The Rainbow Mountain is located in the Cusco region of the Peruvian Andes, just three hours away by car from Cusco’s historic center, the Vinicunca Mountain, also known as the Rainbow Mountain or the Mountain of the Seven Colors, is becoming the main attraction to see after or before Machu Picchu. As you can guess, the mountain is famous for its natural and multicolored beauty at the astonishing height of 5,200 meters above sea level.
The Rainbow mountain of Peru is located in the vicinity of the snow-capped Ausangate, 140 kilometers by road south of the city of Cusco. It is part of the Vilcanota mountain range between the Cusco provinces of Canchis and Quispicanchi. It owes its rainbow appearance thanks to the concentrated sediments of minerals throughout the area that give it the colors turquoise, lavender, gold, and others.
It was only recently discovered due to the snow melting revealing the hidden gem that to this day is considered sacred by many. Since its discovery, Rainbow Mountain has been slowly gaining popularity and has even been included in National Geographic’s list of the top 100 places to visit before you die.
The Incas used to call some mountains “Apu”, and they attributed mystical powers to them. Most of these majestic mountains were covered with snow, among them one of the most outstanding was Vinicunca in the Vilcanota mountain range.
The year 2019 came to receive every day 1500 visitors in high season. It is expected to return to these figures in the near future.
Its popularity has grown in recent years to attract a third of the daily visitors to the ruins of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, also in Cusco, Peru’s main tourist attraction with 4,000 visitors a day.
There is a wide range of travel agencies to climb Rainbow Mountain. Most of them include meals and guides; however, you have to pay a supplement to rent a horse (optional) and entrance fees.
Depending on the length of the tour and the extras included, prices for the Rainbow Mountain tours can start at $50 and go up to $150.
What is the history of Rainbow Mountain?
The rainbow mountain’s public history really began a few years ago. Rainbow Mountain was completely covered with snow, making it impossible to fully witness its beauty.
Once the mountain’s existence became known outside of the local communities, it began to attract locals and travelers alike. First, with a couple of dozen people and now hundreds of visitors daily.
The formation of the rainbow appearance of Vinicunca is due to marine, lake, and river sediments transported by the water that once covered the area. These sediments date from between the Tertiary and Quaternary periods, approximately 65 million years ago. Over time, these sediments formed layers, which today are the famous colored layers.
The movement of the tectonic plates in the area raised the colorful sediments into large mountains. After this, the mountains acquired their striking colors due to oxidation and erosion of the minerals in the soil.
According to the study of the Directorate of Cultural Landscape of Peru, the pink or fuchsia color of the mountain is due to a mixture of red clay, mudstones (mud), and sand. While the whitish color is visible thanks to the sandstone (quartz stone) and limestone. A mixture of clay, calcium carbonate, and silicates has formed the purple or lavender tones. In addition, the red color is due to the argillites and clays present. Finally, the green tones are due to the clays rich in Ferro magnesium and copper oxide. While the yellowish-brown, mustard or golden browns are formed from limonites, calcareous sandstones rich in sulfide minerals.
The first thing that struck me about Rainbow Mountain was the colors that are not seen anywhere else. But it was not the only thing. It is one of those places where the journey is as surprising as the destination. Llamas, horses, and alpacas are scattered throughout the mountain range, along with local communities that help visitors discover the 7 Colors Mountain. The scenery along the trek is like the pictures; even the pictures don’t do justice. Add to this the natural and local history, and it’s no wonder it’s gaining so much popularity.
What does Rainbow Mountain mean?
As its name suggests, it is a mountain with 7 beautiful colors, but do not imagine the classic brown tones because they are intense colors: fuchsia, turquoise, lavender, and gold. These colors dye its slopes, forming perfectly defined stripes. It is a rainbow, in its own right, made mountain.
When did Rainbow Mountain get its name?
The locals traditionally know the rainbow mountain as Vinicunca, a word originating from the native language of Peru, Quechua, which translates as “mountain of colors.” The inhabitants of the area also call it Cerro Colorado.
What are the colors of Rainbow Mountain?
The colors of Rainbow Mountain are as follows:
- Pink – Arose because of the red clay, mud, and sand.
- White comes from substances rich in calcium carbonates, such as quartzite, sandstone, and marlstone.
- Red – Formed by clays and clayey stones.
