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The Rainbow Mountain in Peru

The Rainbow Mountain in Peru are a must-see for any traveler who happens to be in the area. Located in Cusco, Peru, a region known for its stunning natural beauty, these mountains are no exception.

Rainbow Mountains of Peru
Rainbow Mountains of Peru

The Rainbow Mountains are in the are of Ausangate Mountain, the classic and the most popular is known as Vinicuna—and they’re best viewed during the dry season (May through September) when their colors are most vibrant and striking.

Hiking here is fairly easy; though there are some notable ascents (including one that requires you to cross a narrow pass), the trails aren’t too steep or technical. Most people can walk them without any trouble at all!

It should be noted that although it’s possible to visit these mountains on your own, hiring a guide will help make sure you don’t get lost or overlooked by local authorities while exploring this remote region of Peru.

Vinicunca, Peru

Located in the Cusco region of Peru, these mountains are part of the Ausangate mountain range. The highest point is called Huascarán at 6,768 meters (22,205 feet). Also known as Mount Huascarán or Cerro Huascaran, this peak is also recognized by its Quechua name Wankarani.

Rainbow Mountain in Cusco
Vinicunca, Peru

Most commonly known by locals as Montaña de Siete Colores (the Mountain of Seven Colors) and by travelers around the world as Rainbow Mountains of Perú or Vinincunca Mountain, the geographic wonder is famous for its rainbow coloring, a surreal natural phenomenon of mineral deposits scattered throughout the sandstone rock.

The Rainbow Mountain in Peru, known as Vinicunca. It is one of the most impressive mountains in the Cusco region, located near Ausangate Mountain, south of the city of Cusco.

The area covered by Vinicunca National Park has a wide variety of vegetation zones ranging from local crops to high-mountain grassland and alpine tundra. The park contains several lakes formed during glacial periods when large blocks of ice were deposited on the ground forming moraines that became buried in sediment over time.

Overview

Vinicunca, also known as Rainbow Mountain, is a mountain in the Cusco region of Peru. The peak’s name comes from its colorful appearance due to minerals that are exposed at the surface. It has been described as an “ecological reserve” and attracts many tourists each year.

In these mountains we can see alpacas, llamas and other native animals of this region, along with them the most amazing landscapes of the earth and snow-capped mountains at more than 5,200 meters above sea level.

Highlights

  • The rainbow mountains of Peru are located in the Andes of Cusco, Vinicunca is the most popular one.
  • You can see unique Andean wildlife. 
  • Visit the Red Valley, which is like stepping foot on Mars (more details below).
  • This region was once part of the Inca Empire and still contains some ruins from that time period today such as Machu Picchu.

Location

 It is located in the Andes mountain range, very close to Ausangate, in the Cusco region, between Cusipata District, province of Quispicanchi, and Pitumarca

Altitude

Vinicunca stands more than 17,000 feet above sea level, the highest point, which is the Vinicunca viewpoint, is located at 17060 ft. (5200 m.a.s.l.). 

Map

Rainbow Mountain Peru Map - Cusipata Route
Vinicunca map route from Cusipata

History

According to some geologists from the Peruvian Geological Society, Vinicunca, like many other mountains in the Andes, was formed by the movement of tectonic plates that lifted marine sediments to become imposing mountains.

On the other hand, the coloration of Vinicunca is the result of the oxidation of certain minerals under the action of erosion, humidity and other geological factors of the region.

At one time in our history, the mountain was covered by blocks of ice: it was a snow-capped mountain. However, due to the effects of global warming and climate change, the ice has disappeared and left in its place this magical landscape that shows us the beauty and ecological fragility of planet Earth.

When was discovered the Rainbow Mountain Vinicunca?

Its beginnings date back to the beginning of 2016, when some Ausangate Trek travelers published photos of its presence on social networks. Many wondered where it was, even Peruvians and Cusqueños did not know of its existence until it became popular in early 2016 through social networks.

When is the best time to visit Vinicunca mountain?

From June to August, the weather is warm and dry. This is the best time of year to visit Vinicunca mountain, as it’s easy to climb and there are fewer crowds.

It’s possible to climb in the spring and fall, but this is less popular because it’s a bit colder up there during those months.

For best results, visit in the Best time to go to Rainbow Mountains of Peru.

How to get to the classic Rainbow Mountains of Peru?

If you are looking for to travel Rainbow Mountains of Peru, here is a helpful guide about how to get to Rainbow Mountains of Peru from Lima and Cusco.

The easiest way is by plane. If you are in Lima, there are airplanes companies, also you can choose going by bus, there are many that leave every day from different stations depending on which direction you want to go. The main ones are: Cusco (roughly 14 hours), Arequipa (10 hours) and Puno (5 hours). The ticket costs around $40 USD for the journey by Bus. On airplane the cost is around $60 USD.

