You may not have heard as much about the Ancascocha Trail as you have about other famous areas in Peru, but that should not put you off. On the contrary, you might want to consider the fact that it is off the beaten track and therefore you will find yourself among big crowds of people; it will be more like you have this place all to yourself.
But don´t take our word for it: you can tune in to National Geographicwho named this as one of 20 dream hikes on their World Best Hikes list. If you decide to trek this way, you will not be disappointed: you will have a guided tour of several Inca ruins, you will wander through remote fincas and pass through traditional Andean villages. But of course, the main reason excited tourists choose this trek is for the marvelous views of the solemn Andean Mountains.
In order for you to choose wisely, we will further make a detailed comparison of the three main Ancascocha trails, keeping in mind the main points that would interest you and that would influence your choice.
1). Time. This is one of the things most people take in consideration when deciding on an option for a trek. There are people who enjoy taking their time, patiently and slowly exploring new areas, archeological ruins and just being in the middle of nature. Then there are those who don´t care much for being in a place for too long, albeit an amazing place that they´ve dreamed about visiting; they just don´t have the patience to roam endlessly.
For the first group of people, the second option, Ancascocha Trek to Machu Picchu 5D/4N or the third one, Ancascocha Trek to Machu Picchu via Salkantay would be more advisable. During the first one I mentioned, one would be able to take their time, exploring throughout 5 days amazing sites, as Quesqa or Ancascocha villages, have the chance to climb to Huayanay Pass and admire the towering Apu Salkantay Mountain, not to mention the Sacred Valley town of Ollantaytambo. During the second option I mentioned you also see the same villages, then reach Incachiriasca pass; during the first day you will also see Humantay Lagoon and in the second, Pampa Japonesa.
On the other hand, the first option for this tour offers only 4 days a trekking, which means everything happens faster, and this tour would suit someone who is not interested in taking it easy, but rather in doing everything at a fast pace, while still seeing wonderful places, such as Quesqa and Ancascocha Andean villages, Huayanay Pass and Salkantay.
2). Physical strength. First of all, don’t worry thinking you have to be a world-class athlete in order to do any of these treks. Although it does help to be in a good physical condition, none of them are dangerous or extremely challenging and all you need is the drive you surely already have to discover amazing places. But in this case also, we can recommend a different trek according to your own personal style.
For those with a lot of energy, who consider themselves athletic and would rather do things in a speedy way, we suggest you choose the first option, Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu 4D/3N. This way you get to see enough lovely places, like Andean villages and you get to test your strength by reaching the highest point at the Huayanay Pass (4,650 m/15,255 ft) and also bask in the beauty of the panoramic views across the Andes, cascading waterfalls, crystal blue lakes and the towering 20,557-foot (6,266 m) Salkantay mountain. You will do all this in a fun and adventurous way and at a fast pace.
On the other hand, if you would like to take your time, while exploring as many beautiful views, you can go for the second option, the Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu 5D/4N or the last option, the Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu via Salkantay. They will both go at a slower pace, and are suitable for the traveler that wants to take it all in slowly.
3).Number of historical places/beautiful views. All three treks have got a number of amazing views; all take you through traditional Andean villages, such as Quesqa and the trail’s namesake Ancascocha, and offer spectacular views across the mountains, beautiful clear blue lakes and raging waterfalls, with the towering 6,266m (20,551 ft.) Apu Salkantay frequently dominating the skyline.
However, there are views you can only experience by going on a certain trek. For example, you will only be able to experience the view from Huayanay Pass on the first trek, Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu 4D/3N, or in the second trek, Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu 5D/4N- which will be a wonderful reward for you staggering efforts. In the same way, you will only be able to admire the panoramic view of Incachiriasca pass on the third trek option, Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu via Salkantay.
Moreover, on your final day of hiking the first and second trek, Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu 4D/3N and 5D/4N, you will be on a portion of the Classic Inca Trail (the one that gets booked up a year in advance!) After 2 and 3 days of solitude, you may well be surprised to see so many other hikers; but don’t worry, they are going in the other direction!
4). Comfort. First of all, it is quite probable that not many of the people interested in this kind of trail have comfort as the main condition on their list. Since all these treks mean 4 or 5 days of trekking, one can imagine comfort is not going to be at its highest- long hikes, climbing and descending, which can be tiring, but extremely rewarding as well.
However, our agency will make sure you get all the comfort possible in these conditions. For all these trek options you get an inflatable mattress and a pillow, a high quality 4-person tent for 2 people, kitchen tent, dining tent, portable eco-friendly toilet, professional chef, horses to carry equipment, hot water, daily morning boiled and cold water, emergency oxygen bottle and medical kit. All this being said, we can still say that the second and third option, Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu 5D/4N, respectively Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu via Salkantay will be a bit more comfortable and not as challenging as the first trek, Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu 4D/3N, simply because this latter one has, as we’ve noted before, a faster pace. This it could make you tired faster or challenge your physical strength more than the other ones.
5). Peacefulness vs. Liveliness. While all three of these trekking options give you a wide portion of the way that offer peacefulness and basking in the arms of nature, from the Huaynay Pass(4,650 m/15,255 ft) – where you are at the highest point of Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu 4D/3N or Ancascocha trail to Machu Picchu 5D/4N, to the highest point of the third trek, Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu via Salkantay- Inkachiriasca pass (4,960 m/16,272 ft.), that will offer you panoramic views across the snow-covered peaks of the Andes, cascading waterfalls, crystal blue lakes and the towering 20,551 foot (6,266 m) Apu Salkantay, we can still note a difference concerning this point between the three treks.
Since Ancascocha trail is still quite unknown to most tourists, as we have told you, you will find peace and serenity in any of the three treks you might choose. However, the second option, Ancascocha trail to Machu Picchu 5D/4N you will be walking on a portion of the Classic Inca Trail, the one that a lot of people follow. This is the only part of any Ancascocha trail where you might see crowds of people and wake you up from the stillness of nature. But don’t worry though! They will all be heading in the other direction and you will have nature’s serenity all to yourself once again.
In conclusion, the Ancascocha Trail in the Peruvian Andes is a remarkable trail that, unlike other more popular trails, remains off the beaten track and away from crowds. Yet don’t be put off by its lesser known status. On the contrary, you can be excited you are exploring horizons many tourists do not know of and cherish the peacefulness and majesty of nature. Whatever your desires and priorities will be in choosing the trek, we have the right one for you!