- Green and blue come from a composite of phyllites and more ferromagnesium-rich clays.
- Earthy brown – Composed of rock and magnesium.
- Yellow – Composed of layers of iron sulfide.
A brief explanation.
Anyone can see the colors of the mountain and the fact that they all stand out so clearly. They don’t blend into each other, and it is clear to name each color that appears.
This occurred due to the erosion of the minerals inside the mountain due to volcanic activity and some tectonic displacements of the Nazca plates. Then, the earth was exposed due to a lot of natural elements by Mother Nature (Pachamama), such as rain, wind and even snowfall.
Eventually, all of this led to the creation of the Rainbow Mountain we see today.
For what purpose was Rainbow Mountain utilized and by what civilization?
The Vinicunca mountain is part of the Qoyllurit’i Andean spiritual center, the largest religious pilgrimage in the Peruvian Andes, which was recognized in 2011 as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by Unesco. The Rainbow mountain is located on the way to Ausangate, the Sacred Mountain of Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire.
What are the myths about Rainbow Mountain?
Listed below are the most important myths about rainbow mountain.
Myth of the Andean Duality. According to history, in ancient times, the Incas used to call some mountains “Apu”, and they attributed mystical powers to them. Most of these majestic mountains were covered with snow; among them, one of the most outstanding was Vinicunca in the Vilcanota mountain range.
The Incas gave Vinicunca a masculine character because it was considered that its foundations sprouted from a masculine energy, the same that fertilized the Pachamama. Nowadays, the inhabitants of the place consider Vinicunca a sacred mountain, so they perform rituals such as ‘the payment’ (grattitude offering) to the earth.
Myth of Salcantay and Ausangate.
The rich stories and traditions of Cuzco allow us to collect the myth of Salcantay and Ausangate on the Vinicunca route.
It is the classic story of brothers who take different paths: it is said that Salcantay and Ausangate were brothers who lived in Cusco, and after a harsh drought, they ventured into strange lands to save their people.
Salcantay went to the north and found the jungle, and there the forbidden love of Veronica; on the other hand, Ausangate went to the south, to the high plateau, and found great production of Andean products, and from there, he sent camelid meat, corn, potatoes, and others. This was the only way to save the people of Cusco. As witnesses of this story, we can find both mountains located in the Cusco region, silent narrators of a story that came to us.
Is Rainbow Mountain important to the history of Peru?
Rainbow is important to Peru’s history as it represents Peru’s amazing geological diversity, including dazzling snow-capped mountains, rugged natural outcrops, and otherworldly landscapes. Moreover, the local people consider Vinicunca a “sacred mountain”, so they perform rituals with high spiritual content in the form of offerings to Mother Earth, which turn the visit into an experience of great mysticism.
Where is Rainbow Mountain located?
The Rainbow Mountain is located on the road to the snow-capped Ausangate, in the Andes of Peru, Cusco Region, between the districts of Cusipata, province of Quispicanchi, and Pitumarca, province of Canchis.
What are the coordinates of Rainbow Mountain?
The coordinates of the Rainbow Mountain are: Latitude: S 13°52’8.518 Longitude: W 71°18’12.765
How did Rainbow Mountain become known?
The Mountain became known in 2015 after photos taken by tourists trekking the Ausangate snow-capped mountain.
It was only recently discovered due to the snow melting, revealing the hidden gem many consider sacred.
The Mountain has been gaining popularity and has even been included in National Geographic’s list of the top 100 places to visit before you die.
Some international and Peruvian media say that Vinicunca was exposed because climate change melted the snow that covered it.
However, many geologists do not support that claim 100%. Juan Carlos Gomez of Peru’s Geophysical Institute (IGP) told BBC Mundo that the Mountain was “partially” covered with ice and received temporary snow until the early 1990s.
“Semana” a Colombian magazine, indicates that thanks to Facebook and Instagram users due to the success and popularity of this phenomenon.
The Rainbow Mountain Cusco or Vinicunca Mountain is unique for its particular coloration. Above all, it is surrounded by mountains, snow-capped peaks, and small Andean villages for its immense picturesque and colorful landscape.
The formation of a mountain is due to the alterations of the terrestrial layer and the movement of the tectonic plates; these alterations have much to do with the environment, climate, and other external factors.
The conical shape of the mountains is because the ice usually forms on the top of the Mountain.