This spectacular mountain used to be an attraction on a 4-day trek to Ausangate. Over the years, this mountain gained popularity on its own. Today, the most widespread way to visit this summit is through a tour. There are 1 and 2 day services available. Most of them include transportation, food, entrance fees and a professional guide.

Classic Itinerary

Breakfast

You will be picked up at your hotel in Cuzco at 6:00 AM and transferred to a van that will take you to the village of Checacupe. The drive will take about 4 hours, but the views of the mountains and valleys are spectacular.

Arrival in Checacupe

You will be taken directly to a local restaurant where you can have breakfast. This is not included in the price of your tour, but lunch is included after returning from Raqchi, so it makes sense for everyone if you each pay for your own meal here.

Visit to the village of Checacupe

Your guide will show you this traditional village with its brightly colored houses, streets full of stores selling handicrafts made by local artisans and many friendly people who speak Quechua instead of Spanish (the official language in Peru). There are also many churches here, as well as beautiful green fields full of corn or potatoes, a delicious food!

Hike to the top of Vinicunca – 7 Colors Mountain: 5,200 masl.

This will take from 1 hour to 2 hours of hiking.

Lunch

Lunch is around 2:00 in the afternoon.

Arrival to Cusco: The return time to Cusco is approximately 6:00 PM.

On your own

It is also possible to visit “Vinicunca” on your own. To do so, the visitor must take a bus to Sicuani from the city of Cusco (2 hours and 40 minutes away). Once there, take a bus to the town of Quesiuno. Then start a hike (you can also hire a horseback transportation) to the 7 Colors Mountain. The entrance fee is 10 soles.

This option is the least recommended.

Cost of a trek to Vinicunca

TourCost
Classic tour to Rainbow Mountains fo Peru – Shared$30 USD / person
Classic tour to Rainbow Mountains fo Peru – Private$80 USD / person
2 Days of trek to Vinicunca and Red Valley – Exclusive$250 USD / person
Ausangate Trek and Rainbow Mountains of Peru – Exclusive$500 USD / person

Palccoyo Mountain: The best alternative to Vinicunca

Palccoyo Mountain
Palccoyo Mountain, Peru

Located just outside Cusco City limits, Palccoyo Mountain offers an impressive view from its peak along with a much shorter hike than that required by Vinicunca. Additionally, it’s closer than most people think because once you reach your destination there are plenty of restaurants and hostels where you can stay overnight on your way back down.

Highlights

It is the best alternative to Vinicunca.
You don’t need much physical effort.
The altitude is lower than Vinicunca.
There are not many tourists on the route.
The scenery is just as beautiful as Vinicunca.

For best results, visit our post of Palccoyo Mountain.

Overview

Palccoyo Mountain is located 3 hours by car from Cusco. It’s not as popular as Vinicunca, but it’s still worth visiting. Palccoyo Mountain is not as high as Vinicunca, nor is it quite so colorful. The best time to go is during sunrise or sunset when you can see the colors change in front of your eyes!

Location

The mountain of Palccoyo is located in the Vilcanota mountain range, in the district of Pitumarca, province of Canchis, south of the mountain of Arco Iris Cusco. About 3 hours by car from Cusco.

Altitude

The maximum altitude reached when visiting Palccoyo is 4,900 masl, while Vinicunca reaches 5,200 masl.

Map

Palccoyo Mountain Map

The Red Valley of Peru

Red Valley Cusco
Red Valley of Peru

The red valley is located in the province of Cusco, Peru. It is known as one of the most beautiful places in the world and has been used by many people as a destination for hiking and trekking.

This place is so incredible that it amazes everyone who goes, it is a completely red valley, some say it is the valley of Mars. When you get there you will see that what we say in this blog about the rainbow mountains of Peru does not do it justice, not even the pictures can show how amazing it is. A unique place on earth.

Highlights

  • Unique and incredible place.
  • Very close to Vinicunca, do not miss it.
  • It has an entrance fee of 15 soles.
  • From Vinicunca it takes less than 20 minutes to get there.

For best results, visit our post of The Red Valle of Cusco.

Location

It is located near Vinicuna and Nevado Ausangate, Pitumarca, Cusco. Located in the same mountain range as Vinicunca, about 30 minutes from the viewpoint of Montaña de colores.

Altitude

The altitude of the Red Valley is 5,000 meters above sea level (15,500 ft).

Map

Red Valley Map, Cusco, Peru

The best way to get Red Valley of Cusco?

The best way to get to the red valley of Peru is to extend your Vinicunca tour – classic 7 color mountain trek for about 2 hours and get to know this beautiful valley.

Another option is to hire a tour in Cusco or Online that takes us to this destination. It is not recommended to go on your own.

