As of late, hiking Rainbow Mountain seems to be on the top of everyone’s Bucket List and I don’t blame them! Since a few photos went viral on Instagram, Rainbow Mountain Cusco is now the second most visited attraction in Peru, after Machu Picchu.
There are pros and cons (mainly pros) to doing a Rainbow Mountain Tour which I have outlined in this article, so don’t stop reading just yet!
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THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Rainbow Mountain Cusco, also known as Vinicunca, 7 Color Mountain, and Montana de Siete Colores, sits high above the clouds at an altitude of 5,200 meters. To put it into perspective, that’s not far off Everest Base Camp!
Please take into consideration before joining a Rainbow Mountain Tour that 5,200 meters above sea level is no joke and the Vinicunca hike is best suited for fit and able people.
Also, it is highly recommended that you acclimatize in Cusco (or equivalent altitude) for a minimum of 48 hours before doing any hiking in Peru.
Don’t make the same mistake as most by attempting to hike Rainbow Mountain on Day 1 when arriving in Cusco and being struck with altitude sickness that could potentially ruin your entire experience.
If you are looking for some awesome things to do in Cusco while you are letting your body get used to the altitude, check out my other travel guide on the 10 Best Things To Do In Cusco!
The Rainbow Mountain trek can be done in one day as a day trip from Cusco and the trail to the summit and back is approximately 15km that involves around four to five hours of walking/trekking.
Tip: Make sure your travel insurance covers hiking at high altitudes. For example, the cheaper travel insurance companies only cover up to altitudes of 2,000 – 3,000 meters above sea level. I personally use World Nomads Insurance for all my overseas adventures and I know for sure in this case their Explorer Plan covers the Rainbow Mountain trek.
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An aerial perspective
WHERE TO BOOK A RAINBOW MOUNTAIN TOUR
There are dozens of tour operators and offices dotted around Cusco City to book a Rainbow Mountain Tour, but in my experience, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which operator to book a tour through without being ripped off.
Alternatively, you can book your Rainbow Mountain Tour online in advance to avoid the hassle of having to organize this trip once you have arrived.
I recommend booking ahead of time on the Get Your Guide website. They have thousands of travel deals worldwide that are affordable and reliable!
Click Here to search for all Rainbow Mountain Tours from Cusco and book online ahead of time.
Hiking to Montana de Siete Colores
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE CUSCO RAINBOW MOUNTAIN HIKE
On the Rainbow Mountain hike, be prepared to experience all four seasons in one day. The weather around these mountain ranges in Peru can be very unpredictable year-round and it’s always best to over-prepare for a hike like this.
Due to the sporadic weather conditions, be sure to pack warm clothing as it gets very cold at high altitudes, suncream to protect you from the stronger than usual UV rays, comfortable hiking shoes or boots (joggers would suffice), a rain jacket, plenty of drinking water and of course your brightest, colorful poncho that you bought from the San Pedro Market in Cusco!
Snow on Cusco Rainbow Mountain
VINICUNCA RAINBOW MOUNTAIN – IS IT WORTH IT?
Hell yeah, it’s worth it! Staring out over a mountain that is dressed in rainbow colors is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am so glad I got to check Rainbow Mountain Cusco off my Bucket List!
However, as I mentioned earlier, this incredible 7 Color Mountain is the second most visited attraction in Peru, so you can expect loads of tourists on the Rainbow Mountain Tour Peru.
Though don’t let this information change your mind too quickly on whether or not it’s worth it, because there are ways to have the Rainbow Mountain viewpoint entirely to yourself for sunrise and sunset. (I’ll get to that in just a minute!)
The best time to visit, weather-wise, is between the months of May and October which is the dry season in Peru.
However, this is also peak season, which brings me to one of the cons about the Rainbow Mountain Peru Tour – you could be sharing the trail with up to 4,000 people on a single day.
Yes, that’s right, 4,000 people. Though, if you visit this famous mountain in Peru during the rainy season (November – April) there are fewer crowds, but you’ll have to pray to the Peruvian gods for good weather!
Must Read → 3 Week Peru Itinerary
Marveling at the view
Vinicunca – The 7 Color Mountain in Peru
HOW TO EXPERIENCE RAINBOW MOUNTAIN WITHOUT THE CROWDS
From my own personal experience of being able to enjoy Rainbow Mountain Cusco uncrowded with only my friends and our tour guides, I can tell you that it’s most definitely possible!
When I visited Rainbow Mountain Peru, it was a part of the 7-Day Ausangate Trek I did with Killa Expeditions, an adventure tour company in Peru of which I can’t recommend enough!
I believe it was day three of our Ausangate trek when we arrived at our campsite that was just one hour away from the mountain.
