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Rainbow Mountain Trek: Everything You Need to Know

Also known as the Seven Colors Mountain of Peru, discovered a few years ago, on the southern side of Cusco, about 3 hours driving. Its incredible colors, which can be seen from the view point, are unreal. Nowadays, Rainbow Mountain is one of the most visited places in Peru, and for good reason.
If you’ve ever been on Instagram, you’ve likely seen many photos of Rainbow Mountain and its vibrant colors. However, the hike to reach this iconic mountain is very challenging, and being well prepared is important to enjoy as much as you can.

Vinicunca Mountain
Rainbow Mountain Peru

What is the Rainbow Mountain?

This is a colored mountain located in the middle of the Andes near Cusco City. The colors can seen clearly covering part of the mountain: yellow, pink, white, turquoise, brown, and red. Each of these colors is caused by a specific combination of mineral deposits, types of stones, and clay.
The pink color is created by red clay and sand. red one is due to iron clay from the Cenozoic era. The whitish color is from quartz, sandstone, and marls, whereas the turquoise color is due to phyllite compounds, also clays rich in iron and magnesium. Earthy browns are caused by fanglomerates made of magnesium-infused rock. Finally, the yellow color is created by calcareous sandstone and limestone rich in sulfurous minerals.

Where is the Rainbow Mountain?

Rainbow Mountain is nestled in the Cordillera Vilcanota (Vilcanota Range) near Ausangate Mountain in the middle of the Andes Mountains. The most popular way to get there is through the day tour from Cusco. It is located 82 km away from Cusco City and takes 3 hours to drive on an asphalt and paved route.
Nowadays, there are many tours available for $50 USD, which include all the transportation, meals, and guides.

Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley
Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley

How long is the Rainbow Mountain Trek?

The Rainbow Mountain Trek is about an 8.5-kilometer round trip on a wide path that gradually goes up, ascending along the valley. Along the way, you will pass some shops and restrooms, with some places where you can rest.
The hike begins at 4,620 meters and goes until 5,036 meters, where Rainbow Mountain is located. For many people, it takes 1.20 hours to complete the hike up to the mountain; however, this will depend a lot on your physical condition, how acclimated you are to the altitude, and many other factors.

How difficult is Rainbow Mountain hike?

Due to the location and altitude, the trek is challenging compared to other classic hikes around Cusco. We highly recommend spending a few days in Cusco with the purpose of acclimating to the altitude, being in good shape will also help you.

Are there horses to Rainbow Mountain?

Yes, once you reach the trailhead, you’ll find many locals, also called as arrieros, who are offering to transport you on their horses to get closer to Rainbow Mountain. It costs around S/70 Soles round trip or S/40 Soles one way.

Riding horse to Rainbow Mountain
Rainbow Mountain on horses

When is the best time to visit Rainbow Mountain?

The best time to hike to Rainbow Mountain is during the dry season in Cusco, when the view is better.  Keep in mind that dry season in Cusco is between May and September; however, that season is when many people go there, so be prepared for the crowds.
During the day the best time is between 7-9 a.m.; at this time, you can avoid the crowds. Also, going in the afternoon between 2-4 p.m. is a good option, but at this altitude, it is very cold and windy.

How much is the entrance to Rainbow Mountain?

The actual ticket to enjoy this colored mountain is S/20 Peruvian soles plus S/10 soles for the road fee ($8 USD), and it will be charged by the local communities that are taking care of this natural marvel.

What is the Red Valley?

The Red Valley is a vast Martian landscape that seems like you are trekking on another planet. Its colors red and orange are caused by mineral deposits in the earth rise up in every direction and create a truly breathtaking sight. Located just behind Rainbow Mountain

Riding horse to Rainbow Mountain
Rainbow Mountain on horses

How much is the entrance for the Red Valley?

The Red Valley is a fantastic place near Rainbow Mountain, and not many people visit it. The entrance ticket is S/20 soles split in 2 sections (S/10 + S/10) for around $6 USD.

How long is the hike for the Red Valley?

The hike to Red Valley takes only 30 minutes to reach the view point, but the entire circuit takes about an hour. On this tour you are reaching 5,180 meters above sea level as the highest point.

Rainbow Mountain Trip
Rainbow Mountain Day Tour

Rainbow Mountain Tour Complete Itinerary Day Tour

Your tour guide will collect you from your hotel in Cusco between 3:50 and 4:00 a.m. and drive for 2 hours in our tourist van towards Cusipata town. We’ll stop for breakfast where you’ll enjoy the delicious buffet with a variety of local products.

Then, we continue driving for another hour to reach the trailhead located at 4,620 meters (15,157 ft) in the community of Llantoc. The tour guide will provide you with all the safety information and begin the hike. You will be amazed by the incredible landscapes that surround you while you are ascending.
The hike takes around 1.20 hours, ascending a picturesque path that crosses different shops which offers incredible views of glaciers and colored mountains. After a few hours of hiking, you’ll finally arrive at the view point of the iconic mountain located at 5,036 meters (16,522 feet) above sea level. The colors are incredible, formed by the sediment of different minerals over many years.
Your guide will explain all the colors and minerals that exist in the area. At your back site, you will have a stunning view of the highest snow peak, Ausangate Mountain, with 6,384 meters, considered a deity by many locals.

After exploring Rainbow Mountain, we’ll continue the hike towards the Red Valley. This place seems like you’re on another planet. You’ll hike through this fantastic valley and its breathtaking views.
Finally, we will head back to our van by hiking down the same path we took earlier.
We board the bus and return to Cusipata, where we’ll enjoy our nutritious lunch. In the afternoon, we drive back to Cusco.

We Included:

• Pickup from your hotel
• Transportation
• Tour guide
• Breakfast and Lunch
• Entrance fees
• Trekking poles
• Oxygen Tank
• First Aid Kit

We don’t included:

• Water bottle
• Red Valley Entrance (S/20 soles)
• Tips

What should I pack for this day tour?

• A small backpack
• Water bottle
• Windbreaker jacket
• Hat
• Beanie
• Gloves
• Sunglasses
• Sunblock
• Rain coat
• Some snacks

Be ready to have a lifetime experience exploring the Andes of Peru

After reading this post, I hope you will decide to discover this beautiful treasure with its radian colors that Mother Nature designed to delight the fantastic landscapes once in a lifetime.

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