Cusco’s Rainbow Mountain has recently become one of the most popular adventure trails. The Rainbow Mountain Route is Peru’s second-most visited tourist destination after the enigmatic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Visit the Rainbow Mountain Trail for one of the most stunning photos south of Cusco, known locally as Winikunca, or the Mountain of the Seven Colors.
The tourist route is a must for hikers or visitors enjoying the unique and colorful scenery of the rugged mountains deep in the Andes and Ausangate. It only takes 70 minutes of hiking to see Mother Nature’s remarkable beauty show or to go horseback riding for 50 minutes.
There are many reasons to visit Cusco, Peru, from its diverse natural geography to cultural celebrations and remnants of ancient Inca civilizations. Every year, millions of tourists travel to the Andes to visit Machu Picchu. But in 2015, a newly discovered geological wonder was added to the country’s must-see list. Also known as the Seven Colored Mountains or the Rainbow Mountains, Vinicunca was founded eight years ago when the Andes snowpack melted, revealing the natural beauty below. Formed over time by weathering, environmental conditions, and sedimentary deposits, the mountain’s unique minerals create stunning views that rise high into the sky in layered colors of gold, purple, red, and turquoise.
The trail to Rainbow Mountain begins at the parking lot of Llactoc and follows a flat path for approximately 70 minutes. It then gradually ascends through Rainbow Valley to a steep incline to the top of Rainbow Mountain. To reach the typical view of Rainbow Mountain, you must climb the mountain’s steep slopes for about 18 minutes.
At the summit, see beautiful views of the colorful foothills and the blue Andes, with lush green views of the snow-capped peaks of Ausangate.
Recommendation: Two days of acclimatizing in the Cusco or Sacred Valley area are recommended. We recommend that you do the Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain Circuit on the last day; your body has already adapted to the altitude of the Andes.
The climate on the Rainbow Mountain of Vinicunca varies with the seasons. Due to its altitude of 5200 meters (17,060 feet), the weather on Mount Vinicunca is generally chilly, with consistently cool, dry air and temperatures. During the rainy season, the weather is cloudy, rainy, and frigid, with temperatures dropping to 5 degrees Celsius at night, average temperatures during the day between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius, and temperatures between May and November between 7 and 10 degrees Celsius. Twelve degrees below zero during the day. At night, the temperature drops below 0°C.
The best time to visit the Rainbow Mountains and the Vinicunca Circuit in the Cusco region is during the dry season in the Peruvian Andes, from April to November. From April to November, there are blue skies with fantastic panoramic views. The sun is present most days, making it one of the most comfortable conditions for walking and horseback riding. Please prepare and bring appropriate mountain equipment.
Certain months of the year are better for exploring the colored mountains than others. We recommend April, May, September, October, and early November. During these months, the weather remains dry, the temperatures are pleasant, and the trails are lightly traveled.
Travelers should visit Rainbow Mountain at any time of the year. In this case, be it the dry or rainy season, we are happy to organize an excursion to one of the planet’s most unique, colorful mountains. Our advice is always to carry the right mountain equipment when the sky is blue, and the weather might change instantly.
There are two ways to reach Color Mountain. The distance between Cusco and the Mountains of Color depends on your chosen road.
The route through Cusipata: The travel route is currently the best-known and most famous.
General Note: The trip takes 3 hours from Cusco to the beginning of the Rainbow Mountain adventure. The vehicle carries the paved road south of Cusco for about 2 hours until it reaches the town of Cusipata. From Cusipata, the last hour ascends towards the Andes of Rainbow Mountain for 1 hour, following the vehicular dirt track.
The route through Pitumarca is the original and less congested but the longest.
This vehicular travel route reaches the vicinity of Rainbow Mountain from the back.
It’s not ideal, but very rustic toilets are available. Bring a roll of toilet paper to be well prepared.
The entire system and circuit of the Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain are managed by the 20 indigenous communities that live and surround the tourist attraction, which is why there is a rustic bathroom service at the beginning of the adventure as well as in the middle of the entire excursion and about 20 minutes before reaching the top of Rainbow Mountain.
The half-recommended bathroom service is located at the ticket control. The bathroom is located before reaching the vehicle parking lot or the dirt road’s end.
Note: There are gas stations with bathroom service when traveling by car. There are also several tourist restaurants where travelers can stop to enjoy the WC services.
Yes! It is considered a challenging trek due to the height (5100 meters of altitude), not precisely because of the complexity of the path.
Although the mountain of seven colors is beautiful and a great trip from Cusco, its popularity is undeniable.
About 2,500 customers use it every day! What was once a peaceful and secluded place has become one of the most visited destinations after Machu Picchu.
However, another mountain offers the same appearance, which few people talk about (at least for now): Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain in Combapata.
The excursion to the top of Rainbow Mountain on foot or horseback is well worth it. The panoramic view is fantastic and adds beauty to the entire landscape of Ausangate.
There is a combination of beautiful things, such as Ausangate covered with snow, valleys in the middle of the Andes, the natural exposition of color during the trek, the presence of South American camelids, and the experience of hiking over 5,100 meters above sea level. 16,732 feet. Undoubtedly, the Rainbow Mountain sightseeing tour is 100 percent worth it.
The Winikunka Rainbow Mountains are located southeast of Cusco, between the districts of Cusipata and Pitumarca, in the province of Canchis and Quispicanchis, in southern Peru, South America.