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7 Lakes Full-Day Trek at Ausangate

May 3, 2024
7 Lakes Full-Day Trek - 69explorer

One of the lesser-known hikes in the region the 7 lakes hike takes you to high altitudes starting at 4300m (14208ft) with the highest point reaching 4770m (15 650ft). On the hike you’ll journey through pristine mountain landscapes, cross beautiful rivers, pass by Quechua communities with alpaca and llama herds grazing in the mountain valleys all the while in the shadow of the impressive and sacred Mount Ausangate. Be prepared for the high elevation and take it slow. The 7 lakes full-day trek is moderate to difficult and your body will definitely feel it towards the end of the hike. Luckily, at the end of the hike, you’ll have the opportunity to soak your tired bones in the medicinal hot springs of Pacchanta. So, if you arelooking for a rewarding alpine lake hike that takes you to multiple lakes and gets you away from the crowds this is the tour for you!

Itinerary for the 7 Lakes trek at Ausanagte

Cusco – Pacchanta – 7 Lakes Circuit – Cusco

Be prepared to wake up early. Your guide will be picking you up from your hotel at 3:00 am! From Cusco you’ll start the 3-and-a-half-hour drive in a private van to the small Quechua village of Pacchanta where the trail starts. At the trailhead you’ll have a hearty breakfast cooked by a private chef. Once you’ve fueled up on the tasty breakfast get started on the hike.

7 Lakes Circuit

Azul Qocha: The first lake of the hike,this lake gets its name from the vibrant blue color of its waters. Residing at (4 550m (14 928ft) above sea level this is the lowest lake of the entire hike.

Orqo Otorongo Qocha: Descend to the next lake which is at 4570m (14 993ft). Meaning male jaguar Orqo Otorongo Qocha is said to resemble a jaguar. This is also small lake but, fairly deep considering the size. 

Oqe Qocha: The next lake on the trail is called Oqe Qocha which means Lead Lake and has a greyish hue from which it gets its name. Oqe Qocha is a bit lower than the lake before at 4620m (15157ft) and also a bit smaller. Take in the great views and snap some pictures with snowy mountain peaks towering in the background.

Jatun Pucacocha: Start the gradual ascent to lake Jatun Pucacocha meaning “Big Red Lake” in Quechua. Pucacocha gets its name from the red collored soil along its shores. This is the biggest lake on the trek and the highest point at 4756m (15604ft).

Alqa Cocha: Relatively the same altitude as the lake before at 4752m (15590) Alqa Cocha can be cold. Make sure to have warm clothes with you and to take it easy the last thing you want is to be affected by the altitude and get sick.

Chuño: Climb up to the next lake called Chuño Lake which is a bit higher than the lake before at (4770m/ 15 650ft). Said to have been used for the irrigation of potatoes, the ancestral peoples of this region named this lake after the dried Andean potato called Chuño.

China Otorongo Qocha: Continue to China Otorongo Qocha lake 4600m (15092ft) which name means female jaguar. More of a pond than a lake, China Otorongo Qocha is very small but, has a beautiful turquoise color and its waters are always crystal clear.

*** PLEASE NOTE: The trail just before getting to the first lake is a loop. Depending on which way you go the order of lakes can be reversed.

Pacchanta Hotsprings

After completing the hike and seeing all of the 7 lakes you’ll return back to the Andean community of Pacchanta. Here you’ll have the chance to soak in the natural mineral hot springs. Enjoy the amazing view of Mount Ausangate as you soak your tired muscles and enjoy a drink. After a nice soak your private chef will call you for lunch then you’ll take the private van back to Cusco and your hotel.

***PLEASE NOTE: The entry for the hot springs costs 5 soles per person is not usually included in the tour price. You will need to pay the entry yourself

Fauna of the 7 Lakes Trek

The Andes mountains have a diverse variety of unique plants and animals while you’re on the hike keep your eyes peeled and ask your guide any questions you may have.

Vizcacha: A small rodent that is something between a hare and a chinchilla these animals make their homes in the rock fields of the Andes.

Llama: The world-famous llama calls this region home. You’ll see them graving in the mountain valleys often times accompanied by their shepherd.

Alpaca: Much like the llama this is a domesticated animal that you’ll see roaming the landscapes along llamas and local shepherds.

Vicuña: Similar to the llama and alpaca the Vicuña lives wild in the surrounding region and lakes of Ausangate.

Packing List

You’ll want to be prepared for this hike even though it’s just a day trip it’s important to have everything you need.

Ausangate is one of the most sacred and respected mountains in the Cusco region. Hiking the 7 lakes is a great way to familiarize your self with the area and with Mount Ausangate. If your someone who likes pure nature and specifically alpine lakes wildernesses this is a great day hike for you!