So myself, my new friends, and our guides took us to Rainbow Mountain viewpoint to watch the sunset, and oh my goodness! We arrived at the main viewpoint with thirty minutes to spare before sunset and had the entire mountain to ourselves.
No crowds, no noise, just us! The feeling of pure bliss that overcame me as I was standing there, marveling at the incredible sight of Rainbow Mountain is one that I will never forget.
A layer of clouds rolling through
Enjoying the million-dollar view
But wait… there’s more! Just when you thought this Ausangate Trek couldn’t get any better, we woke again the following morning at 3 am to make the same one-hour hike from our campsite back to Cusco Rainbow Mountain for sunrise.
There was a dusting of around five centimeters of snow overnight which gave the 7 Color Mountain an extra color! See the difference in the pictures below from sunset and sunrise!
Killa Expeditions also offer day tours to Rainbow Mountain if you’re not up for a 7-Day Ausangate Trek. This particular Rainbow Mountain Tour is tailor-made to leave Cusco at 3 am to ensure you get to the 7 Color Mountain as early as possible to beat the crowds.
Book Now → Rainbow Mountain Day Tour
A snow-capped mountain
Rainbow Mountain Tour
Covered in snow
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE RAINBOW MOUNTAIN HIKE
Now for some pros to joining a Rainbow Mountain Tour. The entire Rainbow Mountain trekking experience in itself is phenomenal and I urge you to appreciate the other surrounding landscapes in the valley aside from the famous Montana de Siete Colores.
The Rainbow Mountain day tour includes a pick-up from your hotel in Cusco at 3 am and the journey from Cusco to Rainbow Mountain is approximately a three-hour drive. A boxed breakfast with hot drinks is included in the morning before beginning the hike at the trailhead to Rainbow Mountain.
Along the trail you can expect to see flowing streams fed from glacier lakes, local villages and their communities, herds of alpacas, llamas and vicunas, snow-capped mountains, and glimpses of the Ausangate peak! Convinced yet?
Hiking Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain
A herd of friendly alpacas
The hike itself is a gradual incline for the most part until you reach a slightly steeper climb for the last 300 meters of the trek, which then ends at the incredible Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain viewpoint.
If your legs are painted on, there are horseback rides available from bottom to top for around 80 soles return trip. In respect to the horse’s wellness, I disagree with these kinds of services and don’t recommend it, but each to their own.
Once you are done enjoying the view, you’ll hike for a further twenty minutes to the Red Valley pass to a viewpoint from where you’ll be able to see the incredible, deep red hues located in this area.
After a short time here taking photos the hike then continues back down the same trail to the parking lot that takes approximately 1.5 hours. A buffet lunch is also included before taking the three-hour drive back to Cusco.
Book Now → Rainbow Mountain Cusco
5, 200 meters above sea level
The Red Valley
VINICUNCA RAINBOW MOUNTAIN MAP
WHERE TO STAY IN CUSCO
Cusco has hundreds of accommodation options to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Cusco to fit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
An unforgettable stay at any Marriott Hotel around the world is never a bad choice. This particular Marriott boasts beautiful interiors with antique exposed bricks and it’s just a few minutes walk to the main square, Plaza de Armas. The rooms are elegantly styled featuring cable TV, wifi, a minibar, and a private bathroom. Oxygen-enriched rooms are also available for those who struggle with high altitudes.
Mid Range: Tambo del Arriero Hotel Boutique
A charming colonial boutique hotel located in the Nueva Alta neighborhood, a short walking distance to the San Pedro Market and Cusco’s main square. The rooms are spacious and cozy featuring a TV, iPhone docking station, free wifi, work desk, warm heating, and some even boast a private jacuzzi.
Budget: Frankenstein Hostel
There are countless hostels in Cusco but there is only one Frankenstein Hostel. This is where I stayed during my time in Cusco and I can’t recommend this place enough for its unique ambiance and central location! Ludwig, the owner, was very welcoming as soon as I set foot in the door and made me feel right at home. The hostel lives up to its ‘Frankenstein’ name with spooky ornaments hanging in doorways and from staircases. Ludwig is also a nature lover and has many plants growing in the internal courtyard and he even has his own terrarium. There are cozy private rooms available at a very affordable price and breakfast is included.
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN CUSCO, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
Another option for accommodation is to stay at an Airbnb, which generally has some great deals.
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MORE CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA TRAVEL GUIDES
- Mexico: 4 Week Mexico Itinerary
- Cuba: 10 Day Cuba Itinerary
- Peru: Backpacking Peru – 3 Week Itinerary
- Bolivia: Things To Do In Bolivia
- Brazil: 2 Day Rio De Janeiro Itinerary
- Argentina: Things To Do In Argentina
- Chile: Things To Do In Chile
LONELY PLANET PERU
One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet Peru Guide!
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Thanks for reading this article and if you have any questions at all about the Rainbow Mountain Cusco Tour, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.