If you have an extra day in Cusco and don’t know what to do after your visit to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley,  consider a day trip to Rainbow Mountain. The hike to this incredible colored mountain and surrounding valley will leave you breathless – literally. With an altitude of over 17,000 ft above sea level, the the long trek up is worth the beautiful landscapes. Below you’ll find all the necessary information required for a perfect Rainbow Mountain day trip from Cusco.

Ausangate Vinicunca 4 Days/3 Nights, Cusco

What is Rainbow Mountain?

Rainbow Mountain is a colorful mountainside located within the Peruvian Andes. Although it’s real name is Vinicunca it was nicknamed Rainbow Mountain when it started getting popular with travelers in the area.

The “painted” mountain is a geological phenomenon considered to be a sacred deity of Cusco by the locals. Sitting at 17,060 feet, it’s a site of daily worship and annual events such as the Star Snow festival for the Quechua pilgrims at the end of May.

For those curious about the geology of the area, the subduction zone of the Nazca plate underneath the South American plate generated uplift and significant volcanism. Therefore, this caused rare and unique mineral deposits across these mountains over millions of years of geological history and environmental conditions.

visit rainbow mountain

Do I Need a Guide to Visit Rainbow Mountain?

Yes, we recommend hiring a local guide or taking a tour with a local agency. The hike to the top is not easy. The long climb, unstable weather conditions, and high altitude can be a challenge for even experienced hikers. Not only this, but the hiking trail to the mountain is not marked and is hard to find.

You can book a tour online with Keteka. Our day trip to Rainbow Mountain offers a local professional and experienced English-speaking guide along with all the necessary equipment, private transportation to and from Cusco, as well as a nice breakfast and lunch.

Alternatively, you can book a tour with one of the local agencies in Cusco when you land. Choose your tour company carefully as there are quite a lot in town and safety is important. Many agencies will hand off customers to other companies so make sure you know who is running your tour and look up reviews beforehand.

Best Time to Visit Rainbow Mountain

We recommend hiking Rainbow Mountain during the dry months between May and September. Although if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, April and October are also a good choice.

Be prepared for sun, rain, and snow – all in one day. The weather is so unpredictable and you never know what you’ll get. If you’re lucky, dry conditions and sun the entire day will help for a pleasant hike up, but due to the high altitude and cold mornings, you can expect to see snow.

rainbow mountain day trip from cusco

Rainbow Mountain Altitude

As we’ve mentioned above the altitude is quite intense here. You should spend as long as possible adjusting to the high altitude in Cusco. Try to plan your Rainbow Mountain excursion towards the end of your stay in Cusco and, if you can, take altitude tablets a day before your trip.

If you’re still concerned about the altitude, don’t worry too much. You can rent a horse at any point along the way there as well as back. You do not have to hire one before the trek but make sure to bring some Peruvian soles just in case.

Traveler Tip: Make sure to drink lots of water the night before and keep hydrated throughout the day. Avoid alcohol and red meat the day before.

What should I pack?

 

As the fourth largest mountain in Peru, Rainbow mountain never disappoints. Not only is the destination and unique colors worth the trek, but the fantastic views, wild animals, and local community makes the journey just as, if not more unbelievable than the journey.

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