Rainbow Mountain trek: how difficult is it to hike?

Uncover not long ago due to global warming, passing the red valley lays a colorful mountain featuring a rainbow known as Vinicunca by the locals, treasure with wonderful views of the snowcapped mountain Ausangate…and the Andean typical portrait.

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The Rainbow Mountain has become without any doubt in one of the main attraction in Cusco, and as many people you may wondering why and how really difficult is to hike. We present you the details you need to plan a day excursion towards this precious mountain that has capture so much attention. Decide if it’s worth the visit by knowing the rainbow mountain hike difficulty!


Altitude and Difficulty

  • Maximum altitude: Vinicunca viewpoint – 5200 masl/ 17060.4 ft.
  • Distance covered: 10 kms/6.2 mls. (5.5 hours walking approx.)
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

These two are incredible related to one another, at least in regards to the Rainbow Mountain. There are certainly different paths to reach Vinicunca, specially during dry season when definitely be more routes available and usually with less hiking time. 


In reality, what is the rainbow mountain difficulty?  The rainbow mountain is located even in a higher altitude than the city of Cusco which could represent an obstacle for some visitors as the hike itself it is pretty with 75% of the route mostly flat.


The starting point during the dry season is located a 100km from the village of Pampachiri in an altitude of 4400 masl. And if you already have notice that means you will be hiking for about 2 hours, reaching the top of 5200 masl, and this exactly why the rainbow mountain is quite challenging for many as it truly will demand your effort to kept going uphill during that period of time.


But do not worry, there are some tricks to help you reach the top:

  • – Hike the Rainbow mountain at least after two days of acclimatize yourself in the city of Cusco
  • – Renting a horse for a very reasonable price of 90 soles, also have in mind that by doing this you will be helping the community living on this area.
  • – Take your time and chew coca leafs to apace the struggles that you may be experience due to the altitude.

When is the best time to visit the Rainbow Mountain?

The best time to visit the Rainbow Mountain is during dry season (from May to October), when is unlikely to expect much rain but we highly encourage you to always be prepare, see below our packing list.


As the Rainbow mountain has become a “must do” attraction in Cusco, during high season (Jun, July and August); Vinicunca will bust with visitors from all over the world. On this matter we can only recommend you to pick months like May or October to visit Cusco and enjoy of an amazing weather and be a bit far from the peak season as well.


Visiting from Cusco?

The best way to visit Vinicunca is by hiring the services of a travel agency or a tour operator, prices are so competitive that it will be worth to invest on taking a tour rather than doing it by yourself. When hiring the service make sure the company is a safe one and re-confirm your pick up time the previous day.


Pick up times are usually from 4:00 to 5:00 am so make sure everything is perfectly coordinate and be on your pick up point on time, remember the sooner you get there you will have more chances to avoid the big masses. 


Also, it is possible to visit the mountain by yourself. You may want to arrange a transportation from Cusco to the starting point, by doing this make sure to coordinate with the driver to wait for you until finalizing the hike. Sometimes drivers misunderstand and leave, causing great struggles for visitors to come back to Cusco.


This article will interest you: When is the best time to visit Machu Picchu and Cusco?


What to bring?

We highly recommend to take a light backpack with the following items in it:


  • – Sunscreen with very high protection
  • – Waterproof light jacket or a poncho in case of a rainy day
  • – Cap or hat and sunglasses, as the sun can be very intense in this area
  • – Bottle of water
  • – Trekking pants will be ideal
  • – Waterproof hiking shoes
  • – Snacks
  • – Some cash
  • – To not forget your camera, to capture this incredible and memorable experience!

Palcoyo, Rainbow Mountain Range

If after much researching you decide that Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain is not for you, then you may want to visit Palcoyo instead. Palcoyo, the rainbow mountain range comprehend of 3 beautiful mountains featuring the rainbow colors similar to Vinicunca, with a privilege location right in front of amazing views of the Ausangate and the red valley.


Enjoy a less touristy and crowded destination and walk only for 30 min until you reach the Palcoyo viewpoint. These are some of the bright sides to visit this beautiful place, which is gaining little by little more attention. 

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