The first thing to know about Rainbow Mountain is that it is a range of mountains, not a single mountain. There is more than one Rainbow Mountain. If you want to see "the" Rainbow Mountain portrayed on Instagram, that one is called Vinicunca. The other route with "light" hiking is called Palccoya. I described both routes below.
Colors at the Rainbow Mountain. The vibrant images you see on social media are likely enhanced by editing software. The true colors of the Rainbow Mountain are hues of earthy tones created by the mineral content of the soil. The depth of color can be affected by the angle of the sun, the amount of cloud cover and other weather-related conditions.
All our day trips to Rianbow Mountain are small, private groups. We believe that having a private guide is key to having a safe and comfortable trip. Due to extreme high altitude over 16,500 ft/ 5000 m, it's important to wear warm layers, sturdy shoes and socks, hats and gloves. By leaving Cusco at 5AM, our groups are likely to arrive at the parking areas before other groups and large buses.
Rustic restrooms are available. Keep in mind that running water has "not a prayer," and regular maintenance is not likely. Sound like fun? Then you should keep reading.
Can you tie the knot on Rainbow Mountain?
Yes! We're happy to report that it is possible to arrange a shaman-escorted ceremony near the rainbow. Follow this link to read more
about our 1-day wedding ceremonies for adventurous romantics!
Choose from two routes. One involves hiking and the other not so much.
Rainbow Mountain Day Trip: 5AM-4PM Altitude 16,000 ft. Begins and ends from your hotel in Cusco
Adios driver and English-speaking tour guide will pickup from your hotel in Cusco and begin driving 3.5-4 hours. You may stop in small villages on the way to use the restroom. (Ask your hotel to provide box breakfast) There are two routes to choose from for the Rainbow trip:
#1- Vinicunca Pass - (this is the route you see on Instagram) Most popular and requires about 3 hours of hiking roundtrip. 2 hours up and 1 hour down. Horses/mules are usually available to rent. Wranglers will have their horses saddled and waiting for tourists to pay to ride 1 way up to the viewpoint. When you rent a horse, (pay the wrangler in cash) the wrangler leads the animal while you ride. These animals are small, working farm animals, not steeds of speed and pedigree. The horse tack is very basic. Horses are not recommended for extremely large people. We cannot reserve or guarantee that horses/mules are available. You show up and get what you get. The trails can be muddy and rough due to the horses. Horses can be ridden one way. You're expected to hike back down.
#2- Palccoyo - Light Hiking. Includes a drive through the stunning Red Valley up to the parking area. From there it's a short 10 minute walk up stone steps to a flat landing for your first view of the colored strata characteristic of the rainbow mountain. The locals have built a beautiful stone path that gradually goes up to a higher saddle to get closer to the view and access to enter the "Piedra de Bosque." (Stone Forest). There are no horses at this location. The amount of hiking you do is up to you. And it's possible that your group could break into two groups, if a couple of you want to enter the Stone Forest. Anyone who is capable of hiking around the Machu Picchu ruins should be able to navigate the terrain.
Rainbow Mountain Climate/ Weather: conditions at high altitude are unpredictable and subject to change quickly. Your chances of seeing the rainbow are good during the dry season from April through December, but can't be guaranteed.
Keep in mind that the intense colors you see on social media are enhanced by editing software. Rainbow Mountain true colors are earthy and can be affected by sun and cloud conditions.
Not responsible for the weather. At high altitude the conditions can be cloudy, foggy, snowy and colors may not be visible. No refunds are available. Best season to go is dry season from April to November.
2-Day Rainbow Mountain and Qeswachaka Rope Bridge Mini-Adventure
We can turn the 1-day trip to Rainbow Mountain into a 2-day mini-adventure by combining it with a trip to Qeswachaka Rope Bridge
. This bridge is part of the original network of old Inca roads. Every June, 4 local communities come together to replace the rope bridge. The bridge is open the rest of the year for visitors to explore. This trip includes 1 night in an authentic Qechua adobe house in a small village on the way.
Day 1 - Drive from Cusco to Rainbow Mountain 3.5 hours through the picturesque Red Valley to the parking area. where you begin exploring on foot. After 1-2 hours of wandering, you return to the van and begin the drive to a small Qechua village stopping for picnic lunch in a picturesque setting on the way. Settle into the (unheated) adobe home which is now used as a "tambo," where you experience 1 night in an authentic qechua village.
Overnight in unheated adobe house in warm beds. Flushing toilets, but no hot water. Hot dinner inlcluded.
Day 2 - After breakfast in the house, you begin a 2 hour drive to the Qeswachaca rope bridge. Hike around the bridge, then drive back to the adobe house where your lunch will be waiting.
Return to your hotel in Cusco by 5-6PM. Includes meals: 1B + 2L + 1D)
For information on cost and scheduling, please contact jacquie @ adiosadventuretravel.com / 757-714-6649
The cost for a private 2-day trip for 2 people is $492 each.
Includes: private van, driver, English-speaking guide, chef, meals 1-breakfast + 2 lunches + 1 dinner, drinking water refills, entrance fees, 1 night accommodation, use of trekking poles, bedding
note: house has electricity and cold water hand pump. It is not heated and there are no hot showers.
Not included: tips, travel insurance, Cusco hotels,
BOOK AND PAY FOR YOUR 1-DAY RAINBOW MOUNTAIN EXCURSION NOW. AFTER CLICKING ON THE BUY BUTTON YOU WILL BE TAKEN TO THE CHECKOUT PAGE.
PLEASE IGNORE THE "QUANTITY" BUTTON.
1-Day Rainbow Mountain Trip for 4-5 People
1-Day Rainbow Mountain Trip for 2-3 People