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Nevado Ausangate & The Cordillera Vilcanota

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Located 100km E/SE of Cusco, the Cordillera Vilcanota is a striking mountain range extending approximately 50km east to west and 20km north to south. Bordering to the north and east the land quickly drops into lowland amazon jungle, to the southeast, south and west extends the vast altiplano of southern Peru. Among the several 6,000m peaks, Nevado Ausangate crowns the eastern extremity of the range at 6,384m and can be seen towering on the horizon from many places in Cusco.

There are 3 types of service for the route:

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The valleys through the range have been shaped by thousands of years of glacial erosion, which has also formed hundreds of blue-green lagoons at altitudes of more than 4,300m. The geology of the area mainly consists of dark, eroded volcanic rock. Also, continued geothermal activity has formed several hot springs in certain areas. In the South American winter, the dry season comes to Peru allowing for sustained periods of dry, clear, sunny weather. Under these conditions the glaciers become hard as the loose snow melts off, and in the months of June, July and August yield conditions perfect for climbing.

The flora and fauna of the region are highly specialized and adapted, due to the harsh conditions of the environment. At night, temperatures drop causing the ground to freeze and as the sun rises it can be 30 degrees Celsius by 10am. The flora consists of mosses, grasses, cactuses, shrubs and some wildflowers that grow close to the ground. Aside from the grazing alpacas owned by the pastoral communities, many of the rarer vicuñas can be seen in this area. Other animals include: viscachas, deer, pumas, foxes, condors, eagles, falcons, songbirds and also trout in certain lagoons.

Along with Ausangate, Nevados Callangate and Colque Cruz are considered "Apus" by the local Qechua speaking people. "Apu" in Qechua is translated as a "sacred place or mountain", a place with connection to the Gods, or even the Gods of the Incas themselves. The rural community of Pacchanta (4,236m) is the central entrance point into the range. The economy of the people is based on alpaca herding, growing potatoes, weaving textiles and to some extent tourism, due to the trek "Ausangate Circuit" which usually spends a night at the thermal baths located in Pacchanta.

For the moment these mountains are traveled very little. A climber can enjoy the isolation that may not be found in many base camps of the Cordillera Blanca. The close proximity to Cusco (4hrs) offers a traveler the perfect opportunity to experience high alpine scenery and compliment their visit to Machu Picchu. Come see and climb the wild, natural beauty that the Cordillera Vilcanota has to offer.

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