Rainbow Mountain Day Trip 1D

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Duration: 1 Day
Availability : Every Day.
Chillihuani
Rainbow Mountain
Max People : 12

About Rainbow Mountain 1 Day

Our full day Rainbow Mountain day trip is for the intrepid traveler short on time, but not on adventure! We have curated an experience designed to get you out of sync with the crowds. Spend more time capturing that Insta-worthy shot of Vinicunca, and less time surrounded by other tourists.

 

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Known locally as Vinicunca (cunca means “neck” in Quechua, the local indigenous language), this hidden gem near the Ausangate circuit goes by a lot of nicknames: Rainbow mountain, Painted mountain, Colored mountain, montaña de 7 colores, and even Stripy mountain – all of which speak to its unearthly and radiant colored peaks.

Made famous by Instagram, Rainbow Mountain has exploded in popularity in recent years. What was once a well-kept secret near Ausangate is now the second-most visited attraction in Cusco – second only to Machu Picchu!

The classic Rainbow Mountain tour receives thousands of visitors each day in high season, making it not a great choice for those who like to get off the beaten track. Our Rainbow Mountain day trip takes a slightly different route than most agencies, meaning you’ll have more time to enjoy the views and less time trekking alongside other tourists.

On this Rainbow Mountain 1 day trek, you’ll climb up to a breathtaking (literally!) altitude of 5040m (16, 535 ft) to capture that classic view of Vinicunca, and then walk back down along the same path. It is a steep climb up and down so you must make sure you’re prepared for the challenge and properly acclimatized.

For an even more off-the-beaten-path experience of Rainbow Mountain, consider our 2-day Rainbow Mountain hike or, better yet, our one day Palccoyo hike.

Rainbow Mountain Day Trip Highlights

  • Magnificent views of snow-capped Ausangate
  • Instagram-worthy views of the colorful Rainbow Mountain
  • A slightly different route keeps you out of sync with the crowds
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Price

Prices are per person in USD, based on group size. We do not have fixed-date group departures. If you do not want to book a private trek, please see our Trekkers Wanted page for a list of open departures within your dates.

2 people

$349

3 people

$259

4-6 people

$195

7+ people

$165
WHY BOOK WITH US?

High quality personalized experience

Unique, off-the-beaten track routes

Experienced staff

Verified sustainability practices

$20 of every trek donated to Threads of Peru

Important Details About the Rainbow Mountain Day Trip

What is Included?

Meals

  • Boxed lunch (includes bottled water). Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available (Talk to your Travel Consultant during the booking process if you have certain preferences)

Transport

  • Collection from your hotel on the morning of Rainbow Mountain Cusco trek departure
  • Private transport from Cusco to the trailhead and return at the end of the trek

Trekking Team

  • English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide, plus an assistant guide for groups over 8

Safety

  • 1 emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if you are a little slower
  • First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle

Additional inclusions

  • Pre-trek briefing
  • Entry fee Vinicunca Mountain

What is Not Included?

  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Tips for the guide and muleteer
  • Flights to/from Cusco
  • Travel Insurance

Optional Extras & Upgrades

We offer you the opportunity to personalize your trek and make your experience more comfortable through our Optional Extras and Upgrades. All options are available during the reservation process; please ask your sales consultant for more information.

    • Extra horse for you to ride, and horseman to lead it
    • Light-weight aluminum walking stick. Two sticks are recommended for tough hikes.
    • Combine with a day trip to Machu Picchu

Important!

    • When calculating the cost of renting equipment, calculate using the length of the entire trip, not just the number of trekking days.
    • Please be careful with rented equipment! You are responsible for the cost of replacement if something is damaged or broken.
    • Any upgrades or trip extensions must be requested at time of booking.

What to Pack for your Rainbow Mountain Day Trip

See What To Bring for our comprehensive recommendations on how to pack for a trek in the Andes.

