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Our Rainbow Mountain 2 day trek is designed to get you out of sync with the crowds! We’ll climb high passes with stunning views of snow-capped mountains, incredible valleys and, of course, the namesake colored stripes of Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain.
Get to know another side of Ausangate on our Rainbow Mountain 2 day trek! Known locally as Vinicunca (cunca means “neck” in Quechua, the local indigenous language), this hidden gem in the Ausangate region goes by a lot of nicknames: Rainbow mountain, Painted mountain, Colored mountain, and even Stripy mountain – all of which speak to its radiant colored peaks.
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.
See What To Bring or our comprehensive recommendations on what to pack for an Andean trek.
This is a particularly cold trek due to the high altitude and proximity to glaciers, and the nighttime temperature can reach as low as -15°C (5°F). You must make sure you bring enough warm layers with you!
To protect you from the elements, we particularly recommend:
During the hike, your personal belongings will be carried by mules or horses which may be very far ahead of you on the trail. Therefore, don’t forget to bring a daypack as well in which to carry essentials that you’ll need with you on the trail (see below, under FAQs, What do I need to carry on the trail?)
Other items you should make sure to pack for your 2 day Rainbow Mountain trek:
For more great suggestions, check out our blog about How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru.
All of our guides are chosen based on their knowledge of the trekking route, their personality and experience with trekking in remote regions. As well as being authorized official guides, our team regularly participates in specialized training courses such as high altitude first aid and mountain rescue courses. If you want to know more about our guides, meet our team!
Apus Peru is one of the longest-serving trekking companies in Cusco. Safety is one of our main priorities which is why we have a comprehensive risk assessment policy. This policy covers a lot of issues which could occur on any of our treks, from vehicle maintenance to sickness and evacuation procedures on the trail.
Our commitment to safety is why we do not operate several treks – including the 2 day Rainbow Mountain tour – during the rainy season when conditions make most trails unsafe.
Want to join a Rainbow Mountain 2 day trek? 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!
Our Rainbow Mountain 2 day trek starts early as we travel from Cusco to Rainbow Mountain after breakfast at your hotel. To start our trip, we head in the direction of Puno. We will travel on an asphalt road across the altiplano and through the fertile Vilcanota Valley.
After about 2 hours of driving, we will turn off onto an unpaved road, stopping at the picturesque village of Checacupe. After a visit to the Colonial Church of the Immaculate Conception, we’ll start ascending the Pitumarka Valley.
We arrive at Pitumarka town for a brief stop: we can buy some basic refreshments here before continuing through to the village at Hanchi Pacha. From here it’s one hour more on our way to the trailhead for our 2 day Rainbow Mountain trek, travelling through some lovely picturesque valleys and canyons. There are some interesting rock formations on this section of the road, and we will definitely allow time for scenic photos!
We should arrive at the village of Qh’esihuno after a total of 4 hours of travel from Cusco. From here, we will hike for approximately 3 hours, climbing steadily until we reach the Ausangate viewpoint at Pucacocha Pass (4950m / 16,240 ft). Here, we’ll enjoy incredible views of the valley, colorful lagoons and the magnificent Apu Ausangate itself.
We then descend to Anantapata at 4750m (15,583 ft) where we will camp for the night. As this is a high altitude campsite, it is important that you’ve had at least 3 days of acclimatization at altitude before starting this hike. It can also get very chilly, so we recommend layers of warm clothing and a -15˚C (5˚F) sleeping bag!
Along the route, there might be the chance to meet one of the local weavers keeping watch over her flocks, while weaving. This part of the Rainbow Mountain region, Quispicanchis, has a wonderful textile tradition!
After an early breakfast, we begin day 2 of our Rainbow Mountain 2 day trek. We will walk for about 3 hours, ascending towards Vinicunca Pass and passing over two mountains along the way. After the first 1h30, we will reach the Warmisaya Pass (5020m / 16,469 ft). Our breathing will become more and more labored as we gain altitude. Once we arrive at the top of the pass there may be some cold gusts of wind, so make sure that you are bundled up and that your head is covered with a woolly hat!
From this point we will have a splendid view of the Apu Ausangate and the colored rainbow mountains in the distance. We will descend to a lagoon before continuing to ascend in the direction of Vinicunca.
