The Rainbow Mountain in Peru is a natural place that is about 17,060 feet above sea level, is one of the most visited places after Machu Picchu. It is located in the middle of the Andes and this makes it a unique and incredible place to visit in Cusco.
The Rainbow Mountain o Vinicunca is a geological marvel in Peru and is just a touch lower than Mount Everest’s base camp. It’s higher than the highest peaks in the United States and Canada. As anyone who has hiked the most popular colorful mountains in South America will tell you.
It is arduous to reach the top as the air progressively gets thinner causing breathing to become difficult. Even after a few days spent acclimating, the hardiest adventurers tend to have trouble conversing while climbing. The highlight, however, is a beautiful colored mountain that stands out amongst the land. These rocky strata, put in view by orogenic action, are caused by the various deposits of minerals and pigments which create a vivid landscape.
It is surprising that until recently, this geological miracle was practically unknown. Rainbow mountain was ‘discovered’ in 2015, as this was the year its popularity boomed; however, Rainbow Mountain has always existed.
The vibrant colors of the mountain were hidden for centuries under thick layers of Andean snow and ice. Gradually the ice and snow melted away leaving behind a mountain painted like a rainbow.
This mountain, also known as Vinicunca in its indigenous language, is in the heart of the longest mountain range on the planet (7,240 km) (CORDILLERA OF ANDES) and perhaps that is why it is also one of the best treasures. All those who have been there agreed that the place has soul, energy, and magic that leaves behind an unforgettable memory.
Can you go on our own if you know the location of the Rainbow Mountain in Peru?
Native local Pronunciation Vinicunca (Quechua), Montana de Colores (Spanish). Here we also recommend you to visit the Red valley or Valle Rojo (Spanish) both of them are in the seem direction it just longer distance to hike but worth the effort to go.
This amazing place is located in the Andes of Peru, in the department of Cusco and Canchis province, 5,200 m.s.n.m., an area of considerable elevation. It belongs to the Village of Cusipata and Chillyhuany Comunity who call it the ‘Cerro Colorado’. Because it sits on its way to the imposing snow-capped Ausangate, this beautiful and colorful mountain range was known much earlier by adventurers who dared to take the Ausangate trek. The photos they posted on Facebook and Instagram, made it gain popularity. Since 2015 it is a well-visited tourist attraction.
How is the weather at the top of Vinicunca Mountain in Cusco?
Weather can change in seconds when you’re high up. The climate is typical of the highest areas of Cusco, is cold. Rain, windy and altitude sickness (or soroche) can be the biggest obstacles for travelers. The temperature in the Mountain of seventh Colors from 5oC to 18oC equivalent to -5 degrees Celsius. The best time to take this adventure is during the dry season (April to October) when river rainfall is less likely. If you plan to make your visit during the rainy season (November to March) bring with you a rain poncho.
How is the Weather on the Rainbow Mountain in Peru Around the Year?
Peru’s climate varies by season and according to the regions (in short terms unpredictable weather all over the country).
The coastal region (Lima) has two clear seasons.
Summer: From (December – March) Summer temperatures in this region can reach 80°F.
Winter: (May – October). Winter is generally damp and chilly, with temperatures dropping to 53°F. This region sees little rain but can see mist and drizzle during the winter.
Nazca Lines: The coastal area of Ica (Paracas, Nazca) enjoys warm dry weather throughout the year. With average temperatures around 75 – 80°F.
Cusco Highland: The highlands region of Peru (Cuzco, Puno, Urubamba, Machu Picchu) has a dry temperate climate that also experiences two distinct seasons.
The dry season: (May – October) consists of sunny days and cold nights with very little rain.
The rainy season: In the highlands runs from December to March. Temperatures can change drastically during the day in this region, with highs around 65°F and lows of 35°F during the same day.
Amazon Rain Forest: The jungle region (Amazon River) is tropical and humid. Throughout the year temperatures range from the mid to upper 80s during the day and drop into the 70s during the night.
The summer months (April – October) are considered the dry season, though despite the name it should be noted that it rains two-thirds of the year in the rainforest. The rainy season (November – March) sees frequent showers and high river levels.
Elevation and Kilometres of Hiking (MILES)
- Beginning and elevation of the trek 4900m / 16,076f
- Highest elevation: 5,200 meters or a bit over 17,000f above sea level,
- Miles of Hiking: 6.214 miles – 10 km
- Time approximately: 3 till to rich the top
Flora And Fauna in Vinicunca Local community.
