RAINBOW MOUNTAIN PERU: ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE IN 2023
The Rainbow Mountain Peru – has blown up in popularity in recent years and is the second most visited site in Peru after Machu Picchu. A visit to Rainbow Mountain, known locally as Winicunca (its Quechua name) or the montaña de 7 colores (seven-colored mountain), is an absolute must for all those who love outstanding landscapes and amazing scenery. Nestled deep within the Andes. Rainbow Mountain was once a spectacle only to be appreciated by trekkers along the Ausangate Trek, but now you can visit this display of natural beauty in all its splendor on a shorter 1- or 2-day hike.
Rainbow Mountain News:
On November 26th, 2023: Rainbow Mountain is closed until further notice. The only way to get there is by Pitumarca route.
Table of Contents
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE HIKING THE RAINBOW MOUNTAIN
- You should know that extremely sunny days or capturing photos around midday will likely overexpose your photographs due to excessive light. The optimal time to visit Rainbow Mountain would be in the morning or evening hours, either immediately after sunrise or just before sunset.
- The Rainbow Mountain day trip is a short hike but challenging hike due to the high altitude.
- For visitors who are not interested hiking for abour 4 hours, the journey can be undertaken on horseback for 90 soles. Horses can be rented at various points along the trail if hiking becomes too difficult.
- You will find Local vendors along the way and the Summit selling souvenirs, including photos with llamas wearing sun glasses. It’s worthwhile to carry extra currency (soles) during the hike.
- Due to the unpredictable weather, dressing appropriately can be challenging. It is best to bring multiple lightweight layers to prepare for fluctuations between wind, rain, and sunshine, as temperatures noticeably drop at the top of the mountain. Rain jackets are essential, as are sunglasses, sunscreen, and an ample water supply.
- In summary, the Rainbow Mountain should NOT be your first trekking from Cusco, and if you decide to do the hike, we dont recommend visiting it within the first 48 hours of arriving in Cusco. There is a reason why tour guides bring oxygen.
- If there is heavy rain, the trail will quickly become slippery, muddy, and challenging to traverse.
- The vast majority of travellers to Rainbow Mountain choose to take a guided tour. There is no public bus to reach the mountain, so unless you rent a car, it is best to take a tour. It’s highly recommended to leave the winding mountain roads to the experts.
- Alternatively, you can take an ATV up the mountain. This eliminates much of the effort required for Rainbow Mountain and adds an adrenaline-fueled fun to the day!
- It’s also recommended to avoid hiking the mountain on weekends because that’s when many locals hike Rainbow Mountain, and the trail can become crowded.
- The earlier you leave Cusco, the better, as you will arrive at the top before it gets crowded.
- Rainbow Mountain is actually quite a small site with a single-access trail for all hikers. The mirador is already so crowded due to tours arriving at the same time, so it is difficult to take a picture without the crowd.
- The Rainbow Mountain trail is easy to follow and most tour guides will leave their customers to hike alone at their own pace. But, if it starts raining then the trail will quickly turn slippery and muddy to traverse.
- we recommend you to visit on a sunny day when the colors are the most vivid. When it is raining or misty, colors can be darker, and it would be hard to avoid disappointment.
- Do not forget that health and safety always go first. If you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, get a headache or feel tired during the trek, do not continue and get back to a lower altitude as soon as possible.
- If you plan to visit Rainbow Mountain in Cusco, you must really add Red Valley to your itinerary.
- Only a few meters away from the bus station stand a lot of local people offering horses for S/90 for a ride to the rainbow mountain. In case you are out of breath or want to enjoy the amazing landscape from horseback, go for it.
- You will ride a horse for approximately two-thirds of the trail, but they can’t keep going on the steepest part so to reach the viewpoint, you will have to hike anyway.
- End elevation: (5040 m/ 16,535 ft).
- Trail: The dirt path trail to the top is flat for about 70% or so, with a gradual ascent for 20%, and then quite a tough steep ascent for the last 10% or 250-350 meters.
- Walking time: Walking to the top (with a few breaks along the way) in approx. 1 hour 20 minutes, and then return to the bus station in 45 minutes.
