The Ultimate Guide to 7 Lakes of Ausangate + Tips! (2024)

Looking for beautiful mountain views without the touristy crowds of Machu Picchu or Humantay Lake? 7 Lakes of Ausangate is one of my favorite day trips from Cusco!

I had the opportunity to live in Cusco for 6 weeks, so I spent a lot of time exploring the surrounding areas. I pretty much spent my weekends on day trips to the mountains and weekdays exploring the city of Cusco. From all the adventures, I can confidently say that 7 Lakes of Ausangate was one of my favorites.

In this post, I will explain exactly what to expect out of your trip to the 7 Lakes of Ausangate, including how to get there, what to expect from the hike, what you should pack, and more!

7 lakes of ausangate - big mountain with turquoise blue lake
7 Lakes of Ausangate

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

The Ultimate Guide To 7 Lakes of Ausangate in Cusco, Peru

Where are the 7 Lakes of Ausangate?

The 7 Lakes of Ausangate are 48 miles (78 km) southeast of the city center of Cusco. It’s short in distance, but takes about 3 hours to drive here because of the curvy roads in between. 

The 7 Lakes of Ausangate are part of the impressive Andes Mountain range, and these mountains are no joke. The roads are steep and windy almost the entire way there. If you get motion sickness, it’s a good idea to sit near the front of the bus and have medication on you.

Speaking of which, these mountains are advised to visit once you’ve spent a few days in Cusco acclimatizing to the altitude. Due to the elevation of the lakes, it’s best to take it easy!

mountains and beautiful lake with clouds

Also, the 7 Lakes of Ausangate are located in the same direction as the popular Rainbow Mountain. It’s impossible to combine these on a day trip because of the way the road is laid out, but they sit very close together.

However, the drive is absolutely gorgeous. During your 3 hour drive, you windy through passes in the mountains from the bottom of the valley to the top of the peaks. It’s really an incredible drive. But more on that later.

How do you get to 7 Lakes of Ausangate?

There are only two ways to get to 7 Lakes of Ausangate, driving yourself or booking a tour. However, I would strongly recommend booking a tour. 

If you want to drive yourself, you will want to be prepared for steep and windy roads as well as dirt roads. It really is not for the faint of heart and I would not recommend it.

There are a few tours that run to 7 Lakes of Ausangate, but not nearly as many as a popular spot like Rainbow Mountain. Personally, I did a tour through this company, and I thought it was a nice tour. I will go over the play-by-play of the tour later.

It’s less popular with tourists, which I think really makes it great. You won’t be fighting crowds for pictures or passing by hundreds of people on the hike. 

Unfortunately, there is no way on public transportation to the 7 Lakes of Ausangate, it remains a very remote location. Which, I definitely think adds to the charm of this trip. Can you tell I really love it here?

hiking trail in peru with mountains and donkeys
7 Lakes of Ausangate Hiking Trail

When is the best time to visit 7 Lakes of Ausangate?

The best time to visit the 7 Lakes of Ausangate is during the dry season, from May-October. During these months you are mostly likely to get the best weather. However, during these months it’s also the coldest. This is during the winter season for Peru, so it’s important to pack warm clothes with a lot of layers!

This is one of the only seasonal tours around Cusco, operators don’t run it during the rainy season because the trail becomes quite muddy and slippery. The rain also usually blocks most of the mountain views too.

However, I went to 7 Lakes of Ausangate in the shoulder season, in early November and I had a good experience. We had great weather to start and then halfway through the hike it began to rain and become muddy. But, if they offer the tour, it means it’s suitable to go!

cloudy weather in the mountains on a lake

7 Lakes of Ausangate Hike

Now, let’s get into what to expect from your day trip to 7 Lakes of Ausangate. I’ll walk you through exactly what my day trip was like, so you know exactly what to expect from your adventure!

I booked my tour through Machu Picchu Reservations and thought it was pretty well organized overall. Although, If you find a tour company you prefer, that would work too. Once you arrive in Cusco, there are many companies you can ask about this tour though.

My visit was in mid-November, which really wasn’t recommended. November is the shoulder season, so the weather can be quite unpredictable.

If you want to visit 7 Lakes of Ausangate, it is best to visit between May-October, in the dry season.

Anyways, let’s talk about the drive.

If you are prone to motion sickness, I really recommend bringing medication to help you. I actually swear by MotionEaze, but many others take tablets or other remedies. The roads are very curvy and steep, the drivers are known to be a bit wreckless.

The tour will pick you up early in the morning – I mean super early, like 4am. From here you will exit Cusco and head towards the mountains.

The drive is an absolutely beautiful 3 hours drive through the Andes Mountains. Although many people choose to take a nap in the car, I really loved looking out the window. The views along the way are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

During the ride, you will stop one for a bathroom/rest stop. Other than that, they are on a tight schedule so there are limited stops.

hiking trail at 7 lakes of ausangate with snow capped mountains in the distance

Once you arrive, you will find yourself in the small town of Tinki. Tinki is just a few buildings at the base of the 7 Lakes of Ausangate. You won’t find much here other than toilets, hot springs, and a place to have breakfast/lunch.

