Rainbow Mountain Peru: All you need to know before your trek
Rainbow Mountain Cusco Peru, locally known as Vinicunca (its Quechua name) or the montaña de siete colores (seven-colored mountain), is a must-see for anyone who appreciates breathtaking sceneries and beautiful scenery. Nestled in a remote corner of the Andes Mountains, Rainbow Mountain was originally only accessible to trekkers on the Ausangate Trek, but you can now view this natural wonder on a 1- or 2-day trip during your Peruvian vacation. We also offer a two-day Inca trail and Rainbow Mountain tour that brings you to Machu Picchu before you see Rainbow Mountain Cusco Peru
Sediments of turquoise, scarlet, and mustard hues cascade down Rainbow Mountain, or Vinicunca, giving it a stunning appearance. Before being exposed to the tectonic movements and extreme wind erosion of the high Andes, these diverse layers of hue were developed over millions of years due to the presence of varied mineral compositions. The glacier that formerly covered the peak has since melted as a result of global warming. Before shorter 1- and 2-day tour itineraries were constructed in recent years, this excursion was a popular addition to the Ausangate Trek.
Rainbow Mountain’s elevation of 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) is greater than half that of Mount Everest. Those who intend to visit this gorgeous location must be prepared for a three-hour, strenuous hike at a high altitude. Due to the elevation, very cold temperatures and UV radiation might further complicate the trek. However, despite the difficulty of reaching there, the amazing view at the summit will make the journey worthwhile.
- Elevation: 5,200 meters (17,060 ft) above sea level.
Depending on the pace, the duration is 3 to 4 hours.
Distance: 7 kilometers.
- Depending on the level of physical fitness, moderate to challenging.
How to arrive at Rainbow Mountain Cusco Peru
Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire and the nearest major city to Machu Picchu and many of Peru’s most famous sights, is the departure point for all journeys to Rainbow Mountain. After departing from Cusco, your trip to Rainbow Mountain will take you on a two-hour drive to the village of Pitumarca, located two hours’ drive south of the city. Close by is the trailhead for Rainbow Mountain, where you may begin your journey.
History of Rainbow Mountain
The discovery of the colored mountain is a very recent event. Due to climate change, the snow that once covered the hills of Vinicunca has gradually disappeared. According to locals, the mountain was discovered in 2014, and since then, tens of thousands of travelers have made the arduous journey to witness the location.
Hiking Rainbow Mountain
Depending on your speed and level of physical fitness, the hike to Rainbow Mountain will typically take three hours. The trail is mostly level until the final ascent, although the high altitude makes it difficult. Due to the strain that high altitude can place on the body, it is normally advised to walk at a leisurely pace (which you’ll want to do anyway to appreciate the surrounding natural beauty). Along the trail, there are typically horses available for rent for individuals who prefer not to walk. However, they can only transport you to the end of the trail’s flat section, where you will have to dismount and climb the remaining stretch on foot to reach the top.
In addition to llamas and alpacas, the locals around Rainbow Mountain also keep herds of llamas and alpacas, so you will have the opportunity to observe many of these animals along the journey. Once you reach the summit’s observation point, you’ll have expansive views of Rainbow Mountain and the nearby Red Valley (some extended tours also hike through the Red Valley itself via an alternate trail to the mountain).
Don’t forget to take numerous photographs of this breathtaking landscape! You will also be able to view additional rainbow hills surrounding the mountain. Due to the area’s fascinating topography and geology, there are other colorful mountains, but Rainbow Mountain is the most gorgeous.
When should you visit Rainbow Mountain Cusco Peru?
There are two distinct seasons in the Peruvian Andes: the dry season, which lasts generally from April to October, and the rainy season, which lasts from November to March (with the months of heaviest precipitation being January and February). April and October are also enjoyable because they occur during the changeover between seasons.
Due to its high altitude and cold air, Rainbow Mountain frequently experiences snowfall during the region’s wet season. Visitors to Rainbow Mountain should bring clothing for various types of weather, as circumstances can change rapidly. Check out our blog post on the best time to travel to Peru for additional information on when to go.
What to Pack
- A water bottle containing ample water.
- Provisions for the hike (making sure to bring back any trash with you). Near the trailhead, there are also people
- selling candy, water, soda, and small munchies.
- If you wish to pay for a horseback ride, you will need smaller Peruvian soles (S/.50 and S/.80) bills.
- Comfortable and grippy hiking footwear.
- A cozy cap.
- It is necessary to wear multiple layers of clothing to be prepared for various weather conditions.
- Sunscreen and sunglasses are recommended. It is essential not to overlook this, as UV radiation from the sun is
- extremely intense at high altitudes.
- A camera capable of capturing the Mountain of Seven Colors in all its splendor.
- Red Valley is situated adjacent to Rainbow Mountain.