Despite being just a day trip to Rainbow Mountain, you should note that this trek is particularly cold. The temperatures can be as low as 5°C (41°F), so make sure you have enough very warm layers with you! We recommend a windbreaker, fleece, woolen hat, gloves and a scarf. A thermal underlayer below your durable trekking pants will also help keep you warm from the cold wind.

Be prepared for changing conditions. Weather in the Andes in fickle and there is always a chance of rain or even snow at high altitude, especially during the rainy season months (Nov-Mar).

Don’t forget to pack a sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, too. At such high altitude, the sun’s rays are very intense and you will burn easily, even if it is cloudy and overcast.

You will be hiking for 2-3 hours, so make sure your footwear is comfortable, sturdy and well worn-in. Hiking boots or trekking shoes are always preferred, but a good quality trainer will suffice in a pinch.

Lastly, you will appreciate bringing a thermos with you! A steaming cup of coca tea or hot coffee at the summit is a great way to warm up on a cold windy day!

For more great suggestions, check out our blog about How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru.

Available Discounts

  • Students: USD $30 off, in certain circumstances. Please enquire for details about eligibility.
  • Youth 12-17: 5% off. A valid passport must be presented upon booking.
  • Children 5-11 years: 15% off. A valid passport must be presented upon booking.
  • Children 0-4 years: Free. A valid passport must be presented upon booking. Children under 4 will not count towards the total number of guests in a group. Car seats, cribs and other baby needs may not be included and must be discussed in advance. For more information about travelling with infants and toddlers, please see this blog as well as the Age Requirements section of our Booking Conditions.
  • 5% off a day tour listed price when you also book a 3-day or longer trek operated by Apus Peru

Rainbow Mountain Guides & Safety

At Apus Peru, we only work with the region’s best guides. Your guide for the Rainbow Mountain day trip will be carefully selected for their personality, knowledge of the routes and communication skills. Get to know our team!

In addition to being fully licensed and all-around great people, our guides also receive frequent training at Apus Peru. This includes emergency first aid and mountain rescue training. You can rest assured you will be in good hands on your Rainbow Mountain 1 day trek!

Apus Peru is one of the longest-operating, top level trekking agencies in Cusco. We put safety first. Our comprehensive risk assessment policy covers a lot of issues which could occur on any of our treks, from vehicle maintenance to sickness and evacuation on the trail.

It is important to bear in mind that many treks – including our 1 day Rainbow Mountain tour – will not operate in the rainy season for safety reasons. See more below under FAQs about the Best Time of Year to visit Rainbow Mountain.

Trekkers Wanted

Want to join a Rainbow Mountain day trip? Ready to confirm a departure date of your own, but interested in having others join you? Then Trekkers Wanted is for you! Our innovative Trekkers Wanted system matches people up who are interested in hiking the same trek, bringing costs down and multiplying the fun for everyone!

Read More about Trekkers Wanted, post your trek or search for confirmed departures!

Important Info

  • Each guide has their own preferred route and so the route you trek might not correspond exactly to the itinerary described here.
  • The times cited in this Rainbow Mountain 1 day itinerary are approximate. Walking times depend on the group, and the guide may adjust the route and rest stops depending on the progress of the group.

Ready to Book?

  • Does this trek sound like just what you were looking for? If you’re ready to book or just want to find out a bit more information, fill out the Inquiry Form in the top right-hand corner of this page to get the ball rolling. You’ll be connected with one of our amazing sales people who will be able to turn your dream of hiking in the Andes into a reality. For more information on the entire booking process, please see our How To Book page.
  • Travel insurance is a must! World Nomads offers travel insurance for adventure activities.

Rainbow Mountain 1 Day Trek Itinerary

Day 1Cusco – Chillihuani - Rainbow Mountain – Cusco

    • Total Walking Distance: 7km (4.3 mi)
    • Total Walking Time: 2.5-3h
    • Minimum Altitude: 4650m / 15255 ft
    • Maximum Altitude: 5040m / 16,535 ft

    We leave Cusco city at around 7:30 am for our Rainbow Mountain day trip, a not-too-early start compared to the standard 3 am departure on other Rainbow Mountain day tours! Thankfully, we will be fully rested and prepared for the long day ahead.