- Driving time: 3 hours one way, and 6 hours round trip
- Difficulty: Moderate to difficult, depending on the level of physical fitness.
- Renting horse: 60 soles one way and round trip 90 soles.
- Entrance fee: 25 Soles.
- Starting elevation: (4,638m / 15,216 ft)
- Hiking Distance: (8 km / 4,97 miles round trip)
- Duration of the complete day: 11 – 12 hours.
- Driving distance from Cusco: (62 Miles/100 km)
- Elevation difference during trek: (400 m /1318 ft)
RAINBOW MOUNTAIN VIDEO
HOW TO BUY RAINBOW MOUNTAIN TICKETS
You can t buy a Rainbow Mountain ticket online or in Cusco City. The only way to buy the tickets is in person on the same day that you are visiting Rainbow Mountain. There are 2 places where you have to pay. At the first checkpoint, you will pay 5 soles due to using the roads of the community, and at the second checkpoint, you will pay 20 soles for the Rainbow Mountain ticket.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are different ways to get there:
1.- Going by yourself
Take a taxi from Cusco City to the Bus station of Sicuani which takes 10 minutes. Taxis charge around 7 soles. Once at the bus station, you should buy your bus ticket to Cusipata town. The time to get there are around 2 hours. After getting off in Cusipata, you will find local taxi drivers who will offer their service. Negotiate the Price! If you want more detailed info click here.
2.- Hire a taxi or shuttle or van.
There are many taxi companies in Cusco City. If you want to hire a taxi ask them very well if they know the road to Rainbow Mountain. We recommend AB Expeditions company, they also hire their taxis and vans. Contact via Whatsapp at +5197650080.
3.- Take a tour with a travel company.
There are thousands of travel companies in Cusco. It is hard to decide which company to choose. Also, the prices are different from cheap to expensive. Learn more below about the difference between them.
- The cheaper companies pool together and they take 20 people or even more with one guide. If you take their service, make sure that they have an office.
- The reputable companies take small groups, their vans are new, and they bring their own cook to prepare the food. If you want to take their service, check their review on Trip Advisor. Click here to book with a reputable Company.
EXTRA THINGS TO DO IN RAINBOW MOUNTAIN.
1.- Visit the Red Valley.
The Red Valley is one of the most beautiful attractions in Ausangate, That you don’t have to miss it. This amazing red valley is gaining popularity among travelers because of its vibrant colors! It is 30 minutes away from Rainbow Mountain. Learn more.
2.- Take a picture at Giant Hands
The local people who live in the área built a giant hand to take pictures from a different perspective. It takes 5 minutes to walk there. To take a picture in this hand, you need to pay an extra 5 Peruvian soles to the locals.
RAINBOW MOUNTAIN WEATHER
The Rainbow Mountain weather is very unpredictable, changing often and rapidly. In addition to that, the temperature in the early hours in the mountains can be below freezing. You might see warm weather and sunny skies one minute and then cloudy skies and snowfall the next. The best idea is to make sure you are prepared for all seasons by dressing in layers. Rain jackets are a must, as are sunglasses, sunscreen, and plenty of water.
BEST TIME TO HIKE THE RAINBOW MOUNTAIN
The best time to hike to Rainbow Mountain is from April to October, it rarely rains, and the days of endless sunshine offer an even better view of the rugged mountain peaks against a clear blue sky.
Hiking in the wet season which runs from December – March can be a bloody miserable and muddy experience – and almost a complete waste of your time – to do this hike in the rain and mist.
PREPARE FOR THE ALTITUDE
Altitude sickness can affect anybody — being young or physically fit does not decrease the risk. Not everyone gets sick at high altitudes, and it is hard to predict who is likely to be badly affected by it. For most travelers, it is nothing more than a headache and a dizzy sensation that diminishes over a short period of time (1-2 days).
We highly recommend getting used to the altitude before hiking Rainbow Mountain in Cusco. If you’re short on time, talk to your doctor about taking altitude sickness medication (acetazolamide/Diamox) or drink coca tea or chew coca leaves.
THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES!
