The mountainous geography of Cusco offers some of the most amazing landscapes in Peru such as imposing snow-capped mountains, green valleys, mighty rivers and impressive lagoons. To the south of the region, under the surveillance of the snowy Ausangate, is the so-called ‘Circuit of the 7 lagoons’. As its name indicates, this natural area runs through seven lagoons with transparent waters. There it is possible to get some of the best photographs of the trip. The best way to go is with an all-inclusive tour.
- What are they?
- Where are they located?
- How to get?
- Map to get to the 7 Lagoons
- The snowy Ausangate
- Circuit of the 7 lagoons
- Wildlife in the lagoons
- Tour to the 7 lagoons
- How to go on my own?
- Photos of the place
- The thermal baths of Pacchanta
- Some advices
7 lagoons – Ausangate
What are they?
The set of lagoons that make up this tourist attraction are fed by the thaw of the immense Ausangate snow-capped mountain, the highest in Cusco (whose summit reaches 6,384 meters above sea level). The local peoples decided to take advantage of the natural beauty of the place to create a circuit of 7 lagoons that are: the Pucacocha lagoon, the Patacocha lagoon, the Alqacocha lagoon, the Qomercocha lagoon, the orco otorongo lagoon, the Chinese otorongo lagoon and the blue lagoon cocha.
Where are they located?
The circuit of the 7 lagoons is located approximately 100 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. It belongs to the province of Quispicanchis, in the town of Pacchanta.The town is 4,200 meters above sea level. At the top, the Ausangate mountain stands out, which provides water to the lagoons.
How to get?
The best way to go is through an all-inclusive tour to the 7 lagoons of Cusco. If you decide to go on your own, you must take a public transport to the town of Tinke (just 9 kilometers from the Ocongate district). Once there you must take a ‘collective taxi’ to the town of Pacchanta. The 2-hour walk begins there, touring the ‘Circuit’.
Map to get to the 7 Lagoons
The snowy Ausangate
Ausangate is the second highest mountain in Cusco (and the fifth largest in Peru). Its summit reaches 6,385 meters above sea level. It is approximately 100 kilometers from the city of Cusco. It belongs to the Cordillera del Vilcanota, a characteristic geography of colorful mountains and pure-water lagoons. Perhaps the most famous attraction of the place is Vinicunca, mountain 7 colors.
The waters of the Ausangate mountain feed the lagoons that are distributed around it. From each of the lagoons of this tourist circuit, part of the immense snow can be seen. For the Incas, Ausangate was sacred. He was a divine being that ruled the life and death of people. Many of these beliefs are still preserved today.The people of Cusco bow humbly before each mountain, just as their Inca ancestors did.
Circuit of the 7 lagoons
Pucacocha lagoon – The first lagoon of the circuit, which is also known as the chocolate lagoon. This is due to the color of its waters, similar to that of chocolate. It is approximately 4,500 meters above sea level.
Patacocha lagoon – The next lagoon is approximately 4,860 meters above sea level. Its waters are clearer. The Ausangate mountain can be seen more clearly than in the first lagoon.
Alqacocha lagoon – This lagoon is located approximately 4,750 meters above sea level. Due to the altitude, the cold begins to descend. Each lagoon has a spectacular view of the snow-capped mountain and the Vilcanota mountain range.
Qomercocha lagoon – The next lagoon in the circuit has a name that, translated from Quechua to Spanish, means ‘Green Lagoon’. Its name is due to the turquoise color of its waters. It is 4,666 meters above sea level. It has one of the best views of the place.
Orco otorongo lagoon – This small lagoon, due to its shape and surrounding landscape, has the shape and fur (the spots) of an otorongo, a feline that inhabits the jungles of America. The lagoon is located 4,620 meters above sea level. Its name refers to the male otorongo.
China otorongo lagoon – Near the previous lagoon is the ‘china otorongo’ lagoon, which refers to the female of this American feline. The panoramic views of both lagoons are impressive. They are ideal for taking pictures.
Azul cocha lagoon – The last of the circuit of the 7 lagoons has a dark blue color of its waters. The beauty of this lagoon, as well as its surrounding mountainous landscape, is highly appreciated by tourists who often take their photos here.
Wildlife in the lagoons
The circuit of the 7 lagoons, and the Vilcanota mountain range, is home to several species of wild and domesticated animals.It should be noted, first of all, the presence of camelids such as the llama and the alpaca (both domestic animals) as well as the vicuña, a wild species with extremely valuable fur. They usually graze in the immense expanses of icchu, or wild straw of the Andes. It should be noted the existence of other species such as the vizcacha (a rabbit-like rodent) and even the Andean condor.
Tour to the 7 lagoons
The tour to the 7 lagoons includes a 1-day visit to this beautiful circuit on the slopes of Ausangate.The service includes: full transportation, breakfast, lunch, tour guide service and entrance to the circuit. The tour can be contracted with any tourism agency in Cusco, either online or in person. The cost varies from $ 30 to $ 60 per person. Despite the beauty of the place, there are still not many visitors who dare to take this tour.
How to go on my own?
To go by your account you must follow the following steps:
- Leave Cusco very early (6 am, approximately) to board a public transport to the town of Ocongate. The buses are taken from Huayruropata avenue.
- After almost 2 hours of travel you should take the opportunity to have breakfast in Ocongate.
- You must immediately get a public transport (or collective taxi) to the town of Tinke, located only 9 kilometers away.
- From there you must board a ‘taxi’ or ‘collective taxi’ to the town of Pacchanta.
- In Pacchanta you must pay 10 Peruvian soles (3 dollars) to enter the ‘Circuit of the 7 lagoons’.
- The rest is walking and exploring the lagoons.
- The return is by the same way of going of the trip.
The thermal baths of Pacchanta
The town of Pacchanta offers one of the most famous thermal baths in Cusco. These receive the hot waters of the snowy Ausangate itself. It has only two water wells with temperatures that vary from 40ºC. The wonder of the place are the views towards the snowy Ausangate. The price of the entrance ticket is only 5 Peruvian soles (2 dollars, approximately). It has dressing rooms, sale of snacks, drinks and bathrooms.
The weather in Pacchanta and in the 7 lagoons circuit is cold, especially at night when the temperature can drop to -5ºC. During your visit, do not forget to bring warm clothing in layers: first a polo shirt, then a sweater and finally a jacket.
Due to the altitude at which you will find yourself (always above 4 thousand meters above sea level), you may suffer some symptoms of altitude sickness, such as nausea, fatigue or headache. To reduce these natural symptoms, you can drink plenty of water (especially coca leaf infusions) and avoid high-fat foods.
If you like high Andean landscapes such as the 7 lagoons circuit, you can also visit other similar tourist attractions, such as the Humantay lagoon or the mountain of the 7 colors. Both are some of the best tourist destinations in Cusco.
By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, May 13, 2021