You will be rewarded for your efforts on this Rainbow Mountain 2 day trek when you finally see the amazing Vinicunca, with its colorful layers of rock sediment: turquoise, orange, brown, and red! In addition to the great views of the colored mountain itself, you will have impressive views of the snow-capped Apu Ausangate, when the day is clear.
After some time to rest and take photos, we’ll head back the way we came until we reach K’airahuiri. The return hike downhill will be a lot quicker than the ascent, and should take around 2-2.5 hours. There will be plenty of beautiful scenery to feast our eyes upon along the way.
We’ll have an early lunch at K’airahuiri, say goodbye to our local crew, and then head back to Cusco in our private transport. We should arrive back in Cusco at approximately 4 pm.
Optional Extra: Time and energy permitting, for those who are in good physical condition and well-acclimatized, we can take an optional extra hike through the Red Valley before returning to Cusco.
We rate this 2 day Rainbow Mountain trek as moderate.(See how we rate all of our treks in the Cusco region!)
You will be hiking 12-14km (roughly 5-6 hours) each day. The trail is rocky and mountainous with a series of steep ascents and descents each day. The uphill climbs are challenging for most people as they provide an intense cardiovascular workout! The downhill sections can also be hard on the knees. We recommend walking sticks as they can help with both uphill and downhill.
The Rainbow Mountain Peru 2 day trip is also a particularly high altitude trek. You will be hiking to altitudes of over 5000m (16,404 ft) and camping at 4750m (15,583 ft). The altitude only amplifies the challenges of a strenuous hike and can cause altitude sickness symptoms in those who are not properly acclimatized. You must spend at least 3 days acclimatizing to the altitude before beginning this trek.
Weather in the Andes is fickle and even more so at high elevations. Changing conditions – including gusts of cold wind, freezing overnight temperatures, unexpected rain showers or even snow – can all add to the difficulty of this 2 day hike.
Remember: there are no “easy” treks in the Cusco region. Even short treks like this 2 day Rainbow Mountain trek present their own challenges, mostly due to the high altitude, steep mountains and changing weather conditions.
For general advice about what you can do to get fit and ready for your trek, check out our Trekking Tip #3.
In general terms, the fitter you are, the easier and more enjoyable the hike is going to be. Let that be your rule of thumb!
For the Rainbow Mountain 2 day trek, if you have a regular fitness regimen, are used to doing multi-day hikes (especially in the mountains!) and have spent time acclimatizing to the altitude, you should have no trouble meeting the challenges of this trek.
If you don’t have a lot of hiking experience or work out regularly at the gym, we recommend embarking on a fitness program before you travel to Peru. This might include a cardiovascular program at a gym, or day hikes in your area. Any training program you undertake should be done under the supervision of a doctor or fitness professional, and should be tailored to your own specific abilities and level of fitness.
Despite being just 2 days, the Rainbow Mountain 2 day trek reaches some of the highest elevations of any trek in the region, so the more time spent acclimatizing, the better. We recommend a minimum of 3 days.
The best way to prepare yourself for the high altitudes reached on this trek is to spend time acclimatizing at a high-altitude city, such as Cusco. Some people make the mistake of going too high, too soon. Acclimatization should be gradual, and the first day or two should be taken slowly.
When you are not acclimatized, high altitudes put a lot of stress and strain on the whole body – not just your lungs. Therefore, you should make sure to get plenty of rest when you first arrive at altitude, and not over-tax yourself. Light, nutritious meals, plenty of fluids (water or herbal tea), and restful sleep will all help you adjust and avoid symptoms of altitude sickness.
Learn more about Altitude and How to Acclimatize before you begin your hike.
Between May and August is the best time of year to plan your 2 day Rainbow Mountain hike. This is known as “dry season” in the Andes, when conditions are most favourable to trekking. The trails should be clean and dry, and you are most likely to have clear, sunny days while you hike. Dry season also coincides with winter, though, so it can feel quite cold. On this trek, expect overnight temperatures well below freezing!
December to March is the rainy season, so we don’t recommend hiking the 2 day trek to Rainbow Mountain during these months. Heavy rains can provoke rockslides and road washouts, creating unsafe trekking conditions. Rain also often means snow at higher elevations. This can dramatically affect your trekking experience and, what’s more, your views of the spectacular Rainbow Mountains themselves! You don’t want to hike all that way just to find them covered in a blanket of snow.
