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Complete Hiking Guide To Visiting Rainbow Mountain Peru

Complete Hiking Guide To Visiting Rainbow Mountain Peru

A visit to Rainbow Mountain in Peru, known locally as Vinicunca (its Quechua name) or the montaña de siete colores (seven-colored mountain), is an absolute must for all those who love stunning landscapes and gorgeous scenery. Nestled in a remote region of the Andes Mountains, Rainbow Mountain was once a spectacle only to be admired by trekkers along the Ausangate Trek, but now you can witness this display of natural beauty in all its glory on a shorter 1- or 2-day hike as part of your Peru vacation.


Rainbow Mountain Hike

Turquoise, scarlet, and mustard colored sediments drape down Rainbow Mountain, or Vinicunca, and give the mountain its striking appearance. These different layers of color represent distinct mineral contents and were formed over the course of millions of years before being exposed by the tectonic movements and intense wind erosion of the high Andes. The mountain was once covered by a glacier which has since melted due to the effects of global warming. It then became a popular side excursion on the Ausangate Trek before shorter 1- and 2-day tour routes were developed in recent years.

At 5,020 meters (16,466 fasl) above sea level, Rainbow Mountain’s altitude is more than half that of Mount Everest. Those who wish to see this beautiful site for themselves must be prepared for 1-hour hike at high altitude. from here you will have an extraordinary view of the entire landscape and the wonder of the rainbow mountain.

How to Get There:

All tours to Rainbow Mountain leave from the city of Cusco, the former capitol of the Inca Empire and the closest major city to Machu Picchu and many of Peru’s most famous attractions. After departing from Cusco your tour will take you on a 3-hour drive south of the city to the town of Phulawasipata. Not far from here is where you’ll find the Rainbow Mountain trailhead to start your hike.

The hike to Rainbow Mountain will usually take around 1 hours depending on your speed and level of physical fitness. The trail itself is mostly flat until the final ascent, but the high altitude is what makes it challenging. Because of the strain that high altitude can cause on the body, it’s generally recommended to walk at a relaxed pace (which you’ll want to do anyways so that you can enjoy the natural beauty around you). For those who prefer not to hike, there are usually horses available for rent along the trail, however they can only bring you to the end of the flat part of the trail where you’ll have to dismount and climb the final stretch on foot to reach the summit.

The local people of this region keep herds of llamas and alpacas, so you’ll have the chance to see many of these furry creatures along the way. Once you reach the summit’s lookout point you’ll have sweeping panoramic views of not only Rainbow Mountain but also the nearby Red Valley (some extended tours also hike through the Red Valley itself via an alternate trail to the mountain). Make sure to take a lot of pictures of this amazing landscape!

Best Time to Visit:

Rainbow Mountain Peru

The Peruvian Andes are subject to two distinct seasons: the dry season, lasting from roughly April until November; and the rainy season, lasting from December until March (with the months of heaviest precipitation being January and February).

Because of its high altitude and frigid air, rainy season in the region often translates to snowfall for Rainbow Mountain. Visitors to Rainbow Mountain should come prepared with clothes for all weather, as conditions can also change quickly. For more information about when to visit, make sure to check out our blog on the best time to visit Peru.

What to Bring:

  • A water bottle with plenty of water.
  • Snacks for the hike (making sure to bring back any trash with you). There are also locals selling candies, water and soda, and small snacks near the trailhead.
  • Peruvian soles in smaller bills (S/.20 and S/.40) if you want to pay for a horse ride.
  • Comfortable hiking shoes with good traction.
  • A warm hat.
  • Multiple layers of clothing in order to be prepared for all weather conditions.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses. This is important not to forget, since the sun’s UV rays are very harsh at high altitude.

Plan Your Trip:

Want to see the incredible Rainbow Mountain Peru for yourself? Don’t hesitate to contact us so that one of our expert travel advisors can start planning your trip today!


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