Elevation of Rainbow Mountain & Altitude Sickness
One of the most prevalent worries is altitude Sickness, Rainbow Mountain visitors. Altitude sickness is caused by a shortage of oxygen at higher altitudes and can occur at elevations exceeding 2,500 meters (8,000 feet) above sea level; therefore, Rainbow Mountain’s altitude of 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) is much above the lowest elevation at which it can occur.
Altitude sickness (called as “soroche” in Peru) can cause headaches, nausea, vertigo, exhaustion, and shortness of breath. In rare instances, these symptoms can progress to more serious conditions. Those with a history of cardiac issues should not ascend Rainbow Mountain due to the strain placed on the heart by decreasing oxygen levels. If you are unsure whether or not you should trek Rainbow Mountain, you should consult a physician before traveling to Peru.
After discussing any health problems with your physician and determining that hiking Rainbow Mountain is safe for you, keep the following tour suggestions in mind:
Always acclimate to the altitude for at least two days before hiking Rainbow Mountain or engaging in any other strenuous physical activity.
Consult your physician at home for any recommended drugs to aid with acclimatization at high altitudes.
Locals have utilized coca tea as a herbal treatment for altitude sickness for thousands of years.
Avoid consuming heavy meals, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco products.
Take care to keep well-hydrated.
Check out our blog about altitude sickness in Peru for more information about altitude sickness and how to handle its symptoms.
Frequent Requested Information
Below are our responses to some of the most often-asked questions regarding the hike up the most colorful peak in Peru.
HOW DOES THE PATH TO RAINBOW MOUNTAIN LOOK?
The trail begins with an even, steady ascent across a valley before reaching a tougher ascent up Rainbow Mountain.
To obtain the iconic vista, you must climb an extremely steep, hard-packed dirt slope opposite Rainbow Mountain. Due to the sheerness of the mountainside, the terrain can become slick when wet. The summit affords panoramic views of the slope and rich, verdant landscapes that transition into snow-capped summits.
HOW DIFFICULT IS THE WALK UP RAINBOW MOUNTAIN?
Many people are unaware that Rainbow Mountain is a hike at a high altitude. The altitude, more so than the trail’s gradient, increases the difficulty of the trek. The trailhead begins at about 4,300 meters (14,000 feet) and ascends to approximately 1,600 meters (5,000 feet) (16,400 feet). Numerous individuals have difficulty and end up paying for a horseback ride supplied by a local who is walking along the trail.
HOW IS THE WEATHER RIGHT NOW?
The weather in Rainbow Mountain is highly variable and frequently unpredictable. You could experience warm weather and clear skies one moment, followed by cloudy skies and snowfall the next. The best strategy is to dress in layers to be prepared for all weather conditions.
DO THE BATHROOMS RUN ALONG THE TRAIL?
There are some very modest restrooms along the trail. Although the sole option in such a distant location, these bathrooms are extremely rudimentary. To be safe, always keep a roll of toilet paper on hand.
RECOMMEND A ONE- OR TWO-DAY TOUR?
A one-day excursion to Rainbow Mountain Cusco Peru is a very long day. The 3 am pickup in Cusco is followed by a 3-hour journey to the trailhead, followed by several hours of hiking and a return drive. Even for those in excellent physical condition, this can be very tiring, therefore for those with the time, a 2-day tour may be recommended. The itinerary for 2-day tours is slower and more pleasurable. Not only does camping closer to Rainbow Mountain shorten the travel to and from Cusco, but it also helps you acclimate to the altitude better than in Cusco, so you feel better during the trek.
Why is Peru’s Rainbow Mountain so colorful?
Rich mineral deposits compacted into layers over millions of years are the source of the mountain’s vibrant hues. Iron oxide composes the red layers, while oxidized limonite gives other layers their brown tint. Chlorite imparts a green tint to other Rainbow Mountains layers, whereas iron sulfide is responsible for their yellow color.
Tips for Tourists
Once you reach the base of Rainbow Mountain, where the majority of tourists take pictures, consider ascending the slope behind the first vantage point for less crowded views.
To avoid heavier crowds, make careful to depart early; the first cruises depart between 2:00 and 4:00 AM.
As the weather at the peak of Rainbow Mountain can be unpredictable, you should bring a windbreaker and sunscreen just in case.
Rainbow Mountain is taller than Cusco, so be sure to take breaks and listen to your body while you complete the trek.
Plan Your Journey
Do you wish to witness Rainbow Mountain for yourself? Contact us immediately so that one of our skilled travel agents can begin preparing for your vacation! Magical Peru Expeditions prioritizes the attractions you wish to visit, and we can design itineraries based on your chosen travel speed and duration. Check out our other packages for more invigorating destinations, such as Rainbow Mountain.