Then climate change causes it to thaw and generate streams of water that flow into rivers or lagoons to mix with the ocean, depending on climatic factors. Because of this process, the Mountain is wearing away and taking its conical shape.
The geology of Rainbow Mountain dates back some 24 million years. At that time, there were movements of the tectonic plates by the alterations of the terrestrial layers; then, during the movement, there were different gullies between layers of mineralogical types or soils with a tremendous wealth of sediments of mineral rocks such as sandstone, halite, gravel, limestone ranging from ocher, green, mustard yellow, white and others.
These minerals were collected one on top of the other until they were in the form of layers of different colors and mineralogical types.
The formation of these layers depended on the weight of each one of them; at the base was left the heaviest layer, and so successively, the layers were placed according to their weight.
The colors of the mountains are due to their mineralogical composition: the pink color is for the red clay, fangolites (mud), and arilites (sand). The whitish color is due to quartz sandstones and marl, rich in calcium carbonate.
The red comprises clay (iron) and clays belonging to the upper tertiary. The green is composed of phyllites and clays rich in Ferro magnesium. The earthy brown is the product of a fanglomerate composed of magnesium-bearing rock belonging to the Quaternary era. And the mustard yellow color for the calcareous sandstones rich in sulfide minerals.
What are the things needed to trek Rainbow Mountain?
Below is the list of the essential things to climb the Rainbow Mountain
- Rain gear will be essential as the weather in Vinicunca is unstable due to the high altitude and harsh conditions.
- Warm outfits are important as the temperatures might drop below freezing. A quick dry or dry-fit baselayer to deal with the sweat and the cold at the same time is highly recommended.
- A small backpack to carry water, snacks and a camera.
- Coca leaves. They are very helpful in minimizing the effects of high altitude such as dizziness and shortness of breath.
- Water. Take at least two litters of water, preferably warm water, in your bottle or camelback.
- Toilet paper. When in Peru, always take toilet paper with you. Toilets on Rainbow mountain are basic for the most part.
- Trekking shoes and socks are mandatory on this hike as the weather conditions and the harshness of the terrain will demand sturdy footwear.
- Trekking poles are life savers when it comes to hiking rainbow mountain. They will be crucial when finishing the last part of the climbing to the top and provide lots of stability and balance on the downhill.
- Hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen Tare essential due to the cold and extreme sunlight on clear days.
What does the Rainbow Mountain map look like?
What is the geography of Rainbow Mountain like?
The geography and natural landscapes surrounding the Vinicunca Mountain are some of the most amazing and interesting in Peru. It is located in the vicinity of the snow-capped Ausangate, 140 kilometers by road south of the city of Cusco. Belonging to the so-called Vilcanota mountain range, about 5,200 meters above sea level.
The Vilcanota mountain range is a mountain range located in southeastern Peru that is one of the southern branches of the eastern Andean Cordillera. It is the second largest concentration of snow in Peru, with 469 glaciers in an area of 418 km2 and an average thickness of 28.7 meters deep. The mountain range extends for about 120 km through the departments of Cusco and Puno. It reaches its maximum altitude in the snowy Ausangate, at 6,372 meters above sea level followed by the Callangate, at 6,110 meters.
The Vilcanota mountain range is located about 85 kilometers southeast of the city of Cuzco. It lies between 13° 27′ and 14° 29′ south latitude and 70° 41′ and 71° 20′ west latitude, crossing the departments of Cuzco (provinces of Canchis and Quispicanchi) and Puno (province of Melgar). It extends in a northerly direction for about 80 kilometers and then in a westerly direction for about 40 km.
The mountain range is covered by extensive snow-capped mountains and glaciers, which in other times descended further south, on the plateau of Sibinacocha, drained by the tributaries of the Vilcanota River. It has a glacier surface of 418,43, being the Quelccaya glacier the most extensive of the mountain range. There are numerous U-shaped valleys and lagoons of glacial origin, closed by moraines. The main lakes are: Amayuni, Singrenacocha, Challpacocha, Armaccocha and Sibinacocha, the largest of the mountain range.
This mountain range gives birth to a very extensive hydrographic system. To the northwest, between the Ayacachi and central Vilcanota systems, the Paucartambo River is born, which later is called Yavero, to arrive as Urubamba to the Tambo River, which becomes Ucayali at the height of Atalaya.
