There are few places on earth where Mother Nature gives such an awesome display of color. Peru’s Rainbow Mountain (or Vinicunca) offers breathtaking sights of mountains striped maroon, turquoise, mint and sky blue. It is one of those places that photographs just cannot do justice, it really does have to be seen to be believed!
Since pre-Inca times the mountains in this area have been a place of worship and offerings, and this tradition continues today. Indeed, the highest visible peak of Ausangate is considered to be a spirit and the deity of Cusco.
Most trips to see the Rainbow Mountains require a challenging multi-day trek. We are delighted to be one of the first companies in the area to offer this brand new itinerary which offers the same beautiful views in a one day trip!
Along the route you will see traditional villages, beautiful adobe style houses, herds of llamas and alpacas, and magnificent views of the towering Ausangate Glacier standing at over 6,000m (20,000 ft). Immersed in the amazing beauty and solitude found only in the Andes, this is a spectacular trip for hikers who love a true outdoor adventure, but who have just a short amount of time to spare
In order to maximize our time on the trail and at the mountain, our day will start before dawn. Collecting you from your Cusco hotel around 3:30 AM, we make a 3 hour drive through the South Valley to the trailhead at Ccayrabiry (4,500 m / 14,763 ft). Our transportation is comfortable though, and we even provide blankets for those who want to take the opportunity for a little more sleep. Upon reaching the Ccayrabiry village, we provide a full continental breakfast, perfect fuel for the hiking ahead.
Our trek beings along the meandering path of a beautiful stream. As dawn continues to break around us, the surrounding herds of Alpacas and Llamas will be waking too, and our paths will often cross as we continue our hike.
The distant majesty of Ausangate Mountain will be our backdrop as we leave the stream to wander through the rustic villages that make up the remote communities of this area. You may even want to practice your Quechua with the local residents who will be going about their daily business!
Our early start means we are not rushing, and so we will have plenty of opportunities to stop for rest or snacks to keep our energy levels up.
Back on the trail we encounter even more of the traditional elements of this trail. The area is home to many Fincas (farms) and we will pass fields of potatoes and other vegetables which are the lifeblood of the farming community. We will also see some quite unique fauna, perhaps Chinchillas or even Vicunas. Vicunas are the only non-domesticated animal of the llama family found in Peru, so make sure you have your cameras ready. If that wasn’t enough, the vibrant colours of the red mountains all around us are also a highlight of this portion of the hike.
After hiking for around 2 hours, we finally reach our destination, the magnificent Rainbow Mountains (5,020 m / 16,466 ft). No photoshop or Instagram filters here, this awesome display of colour is 100% natural, and completely breathtaking.
We will take our time at the summit so that you can take pictures, explore the area or just take in the spectacular views. Then we take a short 20 minute walk into the Red Valley itself, a tranquil and beautiful hike amongst the crimson rocks that leads us to a spectacular view across the valley.
Your guide will let you know when it is time to return, and we hike downhill the way we came. In a sense though this is almost a different hike, as we take in the views that were behind us on our ascent. The hike down will take around 2 hours and our chef will be waiting for us with an incredible lunch when we return.
Then, it’s just a 3 hour drive back to Cusco. We will drop you off at your Cusco hotel around 7pm, no doubt exhausted but with incredible memories of a unique day.
- Meals: Breakfast / Lunch
- Lowest Elevation: 4,500 m / 14,763 ft
- Highest Elevation: 5,020 m / 16,466 ft
- Distance to walk: 7km / 4.5miles
- Approximate walking time: 5 hours (2 hours up; 2 hours down)
- Level of Difficulty: Challenging