After disembarking the bus, you’ll head inside a building for breakfast. The breakfast buffet was quite nice and also served many traditional Peruvian foods.

After breakfast, it’s time to start hiking!

The hike is 8 miles, 13 km, and begins with a slow incline. It may not be the biggest incline, but because of the elevation you will feel it. It’s best to take it slow and drink water. The path is well maintained, although it can get muddy in the rain.

During your hike up, you will begin on a dirt path with some nice views of mountains. However, as you journey farther in you will reach beautiful snow-capped mountains. I cannot get enough of these views! These mountains are just incredible.

field with green grass and snow capped Andes Mountains at 7 lakes of Ausangate

**If the hike is proving to be too much for you, there are horses you can rent to take you the rest of the way up! Don’t be afraid to use the horses, many travelers do!

Once you are up the hill, the rest of the hike is relatively flat and this is where the views and pictures are taken from! From here, you will find all the beautiful lakes and picture opportunities.

It’s really hard to put into words the beauty of 7 Lakes of Ausangate. What I really loved about it was the lack of crowds. It’s not nearly as crowded as the other tourist attractions, giving you a lot of space in nature. 

It’s truly so peaceful.

Anyways, once you are finished it’s time to turn around at go home. The way back, you should mostly be on the same path as you took up, although there are a few different paths. They all lead to the same place.

7 lakes of ausangate elevation sign

You will end your hike, many hours later, with a delicious lunch in the same building you had breakfast. Once again, I thought it was a pretty good spread of food, all things considered. Plus, after hiking for 8 miles, I was happy eating almost anything.

From this point, you can choose if you are ready to head back to Cusco or if you want to visit the Hot Springs. Although I did not pack my swimsuit, I heard the hot springs are very clean and worth visiting. Next time, I will pack a swimsuit!

The day trip is a long one, and once you finish lunch, it’s likely it’s almost sunset. You’ll spend the 3 hours driving back mostly in the dark and arrive in Cusco around dinner time.

It’s a long day, but also a very magical one. I really enjoyed my day trip to 7 Lakes of Ausangate.

What to Pack for 7 Lakes of Ausangate Day Trip from Cusco

When packing for 7 Lakes of Ausangate, it’s important to pack layers. You will be hiking at 13,500 feet (4,100 m) and it gets cold up there! 

Here’s everything you need to pack for 7 Lakes of Ausangate

  • Water – Let’s start with the basics, water. The elevation is high and the hike is long, so it’s important to pack water. Although you can buy it upon arrival, it will be cheaper to pack it yourself.
  • Layers – Pack ALLLL the layers! 7 Lakes of Ausangate weather is very unpredictable. When the sun is out, it gets hot – like really hot. And when the clouds roll in and the rain comes, it gets pretty chill. Up in the mountains, it’s pretty unpredictable. I’d recommend brining your biggest coat and your lightest t shirt. I ended up wearing my short sleeves and sweating to being freezing in a hail storm 20 minutes later!
  • Good hiking shoes – Or at least shoes you don’t mind getting muddy. As I mentioned, it can go from sunny to raining really quick here, and if it rains the trail gets muddy. There are also a lot of little stones in the middle of the trail that would be pretty easy to trip on if you are not careful. Although the hike is not technical, it’s will do you good to bring some good hiking shoes
  • Swimsuit and towel – There are hot springs in the town the van will park. If you feel inclined, the hot springs are a really nice way to refresh yourself after your long trek through the mountains.

7 lakes of ausangate altitude sign with lake and mountains in background

Ausangate Trek 5 Days

If you have more than 1 day and are up for an epic adventure, consider the Ausangate Trek 5 Days. It’s a bit more off the beaten path than the famous Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek, but it is also known to be one of the best treks in the world. This trek takes visitors from Cusco, around Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain with incredible views. Although I did not do this one myself, It looks really beautiful.

7 lakes of ausangate hiking trail in peru

Final Thoughts on 7 Lakes of Ausangate

The 7 Lakes of Ausangate day trip from Cusco is one of my favorite ones! The lack of crowds and beautiful views are worth the visit alone. If you want to spend time in nature and get off the beaten path, this is the trip for you. It’s a great alternative to Humantay Lake, and in my opinion a very similar experience, except this one is better.

I sincerely hope this guide helps you when planning your trip to 7 Lakes of Ausantage. Have you booked your trip yet? Let me know!

7 lakes of ausangate - big mountain with turquoise blue lake

I’m Danika! A travel obsessed, Disney adult, with a knack for budgeting.

In 2020 I was furlough from my “dream” job at Disney and have pursued my first love of travel ever since. I have traveled to 33 states and 28 countries spanning 5 continents.

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