Mountain Ecosystems

The Apu Ausangate’s main ecosystem is called “puna” and starts from 3,800 m. above sea level up. This is a landscape with scarce vegetation, a cold and dry climate with strong ice-cold winds coming down from glaciers, which produce low temperatures, while solar exposure is greater and more powerful, at that altitude.

As the snow and ice on Mount Ausangate´s glacier thaw, pure crystalline water runs down the mountain´s Western flank, originating thus the Vilcanota River´s headwaters, which, later on, throws itself into the great Amazon River.

In the meantime, the Apu´s Eastern slopes feed several small rivers that throw themselves into the Inambari River, and towards the South, the great snow-capped mountain´s run-off waters become part of the Azangaro River that runs all the way to Lake Titicaca.

The ecosystem formed around the glacier is composed of “bofedales” or wetlands, grassland, altitude hay fields, brushwood and lagoons which are the habitat of different endemic and migratory animal species. Nevertheless, the “bofedal” wetlands are the most important ecosystem, as they act as great soft water reservoirs and carbon drains. In addition, the Apu is the source of water and food for the local shepherds´ lamas and alpacas.


The Sacred Mountain´s surroundings shelter about 110 endemic bird species, like the Andean Goose, Condor and Giant Hummingbird, as well as different duck species, among other migratory species that temporarily live on and around altitude lakes and wetlands.

There also are 13 species of mammals, like foxes, vicuñas and vizcachas, among which the Andean Cat stands out, the population of which has been reduced to just about 1,500 individuals dispersed throughout the Andes.


Together with the community of Chillca, we are involved in an official recognition process of a Private Conservation Area, on the Apu Ausangate´s foothills, in the aim of conserving local flora and avoiding the degradation of fauna and landscapes, as well as promoting rural community tourism and the community´s sustainable development.

Visit our picture gallery, to discover this ecosystem.


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