Palcoyo, the mountain range of colors or the rainbow mountains, is a set of 03 peaks that are located in the Andean mountain range, precisely in the district of Checacupe of the province of Canchis in the department of Cusco at an altitude of 4900 meters above sea level, framed in almost 9000 hectares of beautiful Andean landscapes, Its attractiveness lies in the similarity it has to the already famous Mountain of colors that is located about 20 kilometers away, because like this has a comprehensive mineral composition resulting in multiple colors that together resemble a rainbow whose background is a landscape of snowy mountain ranges to which once belonged because this impressive attraction is also a gift of global warming, as it was within sight when it thawed.
The Mountain of Palcoyo is located a few kilometers south of the famous 7 Colors Mountain. In the same mountain range of Vilcanota in the District of Pitumarca, province of Canchis, more than 110 km away.
|Duration of the hike.||From 1 to 1.5 hours (round trip)||From 4 to 6 hours, depending on the pace of the hike (round trip).|
|Physical difficulty||Download||High average|
|Maximum height||Approximately 4,900 masl.||Approximately 5,000 masl.|
|Best time of the year for the route||From April to November.||From April to November.|
|Weather||High altitude, low temperatures||High altitude, with low temperatures.|
Being located at 4,900 meters, the risk of suffering from puna is always present. However, since the hike is not steep and lasts a maximum of one hour, most travelers (regardless of age) will have no problems. The recommendation is always to spend at least two days in Cusco before traveling to Palcoyo to acclimatize the body. If you want more information on this subject, read our article on how to avoid altitude sickness. As for the cold, you must wear warm clothes due to the sub-zero temperatures in Palcoyo. A windbreaker is also recommended.
The physical effort and the time it takes to get to Palcoyo is much less than to get to Vinicunca; the latter also receives a large influx of tourists that detracts from the beauty of the natural landscape. With this, we do not mean that trekking to the Rainbow Mountain Vinicunca is not worth it if you are looking for a physical challenge; perhaps visiting Vinicunca makes more sense. The beauty of the Cordillera de Colores Palcoyo is that it is an excellent alternative for those who can’t or don’t want to wear themselves out physically to observe the same scenery they would see in Vinicunca.
When the number of visitors increased tremendously to the Mountain of the 7 Colors in 2017, the inhabitants of Palcoyo (an Andean community) realized that they, too, had an attraction that resembled the Mountain of the 7 Colors. They had the red Mountain of Palcoyo, which only they knew about.
They organized themselves internally. They understood the benefits of tourist activity. They began to promote and open the way to those red mountains, which are three in total, and still, as a plus, have their stone forest that completes the ornament of the landscape. This is how Palcoyo became known in 2018, traveled throughout Peru, and continued worldwide. Thanks to its visitors, more and more recommend an alternative tour to the Mountain of the 7 Colors.
As in the entire region, Palcoyo is governed by the two defined seasons that Cusco has; it is worth mentioning that the rainy season is between November and the first days of April, often accompanied by snow due to the altitude in which it is located, the remaining months, between the last days of April and the last days of October, the entire region is in a dry and cold period. Thus, considering the 4900 meters at which this place is located, it is customary to find an icy landscape whose thermal sensation does not exceed 15 degrees, even on one of the hottest days. Finally, due to the high altitude, don’t forget that solar radiation levels also increase considerably.
Visiting the mountains of Palcoyo is also a great experience, of all the attractions in Cusco. Here you walk away from the crowds of tourists. Palcoyo consists of three colorful mountains spread from south to north. All visitors from the beginning of the hike go up a path in the same direction until they reach the viewpoint of the third Mountain. From that point, there is the possibility to continue walking towards the striking peaks of sharp rock, known as the forest of stones, and otherwise return the same way.
