete the trail in a clockwise direction.
Soon enough, you’ll reach the first of the seven lakes. It will take your breath away. From there, they come thick and fast, and at some points of the hike, you’re able to see a whole bunch of them all at once. One of the best lookouts to reach is around the Otorongo campsite. From here, you have enough elevation to survey the beauty of all the lakes on one side, and marvel at the grand Ausangate peaks on the other.
Thankfully, from this point, the return to Pacchanta begins and the trail starts to wind back downhill.
Once you’ve returned to Pacchanta, it’s time for lunch and then a quick soak in the thermal hot springs to rest any tired legs. I can’t think of a better way to end a hike, to be honest.
If group tours aren’t your thing, it’s possible to hike the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate independently. You’ll first need to make your own way to Pacchanta. From Cusco, you will need to take just one bus from Terminal Paradero Livitaca to the town of Tinqui (Tinki). The bus terminal is opposite the Coliseo Cerrado for your reference. Bus tickets generally cost S/15–20 ($4–5USD) and the journey time is 2.5–3 hours. Buses depart from 5am every day and leave twice an hour.
From Tinki, you will need to take a taxi to Pacchanta. The journey time is around 30 minutes and will cost around S/10 ($4USD). It’s a good idea to have some form of map or GPS for the hike, especially to find the trailhead once in Pacchanta. Although, once on the trail, it’s fairly easy to follow. Maps.me should suffice to keep you on the right track.
It’s important to acclimatise properly before visiting the 7 Lakes of Ausangate in Peru. Altitude sickness (AKA Acute Mountain Sickness) is a common illness experienced by travellers and hikers alike heading to high altitudes. The main symptoms of AMS include headache, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, indigestion and loss of appetite. Even if you’ve avoided altitude sickness before, it doesn’t guarantee you won’t get it the next time!
You’ll read many different tips online about how to avoid altitude sickness. But, the most important way to reduce your chance of getting altitude sickness is to simply avoid going up too high, too fast! As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t go higher than 500 metres a day, once you’re beyond 2,000 metres above sea level.
Elevation of the 7 Lagunas de Ausangate
The highest point of the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate hike is 4,800m above sea level. Acclimatisation is key to enjoying yourself. If you’ve just arrived in Cusco, embarking on a 7 Lagunas of Ausangate tour straight away is not a good idea. Instead, spend a few days resting and start out with some lower elevation hikes or excursions to help build up your tolerance to the altitude.
Dan and I planned our trip this way and didn’t experience any altitude sickness. But, of course, this is not a guarantee. After a couple of days’ rest in Cusco, we visited Moray Inca ruins, the Salt Mines of Maras and enjoyed the Huchuy Qosqo day hike trail, all before we headed to the much higher altitudes of Ausangate and the 7 Lagunas hike.
There are other tips to help manage and reduce the chances of symptoms at high altitudes in Peru. Firstly, walk slowly and don’t rush around. Easier said than done for Dan and I as we love to speed hike. Secondly, eat lighter meals and don’t eat too quickly. Sip plenty of water throughout the day. The locals will tell you to take coca leaves, tea, or sweets. This may help with altitude too. Finally, there are altitude sickness tablets (such as Diamox) available. But, if you acclimatise properly, progressively reaching higher altitudes slowly over time, you shouldn’t need these.
When is the Best Time to Visit
The best time to hike to the 7 Lakes of Ausangate is during the dry season. In Peru, this runs from April to November. During this time, your chances of experiencing rain and other adverse weather conditions are relatively low. You’ll likely have sunnier days, where temperatures can really hot up to around 25°C. However, if conditions are cloudy, there’ll be little benefit from the sun and it can feel rather chilly. Overnight temperatures in the mountains here can be as cold as -10°C.
The very best months are June to August, but these also coincide with peak season, and therefore, more tourists. To that end, expect more visitors to the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate. But with that being said, this trail is still nowhere near as popular (yet) as other Cusco-based attractions, such as Rainbow Mountain, just over on the other side of Ausangate. So, you should still be able to hike in a relatively tranquil setting.
A visit during the wet season (November-March) means a much higher chance of rain and low clouds, obscuring your views. Not ideal to soak in the expansive vistas of Ausangate and the 7 Lagunas. Still, you might get lucky. So, if your visit to Cusco coincides with the wet season, you should definitely still go.
Remember though, mountain weather is unpredictable all year round. There’s never any guarantee of exceptional weather. Fingers crossed for your trip!
A Few Useful Things to Know
- Altitude/ Elevation: the maximum altitude reached of the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate hike is 4,800m above sea level.
- Price: There is a small price of S/10 ($2.50USD) per person* required to enter the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate.