It is also possible to do the 2 day Rainbow Mountain trek during the months of April, September, October. The weather during these “shoulder months” is a harder to predict, so we book treks on a contingency basis and monitor conditions carefully. Our wet season policy indicates that we have the right to cancel or change the trekking route on any trek or tour booked during these months if conditions are unsafe.
Read more about the best time to hike and take note of our wet season trekking policy.
Our Rainbow Mountain 2 day trek starts and finishes in Cusco. The first breakfast and last dinner are not included, but all other meals are!
One of our professional trail chefs will be with you on your trek to prepare delicious and nutritious meals to power you up to the Rainbow Mountain! You will be surprised what amazing food our team can come up with at almost 5000m elevation! We carefully train our chefs so that they know what meals to cook and they know all about peoples’ dietary requirements. Just let us know at the time of booking if you have any allergies or preferences whilst on the trek.
You will spend one night camping on the trail. We provide top-of-the-range North Face tents, purpose-made for the extreme conditions we could face at a high elevation campsite. Our industrious muleteers will go on ahead and make sure the camp is set up for your arrival.
We also provide a sponge sleeping mattress, however you must bring your own sleeping bag unless you rent one of ours. We have toasty warm sleeping bags (good to -15°C / 5°F!) available for rent, excellent for high elevation camping.
You may prefer our Comfort Camping option which is available on this route. Comfort Camping includes larger tents, deluxe sleeping bag, comfortable blow-up mattress beds, and even a hot shower (albeit a short one!).
Read more at the link about What to Expect on the Trail, including more about equipment and meals.
For more customizations, get in touch with one of our Trek Experts by sending us an Enquiry!
Since most of your belongings will be carried by the mules in the duffle bags we provide, the only thing you really need to carry with you is a light day pack. In your day pack, you should carry all the essentials you will need for each day’s hike. You will only have access to your duffle bag once we reach the campsite. The mules often go on ahead with the muleteers to set up the campsite, so they are not with you all along the trail.
Some things we consider essential to put in your daypack:
Water is super important during the trek, and we recommend 2L per day. We will provide boiled and filtered water during the hike, including at the lunch stop, where you can refill your water bottle. However much water you need, let your guide know so that enough water can be boiled for everyone’s needs.
We provide meals and snacks during the trek, and meal times are a hearty experience! However, if you have a big appetite and like the odd snack or two during a hike, please bring your favourite snacks to help you up the higher passes!
In order to answer whether the 2 day Rainbow Mountain trek is right for you, please ask yourself the following questions:
….or Take the Long Way
For more information about the area surrounding Rainbow Mountain, check out our landing page on Ausangate, or read these helpful articles about the region from our blog:
Urbano timed our arrival to arrive late in the afternoon to summit Rainbow Mountain lookout when most of the day’s crowd had left. Perfect! The entire second day was filled with spectacular views.
Meals were excellent! Our driver was very professional, took no chances as we witnessed from many other operators on the road!
Everything came off without any issues, pick ups, arrivals to/from adventures. Great team coordination again.
My wife and I enjoyed an overnight trek to Rainbow Mountain with Apus Peru. They were very well organized, the equipment was good, and the guide was knowledgeable. The cook even made us an anniversary cake (a real feat on a camping trip.) Even with questionable weather (we encountered rain, wind, a bit of snow, and a few moments of sun) the trip was fun. Bring good hiking shoe and warm clothes and acclimate before going in order to enjoy it to its fullest. This can be done in a very long day trip, but camping allows you to reach the mountain at first light and before the day trekkers, not to mention that camping is an experience in itself. We are and will be return clients!
This seems like an unusual tour because most of the people were on the 1 day trip and they looked miserable. We took a slightly different route and camped at 14,900 feet. Woke up really early and finished climbing the mountain. Only one other group was hiking with us so we really had the top of the mountain to ourselves. We explored the area and got to see more than the the normal picture of Vinicunca.
As we hiked out we saw hundreds of people making their way up the mountain, some on horseback. We were happy to be hiking out.
Guide was a really fun, knowledgeable person and we enjoyed spending our time with him. The porters and horseman were also very lively and kind and were from the area at the base of the mountain.