The incredible geography of the place is the scene of typical animals from high Andean areas such as llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas. The inhabitants of the area breed horses to offer them as transport to visitors. Due to the height of this region, the straw or natural Andean grass of the Andes abounds.
What To Pack And Dress For This Rainbow Mountain Trip?
- Be sure to bring a small backpack with lots of water, snacks and toilet roll.
- Water bottle or Camelback
- Comfortable hiking boots
- Toilet paper and a small plastic bag for waste
- T-shirts/Hiking pants and socks
- Fleece/ Thermals
- Warm clothes, down jacket mostly on the top temperature drop around -5º Celsius.
- Waterproof gloves
- Hand Sanitizer
- A rain jacket,
- Also, bring a spare pair of socks just in case!
Should I Acclimatize for Altitude Sickness in Cusco and Rainbow Mountain – Peru?
If you are planning to hike within the Andes Mountain Range, the chances are you will be at high altitude, so acclimatizing is extremely important before you exert yourself at even higher altitudes. For those who have come from sea level, you will most definitely want to spend a couple of days getting used to it and if possible, go up gradually. Cusco stands at 3,399m – 11151 feet so even for those coming from Lima (1550m – 5085f). That can be quite an adjustment.
Try and beat the altitude by chewing on coca leaves – your tour leader will recommend you.
Over this Colorful mountain, the air is so thin that breathing is difficult. Even after a few days spent acclimating, even the hardiest adventurers tend to have trouble conversing while climbing. You will experience altitude sickness when you can’t get enough oxygen from the air, this will lead you to have symptoms such as a headache, loss of appetite, fatigue, dizziness, and lightheadedness, shortness of breath with exertion and finally, some people feel nauseous and vomit. so prepare yourself for this great adventure.
Choose the summer season for hiking the colorful mountain – best recommendation.
It’s highly advised not to go during wet weather, which is recommendable during the winter season, months November to March, as the path can become very muddy and eventually turns into a mudslide, which combined with jelly legs and may you end up sick or tired. In addition to this, due to its height. It’s hard to predict the visibility because sometimes it could be cloudy or rainy this advice is pretty important on your trip to Cusco Peru.
Peruvian Regulation About Drones while you are hiking along with this trip
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or “drone” technology has quickly become affordable and is increasingly popular with recreational users. While some countries have clear, established drone laws, others do not, or existing regulations are undergoing review and change. Travelers who wish to bring a drone on their trip are responsible to research and abide by the laws and regulations of the countries they are visiting, as well as to check with their airline(s) regarding their rules for transporting drones. Please note that tours are unable to extend the length of scheduled visits and stop to accommodate the use of drones.
what is the difference between the Red valley and Rainbow Mountain
Read valley is a colorful mountainside in the high Andes of Peru. In short, the mountain’s colors were formed by sedimentary mineral layers in the mountain that have been exposed by erosion. The Red Valley Mountain trailhead is located on the right side of the rainbow mountain 3-hour drive from Cusco. Where day trips have recently grown quite popular.
Peru’s Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca Mountain, has quickly risen to become a major touristic attraction for the country after being discovered for tourism only a few years ago. What was simply a tranquil mountain in the Andes, is now inundated every day with hundreds (thousands?) of tourists. They ascend in droves from Cusco to get their Instagramable shot of the colorful mountain.
Tour to Vinicunca
If you want to secure a trip with us, please contact us.
Highly recommended to leave Cusco for Rainbow Mountain in Peru at 3:30 am (tours operate every day. See here for more tour information (Contact Us). You can book via Contact Us. Who is the best Rainbow Mountain tour operator in the Cusco? Because this tour departs early, it guaranteed to be 1 of the first groups at the top Rainbow Mountain include Red Valley.
As well as they Carry oxygen tanks which are important as you do reach over 52oom – 17,060 feet above sea level! Not all tour companies offer this, so this is something to look out for when choosing the best Rainbow Mountain tour operator.
Early, around 03:00 am – 3:30 am, they will pick you up from your respective Hotels in Cusco to make the Rainbow Mountain trip. The initial transport will take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Firstly, they will pass through the District of CUSIPATA where we will stop for 30 minutes to have breakfast. From then they’ll continue onwards with the journey for 1 hour until we reach FULAWASIPATA. There, they will pause for a quick brief on how they will be carried out on your journey. You will begin the hike at the bottom of the Ausangate mountain range. This will be followed by an ascent of approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to the highest point of the Rainbow Mountain. Upon reaching the red hill, you’ll have time to soak in and take pictures of the beautiful scenery.