- Pacchanta thermal pools: The thermal baths at Pacchanta cost S/5 ($1.20USD) per person*
*May or may not be included in tour price
If you’re up for more than just a day trip to the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate, then you have a few multi-day alternatives. Let’s take a look.
The 5-day Ausangate Trek is one of the greatest multi-day treks in Peru and is actually the way Dan and I experienced the 7 Lakes at Ausangate. Pacchanta is the town in which the hike finishes, and so, nearing the end of day four, you’ll pass through the trail of the 7 Lagunas. After experiencing the magnitude of Ausangate Mountain, and thoroughly enjoying the previous days hiking around this stellar mountain, ending our hike with the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate was completely fitting.
And of course, arriving back in Pacchanta to the thermal pools after a multi-day trek, I can assure you, feels even better.
In addition, by completing the Ausangate 5-day trek, you’ll see even more spectacular lakes along the trail. This, to me, is only ever going to be a good thing. In addition to the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate, Peru, you’ll also hike Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley. So, in effect, you’ll be ticking off THREE big Peru attractions on one multi-day hike. So incredible.
For information on seeing the 7 Lakes of Ausangate as part of a hiking tour around Ausangate Mountain, be sure to check out our guide, here. We detail how to hike independently or as part of a tour, a hiking itinerary; plus, lots of other useful information.
7 Lagunas of Ausangate 2-Day Trip
To really maximise your time at the Ausangate lakes, you could consider a 2-day tour of this incredible landscape. The packages offered by tour companies generally follow the same itinerary structure over two days, with two main options being offered.
Firstly, the trek could begin from Upis (the same start point as the Ausangate Trek) rather than Pacchanta. From here you’ll trek to Pacchanta, camping overnight at one of the beautiful camp spots at the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate. Alternatively, the hike might still begin from Pacchanta, and you hike the usual trail but include an overnight stay. Camping, again, is within the 7 lakes area. Both are incredible options. Camping under the monolith of Ausangate Mountain and watching the mass of stars twinkle at night is an unforgettable experience.
Where to Stay in Cusco
You’ll likely be staying in Cusco if you’re doing the hike to the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate. So, where to stay in Cusco before and after the trek? Of course, there are many options to choose from! But, to save you the headache, we’ve narrowed down the best budget, mid-range and luxury options.
- Budget – Secret Garden: a great choice for the budget traveller looking for a highly-rated dorm room. Secret Garden is conveniently located in the heart of Cusco. It’s got to be one of the best value stays in Cusco.
- Mid-range – Fiesta Inn Cusco: Dan and I had a great experience staying here. Fiesta Inn Cusco is located just outside of the city centre, so, it’s nice and quiet. There’s a buffet breakfast included, hello eggs and pancakes, and the Wifi is fantastic.
- Luxury – Cozy Room Cusco: this bed and breakfast is a fantastic option for optimal comfort and rest, with incredible views of Cusco and the surrounding mountains. This highly-rated and popular B&B has excellent facilities, including a shared lounge and terrace. Yes, there are more luxurious options. But, you’ll pay a fraction of the price at Cozy Room Cusco and have just as good an accommodation experience.
Travel insurance is a must if you’re doing high-altitude trekking in Peru, like the 7 Lakes of Ausangate.
SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Beck and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to insure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.
For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just 2–3 weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.
SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future. Use the widget below to suss out a quote today.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
You should also pack water, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat for a tour of the 7 Lagunas of Ausangate.
For a more complete hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Or, for a summary of everything you’d need for a trip to Huaraz, read our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Travel to Huaraz: if you love the 7 Lagunas de Ausangate, you’ll be blown away by the turquoise lakes dotted throughout the Cordillera Blanca on the outskirts of Huaraz. Some of our favourites include Laguna 69, Laguna Churup, Laguna 513 and Laguna Paron. Don’t miss them!
- Explore the Sacred Valley: from Cusco, exploring the Sacred Valley is an absolute must. Machu Picchu will no doubt be on your list of priorities. As well as your Machu Picchu tour, make sure to book early, online, for any (or all) of its three hiking trails – Huayna Picchu, Huchuy Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain.
- Cusco hiking: some of our favourite hikes around Cusco included Huchuy Qosqo, Choquequirao and the Salkantay Trail. The latter, of which, is a great alternative to the famous Inca Trail.
- After Cusco: From Cusco, Dan and I continued our exploration of Peru to Arequipa, Huacachina, Paracas and Lima. Be sure to stop in at the incredible Nazca Lines along the way.
Have you hiked the 7 Lagunas de Ausangate? What other beautiful lakes would you recommend in Peru? Share in the comments below.