Apu Ausangate under his own lens

Terra Explorer
December 21, 2020

Interview with Javier Schiaffino.


It is a magical feeling to be immersed for three days in the middle of the mountains, turquoise lagoons, and viewpoints overlooking the snowy Ausangate mountain while walking along paths that connect communities where time seems to have stopped.


A few years ago, Javier Schiaffino, better known as Wachi, a good friend and incredible photographer, joined us on an exploration trip to one of Terra Explorer‘s favorite trails.


The longing to get closer to the mountains motivated us to interview him so that we could once again remember and feel the fresh air of this snow-capped mountain through his memories. 



1. What were the first words that came to your mind when they said to you: “Wachi! Let’s go to Ausangate with Piero!”


I had just arrived in Cusco at that time. I was very grateful for the opportunity, knowing that Ausangate is such an important Apu. Thanks to you, I had my first approach to the audiovisual world in Cusco. 


2. What feeling did you get from exploring routes that are only traveled by local people?


It is undoubtedly a unique experience. Having the opportunity to walk with local people and listen to their stories and anecdotes about their families and ancestors is priceless.


The fact that you won’t see other groups of travelers or campsites during the entire trek makes you feel like it’s just you and the mighty mountain.



3. How would you summarize your experience photographing the Ausangate route with Terra Explorer?


Intense, high, and comfortable.


The trail is amazing, especially for those who like nature photography. The sunrises and sunsets invited me to take out my camera and especially the drone at all times.


Terra Explorer‘s team saved me from the cold. I thought I would freeze at night because I wasn’t prepared in terms of personal equipment. I did not imagine that we would have advanced mountain tents and sleepings, the same ones used in the Everest base camps. I jokingly told Santiago Ibañez, friend and guide of Terra Explorer: “if it weren’t for the Terra Explorer team, we would be frozen.”


It was a great experience. I learned that you can achieve your goals if you set your mind to it. In fact, it was a challenge for me because going meant not smoking cigarettes, something that I have a hard time giving up. The group we were with, both guests and guides, none smoked. Before starting the trek, I left my cigarettes at Piero’s house, and it was a great challenge to endure those days. A challenge accomplished!


4. What feeling did you get from trekking with our field staff?


Incredible staff, all with accurate information, knowing where we were going, where we were standing, from the chef to the guides. Always with a sense of humor.


I was photographing the scene from behind, like a spectator, and I saw the operation details all the way. Everything was very organized. I felt safe at all times, seeing that everyone had their radios, satellite phones, excellent equipment, etc.


5. What did you like the most about that trek?


Hiking a mountain pass over 5000 meters above sea level, crossing through lagoons, to a separate area where I could fly the drone from very high up. The feeling of being on top of the world and then returning to where you were before feels very rewarding. Photographically amazing. Stepping on top of ice for the first time was one of the best parts of the trip.


We were with a porter who was riding a donkey; I became friends with him there. He is originally from the area and was helping carry the supplies and equipment. I walked to the open with him, and it was fascinating to share and make videos with a person who is from there, who sees everything in a different and unique way.


Being able to reach the top was definitely what I liked the most!



What does Terra Explorer offer you?


Piero Vellutino, the founder of Terra Explorer, spent months exploring the snowy Ausangate area to offer a unique and different hike. The purpose was to be able to feel the energy of the mountain in all its splendor.


We will only share the journey with local people who live in communities, traveling with them along the same roads that their ancestors walked.


We wanted to make a hike accessible to everyone; that’s why we will walk a maximum of three hours a day. You will enjoy every step, and then you will rest in a luxury campsite.


Three days of hiking and spectacular camps will make you forget about everyday life and become one with the nature surrounding you.


Now that you know more about our Ausangate trek, do you dare to join this excursion that we offer? In Terra Explorer, we have different itineraries for you. You can find the details of this here. If you want to know Peru in an authentic way and through adventure tourism, get in touch with us, and we will help you design the trip of your dreams!

portada blog terra

Related news

Previous Post

Discover the Apurimac River

Next Post

Seasoned Hikers on What to Pack for Machu Picchu’s Inca Trail