If you want to reach the forest of stones, the highest point on this route is 4900 meters above sea level. You will have to follow the path that leads to it. The hike is partially light; only getting to the forest of stones demands a more significant effort, but it is not far; everything is possible. You can see the three mountains from the top and have a 360° view. If the day is clear, the snow-capped Ausangate will appear in the distance. So the experience of being in a quiet and serene place is the ultimate. You will find the presence of local people dressed in Andean costumes with one or two alpacas. If you dare to take a picture with them, you can ask for it and, in exchange, a small tip.
For some, the presence of the alpacas and their beauty, but the elegant landscape makes one think this is a small paradise. The llamas (lama glama), but mainly the alpacas (vicugna pacos), inhabit this area in greater quantity. It is not that they live their lives in the wild, but they are raised by the locals and serve as their sustenance. There are also foxes (dusicyon culpaeus) and chinchillas that rarely appear, and birds, such as the Cara Cara (phalcoboenus megalopteros), Huallatas (chloephaga melanoptera) Etc. And speaking of vegetation in Palcoyo and its surroundings, we can mention the abundant paja brava (Stipa ichu) and grasslands that are food for camelids, some cacti, and all kinds of herbs that grow at ground level.
Good hiking equipment is always necessary, no matter how easy the hike may seem. Never underestimate and walk confidently because we do not know what can happen. Here are the recommendations, the essentials you should bring to Palcoyo Mountain.
What can you see in Palcoyo?
The forest of stones of Palcoyo is a crucial component that embellishes, even more, this incredible landscape. It becomes exciting to pay attention to some of the rocks that compose it because, in them, we will find what seems to be some small fossilized marine creatures, which indicates that these rocks probably have a sedimentary origin, that is to say, that they come from a marine bottom but by the caprices of the geologic formation of the Andes ended up at this great height.
Three mountains of colors:
Yes, indeed, in Palcoyo, you will see not one but three mountains of colors that adorn this already magnificent high Andean landscape, which is why it has been called, as we said, the mountain range of colors.
Very close to Palcoyo, there is a small tributary of water that increases its flow during the rainy season, dragging with it the reddish soil of the land where it is located. With it, this river takes the same coloration that has attracted the attention of many visitors.
Located in the heart of traditional Andean communities, Palcoyo, it will be possible to see entire herds of llamas and alpacas that graze in the surrounding areas, which are an essential part of the local economy and even in the year 2o22 are still used as pack animals.
If you do not have a vehicle, you must take a bus in the direction of Combapata, which you can take from the coliseum closed house of the youth about 10 minutes from the historic center of Cusco. After the three hours of travel, you will do, upon arriving at the village, you must hire mobility that will take you to the same attraction that is located; once there, you will have to make a 40-minute walk and finally contemplate all the beautiful scenery in the appropriate time, and return by the same route until you finally arrive in the city of Cusco.
Remember that it is pertinent that you start your activity very early in the morning, around 4:30 am. Don’t forget to bring dried fruit, cookies, and water; likely, local food is not the best option.
With the services of a travel agency you can make this trip with peace of mind, with all services included, many companies are willing to provide the service, in our case we have the following itinerary:
The route that undertakes the journey in the direction of this impressive landscape will begin at approximately 4:00 am, making a journey of roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes to the town of Cusipata, where the related food services will be provided.
After the prudent time in the establishment, we will continue directly for one hour more, passing by the town of Pitumarca to finally enter and shortly after arriving at the main attraction, the colorful mountain ranges, a fascinating spectacle, you will not have to do more walking than necessary to properly appreciate the landscape because the mobility arrives in practice to the same attraction. After a prudent time in the place, we will return on the same route, making the corresponding stop to have lunch.
We will arrive in the city around 17:00 hours.
Some curiosities about Palcoyo
Who, when, and how was it discovered:
Vinincunca, or The original Mountain of colors, tube a great acceptance and an incredible growth of visitors, which awakened the residents of the surrounding communities of Palcoyo the initiative also to publicize the astonishing landscape with which they had. Between the years 2017 and 2018, we began to promote the place with the help of DIRCETUR CUSCO, And likewise to provide the site with the necessary infrastructure to facilitate visitors’ access to the area.
The colors of His Mountains: