Kondor Path Tours

Palcoyo New Alternative Rainbow Mountain

Location: Palcoyo Mountain

Palcoyo, the mountain range of colors, or the rainbow mountains, is a set of three 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 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. It is in the same mountain range as Vilcanota in the District of Pitumarca, province of Canchis, more than 110 km away.

Palcoyo or Vinicunca?

Palcoyo Vinicunca
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).
Technical difficulty Download Media
Physical difficulty Download High average
Maximum height approximately 4,900 masl. Approximately 5,000 ml
The 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.

Recommendations for visiting Palcoyo

Being located at 4,900 meters, the risk of suffering from puna is always present. However, since the hike is not steep and lasts only one hour, most travelers (regardless of age) will have no problems. It is typically advised to acclimate the body by spending at least two days in Cusco before arriving in Palcoyo. 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.

Palcoyo requires significantly less physical exertion and travel time than Vinicunca, which also experiences a significant flood of tourists that diminishes the natural landscape’s beauty. With this, we do not mean that trekking to the Rainbow Mountain in 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.

Helpful Information: Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain Tour Full Day

  • Home in: Cusco
  • Ends in: Cusco
  • Duration: 1 Day
  • Daily departures from our office in Cusco.
  • Hours: 04 am to 6:00 pm (Group service leaves from our office.)
  • Hotel Pick-up for Private Groups (04:00)
  • This is a must-see tour in Cusco—not to be missed!
  • Driving distance from Cusco: (76 miles/125 km)
  • Driving time: 4.5 hours one way, including one hour of breakfast halfway, and 4 hours return, including lunchtime.
  • Elevation at the beginning of the hike: 15,400 feet (4,700 m).
  • Difficulty: Easy.
  • Walking distance: (2.5 ML / 4 KM round trip)
  • Horse rental Does not exist.
  • Hiking time: The hike to the last viewpoint (with some breaks along the way) is approximately 45 minutes. Afterward, the return to the bus station takes 30 minutes.
  • Trail: Dirt trail at first, then there is a cobblestone path down the side of the mountain to the last viewpoint. It is primarily flat with a gradual climb. Then, up to the top, the stone forest site is a zigzag trail for about 200 meters up to the 20-minute hike.
  • Photo sessions: Occasionally, locals appear on the road, walking with an alpaca, offering a photo session. In exchange, they only want a tip.
  • Maximum elevation: 16,076 feet (4900 m).)
  • Duration of the excursion: 10 hours.
  • The difference in elevation during the hike: (656ft / 200m)

When was Palcoyo Mountain discovered?

When the number of visitors to the Mountain of the 7 Colors increased tremendously 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.

  • Places to visit on the Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain Tour
  • Combapata
  • Rainbow Mountain Palccoyo

Weather and best season to Visit Palcoyo

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 at which it is located. In 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.

What to do in Palcoyo Mountain?

Visiting the mountains of Palcoyo is also a great experience among 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. From the beginning of the hike, all visitors 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. The snow-capped Ausangate will appear in the distance if the day is clear. 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.

Flora and fauna in Palcoyo

For some, the alpacas’ presence, beauty, and elegant landscape make 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 in the wild, but the locals raise them and serve as their sustenance. There are also foxes (Dusicyon culpaeus) and chinchillas that rarely appear, as well as 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.

What should I take to Palcoyo Mountain?

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.

  • A small, lightweight backpack:
  • Water
  • Morsels
  • Extra batteries for the camera and cell phone
  • Sunscreen
  • A cap or hat for the sun
  • Woolen hats and scarves for the cold weather
  • Sunglasses
  • Good walking shoes
  • Rain poncho
  • Extra money (recommended in soles)

What can you see in Palcoyo?

Stone Forest

The forest of stones of Palcoyo is a crucial component that embellishes 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.

The Red River of Palcoyo:

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.

Herds of Llamas and Alpacas

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.

How to get to Palcoyo On your own:

If you do not have a vehicle, you must take a bus toward Combapata, which you can take from the coliseum, the closed house of the youth, about 10 minutes from the historic center of Cusco. After the three hours of travel, 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.

How to get to Palcoyo with a travel agency:

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. 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 mobility arrives in practice at 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

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 to the initiative to publicize the astonishing landscape they had. Between 2017 and 2018, we began to promote the place with the help of DIRCETUR CUSCO and provide the site with the necessary infrastructure to facilitate visitors’ access to the area.

The colors of its mountains:

  • As Palcoyo is located in the same geographic region as the Montana de Colores, its composition is practically the same, so the variety of its colors is due to the following:
  • Pink or fuchsia is due to red clay, fangolites (mud), and arilites (sand). The whitish is due to the white quartz sandstone.
  • Whitish: quartz sand and limestone.
  • Purple or lavender: a mixture of clay with sodium carbonate and silicates.
  • Red: Clays and argitites
  • Green: clays rich in ferromagnesium and, finally, copper.
  • Yellowish browns: calcareous sandstones, limonites, and sulfide minerals. Limonites and marls are rich in calcium carbonate.

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