The Rainbow Mountain: Location, Elevation, Weather and Things to Do

Vinicunca, a colorful valley in the peruvian highlands

Overview

The Rainbow Mountain is one of the most popular sites in Peru. Located in the southeast of Cusco, it has become a "must see" while visiting the region. It's a "collection" of colorful mountains similar to the Rainbow, a fantastic view of snow-capped peaks, lakes, alpacas and more. It's considered as one of the 100 places to see before dying.

Location

The Rainbow Mountain or Apu Vinicunca is located at 5200 meters above sea level (17 000 ft), on the southeast of Cusco. The colors displayed are mainly red, green, yellow and purple. According to recent research, the colors and variations are due to the complex combination of minerals such as the clay, magnesium, copper, calcium, silicon, etc.

The Apu Vinicunca was not discovered until a few years ago. 2 factors influenced its popularity: the social media and the global warming.
For many years, the Rainbow Mountain has been covered by snow and water, and progressively, due to high temperatures, it has been disappearing enabling these mountains to appear in the landscapes.
On the other hand, taking and sharing photos have become part of our daily lives, even more when we travel. It has defenitily helped the Mountain to be popular rapidly among numerous travelers.

Weather

Given that the Rainbow Mountain is situated in the highlands, its weather is quite cold and windy.
The best time to visit the Rainbow Mountain is during the dry season (May-September), and less recommended during the rainy season. The sun is very intense and you can often expect some snow, especially during the rainy season. The temperature ranges between 0°C to 10°C.

rainbow mountain Peru

How to get to the Rainbow Mountain

The Rainbow Mountain is situated at 100 km from Cusco (62 miles). The best way to reach the site is by hiring a reliable travel agency. You'll get a full package covering transportation, tour guide and meals. To get more details, take a glance at our day tour to the Rainbow Mountain.

One day is enough to see the the Rainbow Mountain. It normally starts early in the morning and ends in the afternoon (10-11 hrs). Although exists multi-day trekkings, the most common is to do it in a day by car (3 hrs ride).

Once you arrive at the start point, you have 2 options: You can hike about 1h30 hrs or hire a horse. Many locals offer a round trip ride for 80 peruvian soles (USD 23.00). This option is recommended for those who are not used to hike or have altitude issues.

What to do in the Rainbow Mountain

Although one day in the Rainbow Mountain is enough to take pictures, see the peaks and lakes, other hikes are available as long as you have physical conditions.

The Red Valley

This is an additional/moderate hike that you can explore after visiting the Rainbow Mountain. It requires about 3 more hours to see the whole route. You'll find paths, hills and even red rivers. The reason why the landscape displays a red color is beacause its mineral composition, basically clay.

To hike the valley, you'll need to be fully acclimatized. That's why we recommend that you stay in Cusco at least 2 or 3 days. The weather is pretty much the same to the Rainbow Mountain, so make sure to wear warm clothing as well as comfortable shoes.
If you're interested in adding this experience to your tour, feel free to leave us a message.

vinicunca tour

10 Things You Should Know About the Rainbow Mountain

  • Make sure to be fully acclimatized before visiting the Rainbow Mountain/The Red Valley.

  • Bring some cash in case you need to buy something.

  • Make sure to bring water, some fruits and snacks.

  • Better to depart after 5 am to avoid other tourist groups.

  • Contact us quite in advance to guarantee your day trip.

  • We recommend planning your trip between April-October (dry season).

  • Make sure to have all travel documents for visiting Peru as a tourist (valid passport, vaccines, etc).

  • Depending on your date visit, wear proper clothing (rainy season or dry season).

  • This hike requires to be in fit to avoid any inconvinient.

Frequent Travel Questions

What is the best time to visit the Rainbow Mountain?

Consider visiting the Rainbow Mountain during the dry season, that is, from April to September. You'll have sunny and warm days. On the contrary, if visiting during the rainy season (Nov-March), you'd deal with hail, snow and of course, rain.

What is the elevation of the Rainbow Mountain?

The Rainbow Mountain altitude is 5200 msnm (17 000 ft) and the weather is cold and windy. Thus, you'd better bring warm clothing.

Is it dangerous to visit the Rainbow Mountain?

The short answer is no. All facilities guarantee a safe experience while visiting the Rainbow Mountain. Neverthless, we always encourage you stay in Cusco at least a couple of days in order to get fully acclimatized and stay good physically.

How long is the hike to the Rainbow Mountain?

This is a moderate hike that takes around 3 hrs (round trip). As an alternative, you can hire a horse to avoid altitude issues. Upon your arrival, you'll find many locals hiring horses. The cost for hiring a horse is about 80 peruvian soles.

Is it safe for Children?

Given that this is a moderate hike and the path is mostly flat, children can make it always with an adult.

What is the walking distance?

The walking distance to the Rainbow Mountain is about 7 Km (4.5 miles) round trip from the parking.

Is the Rainbow Mountain open during the Pandemic?

The Rainbow Mountain has been closed for many months due to the Covid-19. However, it's now open to visitors. We suggest that you contact us first to have further information.

What should I wear to Rainbow Mountain?

It depends on the period you're coming. But generally speaking, we suggest that you bring the following: Trekking shoes (not new), trekking pole, warm layers of clothes, sunglasses, sunscream, hand sanitaizer, a rain jacket, some cash, snacks, and water.

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