There are a few excellent alternatives to the classic Rainbow Mountain in Cusco which will take you away from the crowds but still allow you to enjoy the same or similar multicolored ranges. Here they are:
1.- Pocoyo Mountain
Hiking Palcoyo Mountain, you are going to enjoy 3 different colorful mountains, be far away from the crowds, and possibly hike with an alpaca/llama. It takes 25 minutes to get to the Summit and it is rated a very easy hike. Learn more.
2.- Pallay Punchu Mountain.
It was discovered during the Pandemic. There are very few people visiting this área. Apart from the beautiful colorful Mountain, you will the fantastic lake behind. Learn more…
FREQUENT ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RAINBOW MOUNTAIN PERU
Why is rainbow mountain Peru colorful?
The different coloration is due to different environmental conditions and mineralogy when the sediment was originally deposited and subsequently diagenetically altered. The introduction of oxidized limonite or goethite will produce brown or yellow staining of sandstones. Iron oxides impart a dark red pigment, similar to how a nail will rust and turn red when oxidized. In addition, green coloring is often due to chlorite or iron silicate clays. If there is iron sulfide present, you will get a metallic yellow color imparted by the sulfur.
Is rainbow mountain worth it?
Yes, it is totally worth it, because you don’t only see the rainbow mountain, you see the Majestic Ausangate glacier, the red valley, and the amazing landscapes of the Andes.
Where are rainbow mountains?
The Rainbow Mountain Vinicunca is located to the southeast of the city of Cusco, exactly between Cusipata and Pitumarca districts, Canchis and Quispicanchis province, Peru.
Are there Toilets along the trail?
When you arrive at the bus station, there are very basic bathroom facilities available. However, these toilets are not very well developed and don’t have any toilet paper so make sure to carry a roll of toilet paper with you just in case.
There are no restrooms at the top so make sure to use the last toilet which is at the beginning of the first uphill.
How far is the rainbow mountain from Cusco?
The distance from Cusco to Rainbow Mountain is 120 km(74.56 miles). It takes 3 hours to drive one way(round trip 6 hours).
How far is the rainbow mountain from Machu Picchu?
From Rainbow Mountain to Machu Picchu, it takes 6 hours away one way. It is impossible to visit Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain in 1 day. All the tours start and finish in Cusco City.
How long is the rainbow mountain hike?
The hike to the Vinicunca(rainbow mountain) will take around 1 hour one way and 2 hours round trip. Stopping to take a picture and getting the explanation from your guide, it takes an average of 3 h 30 min to complete the whole hike.
Is Rainbow Mountain near Machu Picchu?
Not, Rainbow Mountain and Machu Picchu are on opposite sides. Rainbow Mountain is located southeast of Cusco and Machu Picchu is located northwest of Cusco City.
Is rainbow mountain difficult?
Rainbow Mountain is considered a moderately-difficult hike. The only thing that makes the hike difficult is the Altitude.
How many miles to hike a rainbow mountain?
The distance to hike Rainbow Mountain is 4.35 miles(7km)
When rainbow mountain was discovered?
Local people knew the Mountain Mountain. It was not discovered. This Mountain became very famous in 2015.
How was rainbow mountain discovered?
On October 2015. A Couple from the USA came to explore the Andes of Peru. They search for information about the Ausangate trek and they stumbled upon a picture of Rainbow Mountain on the internet. They asked many travel companies to take them to Rainbow Mountain. But No one knew it. They just printed a Google map to find by themselves. On October 30th they published a travel blog on the internet. They started a Company with a local guide and they start operating tours to Rainbow Mountain.
Do you recommend a 1-day or 2-day tour?
The Rainbow Mountain day trip ends up being a very long day. Pick-up in Cusco is very early at 3 am, then it is a 3-hour drive to the trailhead, and then after 4 hours of trekking, you make the return drive. This can be very tiring even for those in great physical shape, so for those who have time, taking a Rainbow Mountain 2-day trek may be a great idea. The schedule for a 2-day tour is at a slower and more stunning landscape. Also, it allows one to camp closer to Rainbow Mountain and has a better chance to arrive at the mountain before the crowds.