Finally, you’ll continue our journey with a 1-hour descent into the flat terrain and back to where the walk began, FULAWASIPATA. Here, the driver will be waiting for us to return to the District of CUSIPATA where we can enjoy 1 hour of lunch. Following lunch, we will return to Cusco, arriving at approx. 3:00 p.m.
NOTE 1: After Vinicunca, there is the additional trek into the Red Valley which is included in the tour. The duration of the walk is approximately 50 minutes include stoping and taking photos.
Technical explanation of how To Manage your Trip to the viewpoint of the Rainbow Mountain in Peru.
The part that some of you may be most concerned about, due to the altitude, is the trek to the main viewpoint. The good news is that it isn’t very far and will cause no issues for many. The dirt path trail to the top is flat for about 75% or so, with a gradual ascent for 15%, and then quite a tough steep ascent for the last 10% or 200-300 meters. At this height above sea-level, everyone will feel a little breathless at the beginning and on the last 10%. But if you have an ok level of fitness and have acclimatized it really shouldn’t be anything you can’t manage at a steady pace.
To give you an indication of times, you’ll walk to the top (with a few breaks along the way) in approx. 1 hour 45 mins, and zipped back down to the bus in 45 minutes; another 30 minutes or so for the ascent and descent is probably more realistic if you’re going at a slow pace. The trail is easy to follow and most guides will simply leave their tour members to walk alone at their own pace. However, if there is a lot of rain then the trail will quickly become a slippy, slidey, muddy bog to traverse.
Do we need entrance fees for Rainbow Mountain in Peru and the red valley?
The entrance fee to this Natural attraction is 10 soles for Red Valley (Montaña Rojo). And usually is included in most Rainbow Mountain Tour packages.
Visit the Official Tour Leaders Peru page for more information to help you prepare.
For trips like Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley. We highly recommend booking with www.tourleadersperu.com, the top-rated operator. The only one with oxygen tanks, walkie-talkie, fluent English Tour leader and a safety guarantee.
Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley tours cost an average $/60 pp all-inclusive,
Book your tour ahead of time for only $50PP if you are more than 8 people
Hire a Horse if you get dizzy or Tired
The rental of horses on the route costs S/ 80.00 or USD 25 round trip. If you want you can also rent it only a one-way trip and you would pay half price.
There’s the option to ride on horseback for the flatter sections of the climb it costs approximately. 40 or 30 Soles all depends on the distance.
Recommendations to have a great experience in Vinicunca
Spend a day or two acclimatizing in the city of Cusco. Wear warm clothes for the walk. If you do not consider yourself in good physical condition for the hike, rent a horse to one of the locals. That day, don’t forget a hat or cap, sunscreen, jacket, trousers, ideal trekking shoes and a poncho for rain.
If and when you are advised to have an early night before, do so! Also, having a couple of pints really won’t leave you in good stead the next day, that hangover will probably be magnified as the altitude increases, especially as you have to leave Cusco between 2:30 and 3:30 am!
FAQs About Vinicunca
It has large geomorphological units and materials from continental and marine environments ranging from the Precambrian (more than 600 million years ago) to the most recent deposits of the Quaternary.
Earthy brown color: fanglomerate composed of rock with manganese belonging to the Quaternary. Age: 1 to 2 million years.
Red color: composed of clays (iron) and clays belonging to the upper Tertiary. Age: 3 to 4 million years.
Green color: composed of Filitas substance, copper oxide slates. Age: 600 million years.
Pink color: composed of red clay, Fangolitas Substance (mud) and Arilites Substance (sand). Estimated age: 3 to 4 million years.
White color: limestone or limestone, white quality. Age: 400 million years.
Brown, brown and purple colors: Composed of lead and burning marshes, rich in calcium carbonate. Age: 80 to 90 million years.
Mustard yellow color: limestone with sulfur. Age: 80 to 90 million years.
It is located in the Peruvian Andes, in Cusco Region, about 3 hours drive from Cusco city.
It is about 17,060 feet above sea level.
The easy way to get to Vinicunca is by going with a travel agency on a full-day tour, we don’t recommend to go by your self.
The official name is Vinicunca, local people use the Quechua name (Winikunka).