    Our day trip starts with a 3-hour drive along a paved road across the altiplano. We’ll travel through the fertile Vilcanota Valley, in the direction of Puno, until we reach Chillihuani (4700m / 15,419 ft).

    Arriving in Chillihuani, we’ll be treated to magnificent views of the valley and its surrounding mountains. This is where our Rainbow Mountain 1 day trek will begin. We’ll begin hiking around 11 am – just as the morning crowds should be coming down from the mountain. The path will be busy climbing up, but we should reach the viewpoint when most people have left.

    From the trailhead at Phulahuasipata (4650m / 15,255 ft), we climb for about 1.5-2 hours, gaining 390m in altitude as we go. This is a challenging climb and our breathing is sure to become more labored as we gain altitude. There is a rest stop halfway at Phuñacancha (4740m / 15,551 ft), with toilets available for 1 sol (about $0.30 USD).

    Arriving at the Vinicunca Pass – the Classic View of Rainbow Mountain

    When we reach Vinicunca Pass (5040m / 16,535 ft), we will enjoy spectacular views of the unique colored rock formations that give Rainbow Mountain its name. This is your reward for the strenuous climb: glorious layers of turquoise, orange, brown, and red rock sediment. There may be some cold gusts of wind here so please ensure that you are bundled up and that your head is covered with a woolly hat!

    When the day is clear, we will also be treated to impressive views of the snow-capped Apu Ausangate, the most important apu, or mountain deity, in Andean cosmology.

    After some time to rest and take those classic shots for your Instagram feed, we return down the mountain the same way we came. Our private transport will be waiting for us when we arriving back at the trailhead. We will enjoy our boxed lunch in the car, sheltered from the wind and cold, and then begin our return journey to Cusco. We arrive back at your hotel around 5 or 6pm.

FAQs About the Rainbow Mountain Day Trip

How difficult is the Rainbow Mountain 1 day trek?

This may just be a day trip to Rainbow Mountain, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, we rate this trek as moderate.
(See how we rate all of our treks in the Cusco region!)

There are two factors that affect the difficulty of this day hike: the altitude and the steep uphill climb.

Your Rainbow Mountain 1 day trek starts at an altitude of 4650m (15,255 ft). That’s already very high up and you must be well acclimatized before beginning the hike (more on altitude below).

From there, you will hike for 1.5h to 2h up to Vinicunca Pass, the classic viewpoint for Rainbow Mountain. While Rainbow Mountain itself has an altitude of 5200m (17,060 ft), Vinicunca Pass is located at 5040m (16, 535 ft), the highest point you will actually reach on this hike. That’s enough to take your breath away – literally!

While the hike is only a couple of hours, it is a very steep, uphill climb, with an elevation gain of nearly 400m (1312 ft). This can be very strenuous for most people. Of course, others will find the return trip down even harder! Steep inclines can be very hard on the knees.

Make sure you are prepared for the strain on your lungs and your knees for this trek, and that you know your body can handle it. We recommend walking sticks!

How can I prepare for the Rainbow Mountain trek and what training do you recommend?

Physical fitness is highly individual and any formal training you undertake for your trek should be done in consultation with a medical professional or fitness expert.

Generally speaking, the fitter you are, the easier and more enjoyable the hike is going to be for you. Obviously, you want to have fun while on holiday so taking the time to get fit is in your best interest!

If you are someone who regularly works out, you’ve got a great headstart and will probably find the Rainbow Mountain 1 day trek tough but achievable. If you’re maybe a little older, or don’t have a regular fitness routine, we recommend you start one!