The Qosñipata and Pilcopata rivers flow down from the north of this mountain range, descending to the Madre de Dios River at the beginning of the Manu National Park boundaries. In addition, the Marcapata and San Gaban rivers flow down from the east, the latter of which joins the Inambari and flows into the Madre de Dios River.
To the south of this mountain range, the Vilcanota River flows down from the Sibinacocha Lagoon, which is joined by the Paria and Santa Rosa Rivers to follow its extensive course northwest through the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Besides being a mineral spectacle, the Vinicunca region also has beautiful examples of the typical flora and fauna of the high Peruvian Andes. Camelids such as llamas, alpacas and vicuñas are frequent in the area.
As for the flora, due to the altitude of this region, the ichu or natural grass of the Andes abounds.
What is the geological profile of Rainbow Mountain?
Before we learn about the geology of Rainbow Mountain Peru, we must understand how a mountain is formed.
The Rainbow Mountain Cusco or Vinicunca Mountain is unique for its particular coloration, surrounded by mountains, snow-capped peaks, and small Andean villages, above all for its immense picturesque and colorful landscape.
The formation of a mountain is due to the alterations of the terrestrial layer and the movement of the tectonic plates, in these alterations has much to do the environment, climate and other external. The conical shape of the mountains is due to the fact that the ice usually forms on the top of the mountain.
Then climate change causes it to thaw and generate streams of water that flow down to flow into rivers or lagoons to mix with the ocean depending on climatic factors. Because of this process the mountain is wearing away and taking its conical shape.
To learn about the geology of Rainbow Mountain we have to go back some 24 million years. At that time there were movements of the tectonic plates by the alterations of the terrestrial layers, then during the movement, there were different gullies between layers of mineralogical types or soils with a tremendous wealth of sediments of mineral rocks such as sandstone, halite, gravel, limestone ranging from ocher, green, mustard yellow, white and others.
These minerals were collected one on top of the other until they were in the form of layers of different colours and mineralogical types. The formation of these layers depended on the weight of each one of them, at the base was left the heaviest layer and so successively the layers were placed according to their weight.
The color of Rainbow Mountain
The colors of the mountains are due to their mineralogical composition: the pink color is for the red clay, fangolites (mud), and arilites (sand). The whitish, for the quartz sandstones and marls, rich in calcium carbonate. This information is according to the investigation of the Landscape Officer of the Directorate of Decentralization of Culture of Cusco.
The red is composed of clay (iron) and clays belonging to the upper tertiary. The green is composed of phyllites and clays rich in Ferro magnesium. The earthy brown is the product of fanglomerate composed of magnesium-bearing rock belonging to the Quaternary era. And the mustard yellow colour for the calcareous sandstones rich in sulphide minerals.
What are the Hiking Routes near the Rainbow Mountain?
There are 3 routes to get to Vinicunca Mountain (Rainbow Mountain).
Route 1. Checacupe to Pitumarca. It takes an average of three hours to climb up and 2.5 hours to descend. Hikers arriving in large buses use this route because it is the only one large enough to accommodate large vehicles.
Route 2. Via Combapata also includes stopping at the “Bosque de Piedras.” The road allows smaller vehicles to approach the trail, so hiking takes 1 to 1.5 hours.
Route 3. Via Cusipata, the newest route goes through the community of Cusipata. The road is narrow, and a small wooden bridge only allows small vehicles to pass. The hike is approximately 1.5 hours.
How many miles is Rainbow Mountain?
The Rainbow Mountain trail is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) long, which may not seem like much, but it makes it take longer to walk when hiking at altitude.
The altitude of the base of the mountain is 4,326 meters and the peak is 5,200 meters above sea level. To put it in perspective, Rainbow Mountain is higher than any other mountain in North America and its summit is about the same altitude as the base camp of Mount Everest.
The Rainbow Mountain is one of the highest treks in all of Peru. It is worth a visit and a hike because of the beautiful and incredible scenery.
When is the best time to visit Rainbow Mountain?
The best time of the year to visit the Rainbow Mountain or Vinicucnca is the by far the dry season; that is from April to Late November.
The dry season. – This season runs from April to November and it is recommended that you make your trip to Rainbow Mountain during this time to see your surroundings at their best.