Pallay Punchu – The last discovered rainbow mountain in Cusco

Pallay Punchu of Apu Tacllo
Pallay Punchu, Peru

Pallay Punchu is one of the rainbow mountains of Peru that was discovered in mid 2020, is another mountain that has unique and characteristic colors of a garment of the Andes, which is called Punchu or Poncho, which is a kind of coat.

Highlights

  • Very new, discovered in 2020.
  • It takes about 4 hours from Cusco to get there by car.
  • It has an incredible view of the Layo Lagoon.

Overview

This destination is visited by few tourists, it is a good option for those who want to escape from the crowds and experience new routes.

We can say that this natural attraction is located at a lower altitude than the other rainbow mountains of Peru, about 4,700 meters above sea level.

Location and altitude

Pallay Punchu mountain is located in the district of Layo, province of Canas, Cusco at about 4700 meters above sea level. The arrival time is approximately 3 hours, leaving from the city of Cusco.

Map

Pallay Punchu Rainbow Mountain in Peru
Pallay Punchu Map

The best way to get Pallay Punchu?

The best option to get to this place is to hire a specialized tour or guide in the city of Cusco.

From Cusco it will take us about 4 hours by car and 1 hour walk to get to Pallay Punchu.

The Rainbow Mountains of Peru have become a popular travel destination in recent years. Travel blogs, social media, and even travel videos on YouTube have helped boost the popularity of this site. The mountains are also the subject of many colorful photographs taken by photographers from all around the world who visit this unique landscape.

The rainbow mountains of Peru have become popular on social media, and for good reason. The colorful peaks are breath-taking, and the views are worth sharing. As you can see from these pictures, the rainbow coloration gives it an otherworldly appearance that makes it look as if we’re looking at something from another planet!

Is it easy to hike Rainbow Mountains of Peru?

The hike has a duration of 2 or 3 hours (depending on the physical condition of the tourist) is not dangerous and requires a moderate to high physical effort. The main difficulty is the altitude, since there are stretches of considerable uphill and downhill slopes. However, with a good acclimatization it will not be so difficult, also another factor against it is the cold weather and the icy wind.

What is the best time to visit Rainbow Mountains of Peru?

The best time to visit Rainbow Mountains of Peru is May to September. The weather is perfect, with sunny days and cool nights, making it a great place for trekking through the mountains. In fact, this area can get very hot during the day in March, April and May so if you’re looking for cooler temperatures then June is another good choice!

The rainy season runs from December until March when there can be rain on more than half the days – though it doesn’t usually last long so don’t worry too much about getting soaked! You might want to do some research before deciding on your trip though as there have been reports of flooding in recent years due to heavy rainfall (especially during El Niño years).

The dry season runs from June until December but note that it gets pretty chilly at night during this time! If you don’t mind slightly cooler weather and being able see some stunning sunsets then come explore these amazing natural formations in October or November when they’ll be at their most colourful

Why is rainbow mountains of Peru colorful?

Rainbow mountains are the result of geological activity. The colored mountains were formed by the minerals present in the mountain. The different colors come from the different minerals that end up forming as a result of this process. For example, orange comes from hematite (an iron oxide), purple from manganese oxide, green from calcite or malachite (a copper carbonate) and red from hematite or goethite (both iron oxides).

How high is rainbow mountains of Peru?

MountainHight – Altitude
Vinicunca – Classic Rainbow Mountain of Peru17,060 ft (5,200 m.a.s.l.)
Palccoyo Mountain16,076.12 ft (4,900 m.a.s.l.)
Red Valley16,404 ft (5,000 m.a.s.l.)
Pallay Punchu15,419 ft (4,700 m.a.s.l.)
Cusco11,151 ft (3,399 m.a.s.l.)
Machu Picchu7,972 ft (2,430 m.s.s.l.)

How far is rainbow Mountains Of Peru from Machu Picchu?

MountainDistance from Machu Picchu
Vinicunca – Classic Rainbow Mountain of Peru155 km (96 mi)
Palccoyo Mountain170 km (106 mi)
Red Valley156 km (97 mi)
Pallay Punchu210 km (130 mi)
Cusco75 km (46 mi)
How far is rainbow Mountains Of Peru from Machu Picchu
How far is rainbow Mountains Of Peru from Machu Picchu?

FAQS

Is Rainbow Mountains of Peru worth it?

Yes, it will show you amazing views of the Peruvian Andes and you will reach 5200 meters above sea level.

Why is rainbow mountains Peru colorful?

For the minerals it presents are, that s: red clay, fangolitas (mud) and arilitas (sand), quartz, marls and clays of the superior tertiary.

Where is Rainbow Mountains Peru located?

It is located in Cusco – Perú, about 3 hours by car from the city of Cusco.

How high rainbow mountains Peru?

The Rainbow Mountain in Peru hight is 17,060 ft.

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