Doing some day hikes at home before heading to Peru – especially ones that involve climbing or mountain terrain – is a great way to prepare. If you don’t live near any mountains, go for extended walks in your city, or else, head to the gym for some good cardiovascular training.

For more ideas about how to prepare for your trek, see our Trekking Tip #3.

How many days do I need to acclimatize to the altitude?

Rainbow Mountain altitude is very high – you will reach OVER 5000m (16,404 ft) on this hike. Altitude sickness is serious business, so to avoid getting sick on the trail, it’s important to acclimatize.

How can you acclimatize to the altitude before hiking to Rainbow Mountain? Actually it’s very easy: spend time at a high-altitude place like Cusco! Altitude is something that your body needs to adjust to so all it really needs is time. The more time you can spend at altitude before starting any hike, the better. Because of the very high altitude of Rainbow Mountain, we think 3 days is the minimum acclimatization period for this day trip.

In addition, being kind to your body helps your body deal with the extra pressures that altitude creates. This means eating healthy, light meals; staying away from alcohol; resting; and drinking lots of water.

We recommend you read more about Altitude and How to Acclimatize before starting your trek.

What is the best time of year to do a Rainbow Mountain day trip?

The best time of the year to do a Rainbow Mountain day trip is during the dry season, from May to August. These months are actually winter in the Andes so it can feel quite cold, but it usually means there is little to no rain. Clear sunny days and dry trail conditions are perfect for hiking!

December through March is the rainy season in the Andes and hiking to the Rainbow Mountain is not recommended. Sustained, heavy rains can make the trail unsafe. Rain quite often means snow at higher elevations, too, which is not only unpleasant to hike through, but could dramatically affect your views the striped mountains!

Trekking during the shoulder season (April, September, October) is weather-dependent. We are willing to book a Rainbow Mountain 1 day trek during this time, but if conditions are poor we reserve the right to cancel or modify your trip.

For more about our wet season trekking policy, check out this page on the best time to hike.

How long is the hike to Rainbow Mountain?

    Exact walking times depend on the relative fitness and speed of everyone in your group. On average, the hike to Vinicunca Pass (the Rainbow Mountain viewpoint) takes 1.5 to 2 hours. Total round-trip walking time (up and back down) is approximately 2.5 to 3 hours.

Can I charge my devices on this Rainbow Mountain 1 day tour?

    No. As this is a one day hike to Rainbow Mountain, it is assumed that your devices will be sufficiently well charged for a day’s excursion. Bring along extra batteries as a back-up!

What will the food be like on this day tour?

    Our Rainbow Mountain day trip includes a delicious boxed lunch, packed in eco-friendly biodegradable boxes or reusable glass containers. It includes bottled water, a piece of fruit, a sandwich and other snacks. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available upon request!

Do I need a special permit to hike to Rainbow Mountain?

    You do not need to purchase any additional permits to do this day trip. The local community around Rainbow Mountain charges an entrance fee to access the mountain, but this fee is included in the cost of your trek.

What do I need to carry with me on the trail?

All you need to take with you is a day pack. In your day pack, you should carry things like your water bottle, some extra layers, camera, sun hat, gloves, beanie, sunscreen and sunglasses. You may also need to carry your boxed lunch in your day pack, so don’t forget to leave room!

Water on the trail is very important. Your boxed lunch includes a bottle of water, but you might want to bring another empty water bottle that you can fill up (we will provide boiled or filtered water for the car ride) before beginning the hike.

Can I customize the Rainbow Mountain 1 day hike?

  • Make this a 2 day itinerary and camp near the Rainbow Mountain! Our two day Rainbow Mountain excursion is specially designed to avoid the crowds and offer you a more remote experience of Vinicunca.
  • For another 2 day option, you can add on a visit to the Q’eswachaka Bridge. This very unique itinerary will give you a glimpse of not only Peru’s stunning Rainbow Mountains, but also a first-hand look at a piece of living Inca history: the famous Inca rope bridge, remade by hand every year!
  • The Rainbow Mountain day trip does NOT include Machu Picchu and is actually in the opposite direction! If you want to visit Machu Picchu, you may want to add a one day train tour, or the recommended 2 day Machu Picchu excursion which includes an overnight in Aguas Calientes.

Is the Rainbow Mountain 1 day trek right for me?

    In order to answer whether this Cusco day tour is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have time to properly acclimatize? – Despite being a relatively short hike, you will climb to over 5000m (16, 404 ft). To avoid altitude sickness, you must take the time to acclimatize well. If you don’t have 3 days in your schedule to acclimatize, you should consider a different day tour.
  • Can I handle a difficult, uphill climb for 1.5 to 2 hours and a steep descent along the same trail? – The hike to Rainbow Mountain is steep and challenging for many. It is not a walk in the park! The return journey can be hard on the knees. Walking sticks are recommended, especially if you have any knee issues!
  • Am I okay with hiking a busy trail with lots of other trekkers? – Rainbow Mountain is one of Cusco’s most popular day trips, especially during high season (May through September). We leave a lot later in the morning than most other tour groups to help avoid the crowds, however you will still see a lot of other trekkers. For a more off-the-beaten-track experience, you might want to consider Palccoyo. This is another day trip which visits Peru’s “alternative” rainbow mountains. You’ll still have beautiful views of colorful mountains, but with almost no other tourists. It is also a considerably easier hike.
  • Is getting that perfect Instagram shot important to me? – Rainbow Mountain is something of an Instagram sensation. If your goal is capture your own version of that classic photo, our 1 day trek is a great choice. One of the benefits of doing the one day tour with Apus Peru is that we are out-of-sync with the crowds and you might be able to get a better shot with us. (Of course, this is not guaranteed!)
  • One day or two days? – We offer both one day and two day tours to Rainbow Mountain. If you’re short on time, then the one day trek is probably your best bet. Otherwise, the two day tour offers an extra shot of adventure as you hike through some of the surrounding mountains, with more spectacular views of Ausangate and other peaks. It is even more off-the-beaten-track. Plus, more time spent in the mountains mean more time to possibly spot some Andean wildlife like the vicuña, or even interact with local people.
  • Am I interested in hands-on learning and interacting with locals? The Rainbow Mountain tour is a stunning, naturally beautiful trek with impressive views, however there is no opportunity to witness contemporary Andean life or interact with locals. If you are looking for a more hands-on experience, you may be interested in one of our Cultural Immersion tours.
  • Is visiting Incan Ruins important to me? – The Rainbow Mountain day trip does not include any Inca ruins en route. For a day tour with more Inca or pre-Inca history, you might want to consider one of our Nature and History tours.
  • Do I want a tour that includes Machu Picchu? – As this is a one-day trip, Rainbow Mountain does not include Machu Picchu. To include this fascinating Inca Citadel in your itinerary, you might want to add a separate Machu Picchu tour.

Rainbow Mountain vs Palccoyo

If you’ve heard of the “alternative rainbow mountain,” you may be wondering – which one is better?

All of our Rainbow Mountain tours are great in their own way, but in order to choose between a classic Rainbow Mountain tour or our “alternative” Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain tour, you should consider the following differences:

    • Getting that classic Rainbow Mountain shot – Rainbow Mountain has exploded on Instagram in recent years, with travel influencers and tourists alike eager to seek out that classic picture. If that is your goal, you should stick with one of our classic Rainbow Mountain tours – the Rainbow Mountain 1 day trek, or our 2 day trek.
    • Crowds! – Vinicunca is busy! Today, it is the second-most visited tourist attraction around Cusco after Machu Picchu, with thousands of tourists trekking there every day in high season. By contrast, the alternative rainbow mountain, Palccoyo, is still somewhat of a hidden gem. If you check it out, you could very well be the only group there!
    • Length & difficulty of the hike – The standard Rainbow Mountain 1 day hike is a steep, uphill climb. It takes about 2 hours and has a nearly 400m elevation gain which can be quite strenuous for most people. Although located at roughly the same altitude, the one day Palccoyo hike is much gentler and only takes about 30-40 minutes (one way).

How can I get to Cusco?

    • The Rainbow Mountain day trip begins and ends in Cusco. International travel to/from Cusco is not included in the price of your tour.

Travel Direct…

      • By Plane.Most international flights land in Lima, Peru’s capital. From here, you can take a domestic flight to Cusco. Some international flights go through other South American capitals, like Bogotá, Colombia, which also has connecting flights to Cusco.
      • By Bus.You can take an overnight bus from Lima to Cusco (it takes about 20-23 hours). One of the benefits of travelling slowly up from the coast is that you are automatically acclimatising as you travel. Not to mention you get an idea of the stunning landscape and mountains as you travel! The top recommended buses are Cruz del Sur, Palomino and ExcluCiva.

….or Take the Long Way

    • Via Arequipa and/or Puno – If you have the time, spend a day or two in Lima and then head to Arequipa or Puno (or both!) to gradually acclimatize to the altitude over the space of several days before you arrive in Cusco for your trek. We offer 3 and 4 day package tours to Arequipa and Puno that you can add onto to your trek.

More resources on Rainbow Mountain and the surrounding Ausangate region

    For more information about the area surrounding Rainbow Mountain, check out these helpful articles from our website and blog:

    • The Spirit of Apu Ausangate – A description of life in the Ausangate region, what Ausangate mountain means for the Andean people who live nearby and their cultural traditions.
    • 15 Most Instagrammable Places in Peru – Peru is a hotspot for Instagram-worthy photos these days, including Rainbow Mountain!
    • Exploring the Rainbow Mountain Hike – The Apus Peru team explored the Rainbow Mountain hike when it was still relatively new. We met with locals who helped us design a unique route that would help keep our trekkers off the beaten path.
apus-peru-handy-in-the-andes


3 Reviews
Sort By:RatingDate

Florian J. (France)

Couple Traveller

[The highlight of the trek was] the view on the top of the mountain. Thank you!!!

29 September, 2023

Christelle V. (South Africa)

Group Traveller

Our guide William was enthusiastic and open to all our questions. The arrival in the afternoon made a wonderful ascent where we had the peak nearly to ourselves! William took excellent care of our team, one of which was struggling. Very attentive, explained local traditions and helped us with photos! Really appreciated the driver’s caution on the turns. Food was excellent + the chef was very welcoming. I would gladly promote Apus as a lovely and attentive experience!

8 August, 2023

PaigeMK

Family Traveller

“Our family (mom 56, dad 53, son 20, daugher 18) took a day trip to Rainbow Mountain with Apus Peru. While we a hike a good deal in the U.S., we have never hiked at such high altitude and were a little apprehensive. Apus Peru provided very detailed information (and asked us for detailed information), and also required an in-person orientation prior to the hike…all of which helped us feel comfortable that the trek was a good fit for our ability and that we had guides who took our health and safety seriously. Providing an “emergency horse” (we used) and oxygen (we didn’t use) were also helpful in assuring we were able to address any challenges presented by the altitude. The guide and driver picked us up near our apartment in Cusco at 7:30 am…a much later start than the other Rainbow Mountain tours. Not only did this mean we started with a good night’s sleep, but it also meant we were arriving at the peak as the crowds from larger tours were leaving. We also felt more comfortable hiking with a smaller group where we were able to set the pace and take our time to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Rainbow Mountain was spectacular, but the entire drive and hike to and from the mountain were equally beautiful. The lunch provided was excellent, and we appreciated our guide making sure we had a cup of hot coca tea waiting for us at the summit. Our guide was friendly and helpful, with great English for those in our group who didn’t speak Spanish. It meant a lot to us to tour with a company committed to responsible, respectful, sustainable tourism and giving back to local communities.”

12 July, 2019

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