Rainy Season. – This is the season in which it is not recommended to visit Rainbow Mountain because the weather is rainy and there are usually thunderstorms, so it is risky to visit between the months of December to March.
You should avoid traveling when there is a chance of rain or snow. This weather will increase the difficulty of the trip and reduce the satisfaction of the sighting.
May to October is said to be the best time for hikers to see the colorful mountains.
The months of June to August usually have bright blue skies and Peru is filled with tourists. If you like to mingle with the crowds, you can plan your visit that way, but if you are not a crowd person, you can choose other options in the dry season time.
What is the climate like on Rainbow Mountain?
The climate in the Mountain of the Seven Colors varies according to the season in which it is, although in general the climate in the mountain Vinicunca is frigid since it is located at an altitude of 5200 meters above sea level, which means that it always has a climate and a cold and dry temperature. In the rainy season the weather is cloudy, rainy and cold, so the temperature drops to 5 ° C at night, and during the day has an average temperature between 10 to 15 ° C. Its temperature in the months of May to November varies between 7 and 12 °C in the daytime and at night it drops to less than 0 °C.
Where to stay at Rainbow Mountain?
Most travelers choose to stay in the hotels in the city of Cusco. You can also plan your stay there. After sighting the mountain of the seven colors, you can take an hour tour of the city and enjoy the admirable archaeological remains of the Inca Empire and Spanish colonial architecture.
The closest hotel services to Vinicunca are in the village of Cusipata. The hotels there are simple but pleasant.
What are the Rainbow Mountain tours?
There is a wide range of private agencies to climb Rainbow Mountain. Most of them include meals and guides; however, you have to pay a supplement to rent a horse (optional) and entrance fees.
Depending on the length of the tour and the extras included, tickets for Rainbow Mountain tours can start at $30 and go up to $100. Compare prices from different ticket providers below.
We present three recognized travel agencies that offer tours to Rainbow Mountain so you can compare and choose the option you prefer.
RAINBOW MOUNTAIN TRAVELS
Rainbow Mountain Travels in the opinion of different travelers they provided the best service with the best guides, equipment and depth of information provided on the trek.
Friendly, attentive, bilingual guides with perfectly fluent English and extensive knowledge of all things Rainbow Mountain – First aid training Personalized tour with the safest and most reliable tour operator – early departure to beat the crowds and all the necessary equipment to ensure a safe hike. Day Tour
Duration: 12 hours
Price: 49 USD
Perfect for those who want to be the first on the mountain to get pictures without the crowds. The price includes all equipment, food, transport, guide services and entry fees, with much of it going to the local communities in the region. There are no hidden extras, unlike other companies.
Rainbow Mountain Travels | Discover The Colored Mountain
KANTU PERU TOURS
#2 recommended operator.
First aid kit and trained personnel on each tour.
They have all the equipment and bilingual guides with years of experience to help you with everything you need along the way.
Kantu Peru Tours – Tours to Machu Picchu – Machu Picchu Packages
FEATURES OF PERU
#3 recommended operator
He also leaves relatively early to be among the first to reach the top of Rainbow Mountain.
Professional and bilingual guides who will lead the hike. Safety equipment and emergency oxygen for each group.
All day long. Price:
Peru Features – Travel to Peru from Colombia, Machu Picchu Tour, Peru Tours, Peru Travel Plans
In its tours Rasgos del Peru considers a minimum age of 12 years (with parental authorization) and a maximum of 60 (with medical certificate of optimal health conditions) to take and guide travelers to the Rainbow Mountain.
What are the closest destinations to Rainbow Mountain?
The closest center to Rainbow Mountain in Peru is. This city is also a must-see destination if you visit Peru. It is also located near the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu.
OTHER ALTERNATIVES TO ADD TO YOUR ITINERARY NEAR THE MOUNTAINS
– Ausangate | Ausangate is absolutely beautiful and one of the most impressive landscapes in the Andes. The great mountains and the turquoise glacial lakes look breathtaking and out of the ordinary;
– The Red Valley : There are many tours that include Rainbow Mountain and the Red Valley. The landscape is predominantly red and green and gives the feeling of being on another planet. Although the Red Valley is actually 15 minutes from the Rainbow Mountain viewpoint, it is a 2.5 hour detour through the valley.
– Palcoyo Mountain : It allows you to leave Cusco at a more reasonable time, around 7am, and have to deal with much less crowds. It also looks absolutely beautiful.
