The Faces of Ausangate

Andean Lodges: Roberto, our horseman, shows off one of his many trekking hats

As you can see from the Ausangate lodge trek post and video, our trek along the Camino del Apu Ausangate was full of natural and cultural highs. For many people, the spectacular landscapes and isolated Andean villages are reason enough to do the trek. But we also wanted to stop and reflect a bit on the unique relationship between Andean Lodges and the communities of Chillca and Osefina which greatly benefit from these treks.

Andean Lodges: A Chillca local spinning Alpaca wool into yarn

The Camino del Apu Ausangate is the brainchild of Roger Valencia, a celebrated Peruvian guide who has accompanied everyone from Bono to the Rockefellers. Roger, who has led treks and mountaineering excursions in the region for years, came up with the idea of partnering with the communities to establish a quality lodge-based trekking experience that would also provide sustainable work opportunities for locals in this isolated area. (It’s actually only about a three-hour drive from Cuzco, but for locals that’s a world away.)

Andean Lodges: Our llama driver stops for a break

In this partnership, the communities of Chillca and Osefina have a 20 percent stake in Andean Lodges. In addition, they receive a payment for each trekker that enters the area. Moreover, lodge employees, llama drivers, horsemen and cooking staff are all from local villages. To ensure quality, many staff members have been sent to Cuzco to be trained. In fact, the cooking staff was trained at Casa Andina in Cuzco, a high-end Peruvian hotel chain we worked with on several occasions. Many of the Andean Lodges employees are rotated on each trek to increase the number of families who benefit from this arrangement.

Andean Lodges: A Chillca local shows us the quality of the yarn

As we mentioned in our Ausangate Lodge Trek post, at one point during the trek, local women come to the lodge to demonstrate spinning and weaving techniques and sell their goods, another great source of income. Again, these weaving encounters are rotated between villages to maximize the benefit to local families. It’s also way cooler to buy a weaving in the shadow of a snow-capped mountain than in a tourist market, isn’t it?

Andean Lodges: Tio Mario, the last of the real Inca

The partnership with Chillca and Osefina is what gives Andean Lodges the right to construct their lodges as well as to lead treks through community grazing lands and access the unique landscapes around Vinicunca, the rainbow mountain. No other trekking companies are currently permitted to run tours in the area.

Andean Lodges: Wilma decked out in her funky walking hat

The Andean Lodges experiment is yet another interesting model which allows native communities to benefit from tourism. To put faces to the project, we’re posting a selection of pictures of local workers who made our trek possible. These are the faces of our Ausangate experience.

Andean Lodges: Our llama driver stps for a break

Andean Lodges: Shy Wilma giggles at my camera

Andean Lodges: Thomas and Roberto pause along the Camino del Apu Ausangate

Plan your Trip to Mount Ausangate

When to Go – Best time for the Ausangate lodge trek is May through September, with April and October being the shoulder seasons.

Book Your Trip – We highly recommend that you book the Ausangate lodge trek in advance. You can either contact Andean Lodges to ask for their rates and availability, or you can book this 5-day trek directly on Viator.

Accommodation – Most visitors stay in vibrant Cuzco or relaxed Ollantaytambo before or after their Ausangate lodge trek. Both towns are a great base for exploring the gorgeous Sacred Valley; in addition, they have plenty of accommodation options. To find great hotel deals, check out Hotelscombined.com, a site which offers the best deals across numerous top hotel booking sites.

Guidebooks – We normally travel with a Lonely Planet guide book. During our six months in Peru, we used the Lonely Planet Peru guidebook and quite liked it. It’s great for cultural and historical info, hiking tours, maps, itineraries, and also includes highlights such as Lake Titicaca, the Peruvian Amazon, the Salkantay trek, Machu Picchu, Colca Canyon, and many others. For a more visual guidebook, we recommend the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Peru. The guidebooks can be conveniently purchased on Amazon.

Travel Gear – One piece of equipment we highly recommend for exploring Southern Peru is an action camera such as the GoPro to capture everything on film. We also recommend a comfortable pair of hiking socks and good trekking poles; they will be one of your best investments for your knees and back. And since you will be trekking with poles, a GoPro head strap may be useful.

Disclosure: While doing the Ausangate trek, we were guests of Andean Lodges. However, all of the opinions expressed here are our own. In addition, the article contains links that help us earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

12 responses to “The Faces of Ausangate”

  1. avatar Meryl says:

    These people are so beautiful.

  2. avatar Bama says:

    It’s good to know how local people benefit from tourism industry, as The Andean Lodges seem to manage to do quite well. Love the expressions of the locals as such is often proves to be one of the highlights of any travels.

  3. avatar Sharine says:

    This post makes me feel a little better about the tourist industry.

  4. avatar Nathaniel Demit says:

    But are they paid well?

    • avatar Tony says:

      @Nathaniel,
      Honestly, I don’t really know how well they are paid. There were several comments that led me to believe they were getting what they considered to be good wages. Many people seemed eager to work for Andean Lodges. And I also got the sense that they perceived the lodge work to be easier than trying to make a living from raising alpacas or whatever other opportunities might exist in their villages. From my interaction with Tio Mario, who I mention in the posts, he appeared to be VERY proud of his job, so that leads me to believe the wages are fair.

  5. avatar Shan in the mountains says:

    Do all the people wear traditional clothing in Ausangate? Many of the places I visited in Peru the people wore normal clothes.

    • avatar Tony says:

      @Shan in the Mountains,

      Most of the women we saw (and many of the men) wore traditional clothing in the villages along the trek as well as in villages along higher sections of the road leading to the trek starting point. In the Cuzco region, clothing seemed to be directly related to altitude.

  6. avatar Janine B says:

    I found your pictures on Instagram under #adventure. You really have had some amazing adventures. Is there a way to find all of your trek posts?

    • avatar Tony says:

      @Janine,
      The best way to explore our adventures is to browse our Adventure category. We have also been talking about making a trekking page. Hopefully, we can put that together in the near future.

  7. avatar Sheila Ashley says:

    I took the 5day/4night Camino del Ausangate trip in April of 2014. I can’t recommend it enough. I did a similar one In 1989. This Andean Lodges one offers an experience of a lifetime. I hope to go again! I can’t recommend it highly enough. You will not regret your time here!

  8. avatar Terri says:

    Beautiful photos and people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *