Have it all with Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain, the perfect alternative hike that lets you marvel at the stunning Rainbow Mountains of Peru while avoiding the crowds.
Peru’s Rainbow Mountain has exploded in popularity in recent years. Incredibly, Rainbow Mountain is now the second-most visited tourist destination in Cusco, after Machu Picchu. All this in just a few short years!
But you can still see the incredible Red Valley of Peru and its rainbow mountains, without the hordes of tourists.
Our Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain hike is a great alternative rainbow mountain hike. Palccoyo offers a gentler trail with less elevation gain, so it’s a great option for someone looking for a more casual day hike in Cusco. The Palccoyo hike also has some added highlights that the classic Rainbow Mountain hike does not, like the village of Checacupe for a taste of high Andean culture, and the chance to explore the fascinating Palccoyo Rock Forest.
Send us enquiry to book your trek, or click through the navigation bar above to read about the trip Details, the detailed Itinerary, or to check out some more Photos of this incredible trip.
Not convinced by this alternative Rainbow Mountain option? We also offer our own version of the classic Vinicunca hike, which keeps you out of sync with the vast majority of fellow hikers:
Make this a 2-day trip! Add another day to your Palccoyo hike itinerary and visit the famous Q’eswachaka Bridge! This unique Inca rope bridge is rebuilt in a special ceremony every year. The Q’eswachaka bridge festival happens every June but you can visit the bridge any day of the year.
A cultural stop in Checacupe village; Palccoyo rainbow mountain; views of the Red Valley and Ausangate; a stroll through the fascinating Rock Forest.
After nearly 2 ½ hours on the road to the alternative rainbow mountain, we reach the small town of Combapata. From here we take a detour onto a dirt road, where we will travel a further 29 km (approx. 1.25 hrs) until we reach Huallatacunca (4770m / 14,665 ft), the trailhead for Palccoyo.
At this point, we begin our gentle ascent towards the first Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain lookout point (4860m / 15,945 ft). After about 15 or 20 minutes, we’ll have our first glimpse of the incredible Red Valley Peru, and several smaller colored mountains. The Red Valley and Rainbow Mountain Peru area is a stunning feature of the Peruvian Andes. Rich in mineral deposits, these mountains are simply a wonder to behold.
After admiring the breathtaking views and getting that Instagram-perfect shot, we continue another 15 or 20 minutes until we reach the principal Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain lookout. At a whopping 4950m (16,240 ft), you’ll feel on top of the world!
Here you’ll have a chance to appreciate the full splendour of what’s become known as the “alternative rainbow mountain,” as well as Ausangate Mountain (6370m / 20,899 ft), the highest peak in the Cusco region. Did you bring your thermos? It can get very chilly at these high altitudes, and you will appreciate being able to sip on some hot coca tea while you take in the views!
We’ll enjoy a well-deserved break here admiring the view, and then we have the option to continue on a bit further to the Palccoyo Rock Forest (5080m / 16,667 ft). It’s about a 10-minute uphill hike to reach this fascinating geological feature, a stunning outcropping of jagged rocks. This is a great spot to get more of those classic Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain shots, and take in all that Mother Nature has to offer.
At this point, it’s time for lunch and we’ll enjoy our snack in the open air before walking back along the same path to the trailhead, where our private vehicle is waiting. We will return to Cusco along the same road, arriving there at around 6 pm.
Total Walking Distance: 3.2km (4.4km, counting the walk to the Rock Forest)
Total Walking Time: 1-1.5h
Minimum Altitude: 4770m (14,665 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 5080m (16,667 ft)