How to get from Cusco to Rainbow Mountain?
The easiest way to get there if you do not have a tour to facilitate the process is to take the bus from Cusco to Sicuani. The ticket costs about 5 soles and the trip takes about 2 hours. You should get off at the Cusipata bus stop and from there look for a collective transport that will take you to Phulawasipata for approximately 15 soles.
After an hour, and after paying 10 soles, you can start the ascent. It is important to note that this option is only available in the morning, so time is limited.
Another way to get there is to stop in Pitumarca. It is the same bus to Sicuani, but it takes 3 hours to get there and costs 7 soles. Once in Pitumarca is a
matter of looking for a taxi to take you to Pampachiri, from where to start the trekking. The ascent can be done walking or on horseback that brings you closer to the best points where you can see the colors.
What you need to know before going to Rainbow Mountain?
Most people want to visit Rainbow Mountain because of its challenging route. It is the most common reason for hikers to try it. Hikers consider it a great challenge to hike high altitude mountains.
At an altitude of 5,200 meters above sea level the hike can take up to 6 hours to reach the attraction. The hiking hours depend on your physical condition. Normally it takes 2 hours to reach the highest peak, but it is always important to think and calculate in some extra hours.
You can hire a horse at any time if you feel you can’t make it to the top on foot. To get used to the difference in altitude and other health reasons, you should arrive in the city of Cusco two days before (very important).
Hikers also choose to make a two-day visit to Rainbow Mountain. It is also possible to camp closer to the mountain and enjoy the mountain and the extraordinary scenery for a longer period of time.
On the highest summit of the Rainbow Mountain, the temperature drops below zero at night. It is advisable for hikers to be aware of this fact beforehand if they are planning to reach Vinicunca after a multi-day trek up Ausangate.
Care must be taken to maintain the oxygen level at such a high altitude. Normally, guides do not advise visitors to stay at the top for more than 10-15 minutes, as breathing becomes difficult due to the lack of oxygen.
At about 5200 meters above sea level, it is very difficult for some people to stay longer than expected.
SOME IMPORTANT ASPECTS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT
Apart from the above, you should also know the following before planning any excursion to Rainbow Mountain.
o People often neglect the need for travel insurance. But, if you are trekking/ hiking at such a high altitude for the first time, altitude sickness might cause you some problems. It is always better to prepare beforehand.
o If you intend to rent a horse, make sure you take the healthiest ones. At such a high altitude the animals also succumb to diseases.
o You should take note of the weather in Vinicunca from time to time. Because it only takes an hour for the snowy weather to change to heavy overcast or blazing sunshine. The weather at Rainbow Mountain can change rapidly in a short time and is mostly unpredictable.
o You can bring your snacks as you won’t find any on the route. But, you must return with your garbage. You must take care of the surroundings and the environment.
o Check for qualified guides, oxygen tanks and first aid kits if you are travelling with a tour operator. You should also have a tour operator you trust.
o Most travelers choose to stay in the hotels in the city of Cusco. You can also plan your stay there. After seeing the mountain of the seven colors, you can take an hour walk around the city and enjoy the admirable archaeological remains of the Inca Empire and Spanish colonial architecture.
What is the Rainbow Mountain itinerary like?
A day trip to Rainbow Mountain should be considered as such. The pick up in Cuzco is very early, at 3am, then there is a 3 hour drive to the trailhead and, after several hours of hiking, you make the return trip. This can be very strenuous even for those who are in great physical shape, so for those who have the time, taking a 2-day tour may be a good idea. The 2 day tour program has a slower and more enjoyable pace. Not only does it cut down on the long drive to and from Cuzco, but camping closer to Rainbow Mountain allows you to adjust better to the altitude than in Cuzco, so you will feel better during the hike.
How much does it cost to visit Rainbow Mountain?
The cost of a trip to Vinicunca( also known as the Rainbow Mountain or Montaña de Siete Colores) in Peru can vary depending on the type of tour operator and service you choose. On average, you can expect to pay between $50-$150 per person for a day trip which typically includes transportation, a guide, and sometimes a snack or lunch. Some tours may include additional activities such as quad bikes, horseback riding, or visiting nearby attractions such as the impressive red Valley or Valle Rojo. Get the whole Rainbow Mountain experience with an exclusive service that offers much more than traditional tour packages. Enjoy top-tier amenities like private transportation, heating inside your vehicle, and a professionally trained English-speaking guide to ensure you get there first to maximize your adventure.
What is the best vehicle to visit Rainbow Mountain?
Due to the sinuous geography of Ausangate, it is impossible to build a road that leads directly to the 7 Colors Mountain. The only option is to complete the end of the trail via a 5 kilometer hike to Vinicunca. In the community of Pampachiri, the villagers rent their horses for approximately 100 soles (25 dollars). This is a one-way service. The only way to hire a horse is to negotiate directly with the villagers. There is no way to reserve one online. To get to Pampachiri and buy the ticket to the 7 Colors Mountain you have to follow the following steps:
– Hire a taxi or take a bus from the city of Cusco to the village of Cusipata. Buses leave from the Coliseo Cerrado on Huayruropata Avenue (cost 5 soles). The trip takes approximately 2 hours.
– Once in the town of Cusipata, you can rest before continuing the journey to the community of Pampachiri. There are “colectivos” taxis that provide this service (cost 10 soles). The trip lasts approximately 1 hour.
– In the community of Pampachiri you can buy tickets to the 7 Colors Mountain. You can also rent a horse or buy products before the hike.
– The hike to Cerro Colorado takes 2 hours depending on the physical condition of the visitor. The ascent is difficult, but worth it.
If you don’t have a tour booked, when you arrive in Cuzco you can bargain for a taxi for the whole day to take you to Rainbow Mountain. If you are in a group you can easily split the money between everyone, but if you are travelling alone, you can ask at your hostel/hotel if they know other people who would like to join.
Having a taxi for the day means you can negotiate the money as well as the pick-up time. You will have more freedom to enjoy the views if you arrive before the tour companies or later after they leave. They usually arrive at the lookout around 10am and 12am and leave at lunchtime.
The cost will be about 300 soles / 75 dollars approximately) for the whole day, plus entrance fees (10 soles / 2.5 dollars) and meals. It’s less economical, but I think it might be worth it if you’re in a group.
If you have a car, there is always the third option of going on your own, however, it is not advisable because the roads are not in good condition before reaching the parking lot of Rainbow Mountain.
How many hours should a person spend on Rainbow Mountain?
Rainbow Mountain will take you a full day, but it is definitely worth the effort. The trip up there is an experience in itself and the incredible view from the top is the perfect way to end the adventure.
Vinicunca does not have a defined schedule. The visits are exclusive during the day and part of the afternoon, due to the extremely cold weather when the sun goes down.
The tours to the Mountain of the 7 Colors of 1 day have an approximate schedule of 14 hours (from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
On the highest peak of Rainbow Mountain, the temperature drops below 0 (zero) degrees at night. It is advisable for hikers to be aware of this fact beforehand if they are planning to reach Vinicunca from a multi-day trek on Ausangate.
Care must be taken when trying to maintain the oxygen level at such a high altitude. Usually, guides do not advise visitors to stay at the top for more than 10-15 minutes, as breathing starts to become difficult due to the lack of oxygen.
What is the closest city to Rainbow Mountain?
It is from Cusco that Rainbow Mountain is almost always visited. Cusco is the closest big city, but there are also several ways to visit the mountain from there: by long distance bus, by local bus and by private tour/transfer.
All tours to Rainbow Mountain depart from the city of Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire and the closest city to Machu Picchu and many of Peru’s most famous attractions.
This natural wonder is about 140 kilometers southeast of Cusco.
Duration of the trip: 6.5 hours.
It is possible, though rarely done, to visit Rainbow Mountain from Puno en route to Cusco. Buses leaving the Terminal Terrestre bound for Cuzco usually follow highway 3S north: ask to be dropped off at the village of Checacupe, which is reached after about 4.5 hours. From there, taxis are waiting to take you to the starting point of the trek: almost two hours of travel.
How is Rainbow’s past presented to visitors?
The Vinicunca Mountain, or Mountain of the Seven Colors, is one of the most amazing natural wonders on Earth. It is part of the Peruvian Andes and was hidden under ice and snow until recently exposing the geological wonder, which has now become one of the most popular attractions in the city of Cusco. It is possible to climb the mountain, but it is important to note the reason why we can now do so.
Peruvians believe that the mountain is sacred, this should be kept in mind when visiting and act respectfully in accordance with local traditions.
According to a Forbes article, “the rainbow coloration in the stratigraphic layers of Mount Ausangate is largely due to weathering and mineralogy. The red coloration of the sedimentary layers usually indicates iron oxide as a trace mineral. Just as a nail oxidizes and turns red when it rusts, iron-rich sediments change when exposed to oxygen and water”. These stratigraphic layers have been hidden and protected under the ice of a glacier in the Peruvian Andes and can only now be seen.
The great and renowned magazine considers that Vinicunca has the undeserved reputation of looking better in photos than it does in real life: “However, when the sun shines, the peak also known as the Mountain of Seven Colors more than lives up to its nickname. A three-hour drive from Cuzco and a demanding hike to an altitude of over 4,000 meters will take you to the perfect spot from which to view the multicolored mountain. Sands of shades of red and yellow, pastel pink and mint green – caused by oxidized iron sediments – stretch over the peak. And while you’re unlikely to be alone, it’s worth climbing the last few metres for better views over the heads of other hikers. Afterwards, those who still have energy – and breath – can hike a little further to another descriptively named natural wonder: the Red Valley.”
Is Rainbow Mountain a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Rainbow Mountain is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
However, in the Cusco Region, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu along with the city of Cusco were the first sites in Peru to enter the World Heritage List of Unesco, on December 9, 1983.
Likewise, in 2014, the Qhapaq Ñan: the great Inca road, which connected Cuzco with the rest of the Andean world, was also named Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.
Machu Picchu is listed as a Mixed (Cultural and Natural) World Heritage Site. Cusco is considered Cultural Patrimony of Humanity.
Peru has 13 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), of which eight are cultural, two natural and two mixed.
In South America, Peru is the country with the second most registered sites, after Brazil, and the fifth in the Americas.
World Heritage is the title conferred by Unesco to specific sites on the planet for the valuable natural and cultural legacy they represent for humanity.
Is Rainbow Mountain in danger?
Rainbow Mountain has two serious risks in its near future that must be taken into account.
Concession of Rainbow Mountain for mineral extraction.
On March 16, 2018, the metallic mining concession Red Beds, which is located in the territories of the Cusipata and Pitumarca districts with an area that covers the entire Rainbow Mountain and overlaps with the peasant communities of Chillihuani and Pampachiri, was granted to the Canadian company Camino Minerals Corporation.
On May 21, after the rejection and indignation caused by the news, the company informed the Regional Government of Cusco of its renunciation of the concession. However, the Regional Government indicated that it is the Ministry of Energy and Mines who will have to take the administrative actions to recover possession of these lands. The National Chamber of Tourism of Peru (Canatur) expressed its deep concern about the management of Vinicunca, one of the most important components of the new tourist offer of the country.
On the other hand, more and more visitors are flocking to the site, which means that the ground is wearing away. As long as we stick to the designated path, no harm will be done to the mountain itself, nor to the red valley next to it.
When you visit the mountain you will see that you are not even allowed to touch it. The more people do so, the more it will gradually erode and lose the beautiful appearance it has now.
It is also home to many alpacas and llamas. They do not usually graze or spend time on the mountain, but can be found along the trail. Protecting their natural habitat should be a priority, so keep the trail clean and well maintained.
Can you suffer from altitude sickness while hiking Rainbow Mountain?
The Vinicunca is one of the mountains that make up the Cordillera del Vilcanota, whose highest peak is the snow-capped Ausangate. These landscapes exceed 5 thousand meters of elevation. Because of this it is possible to suffer agitation when breathing due to the low atmospheric pressure and the low level of oxygen in the environment.
As long as you take it easy and have acclimatized for 2 or 3 days in Cuzco, you should not suffer from altitude sickness.
There are travel agencies that recommend, to start the hike, to be at least 12 years old and that people over 60 years old bring a medical certificate of good physical condition before leaving.
Likewise, people with hypertension, asthma, diabetes or heart problems and pregnant women.
Miguel is a professional tour guide from Cusco, Peru, with almost 20 years of experience leading tours and a deep knowledge of Peru’s cultural and ecological diversity. He is also an advocate of ecotourism and cultural sensitivity and has lectured on these topics in the US and Europe. He co-founded Evolution Treks Peru, a worker-owned travel company based in Cusco.