Peru is a beautiful country with its natural wonders, such as Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines, and Lake Titicaca, and its rich cultural heritage and fantastic food. In the last decade, a new tourist destination caught the attention of intrepid travelers, the colored hills of Vinincunca Mountain. This is the second most visited tourist destination in Peru after Machu Picchu and here you can find different Rainbow Mountains.

The Andes of Peru divide the Country into three regions; the coastal desert, the high Andean valleys, and the Amazon Rainforest. Cusco is located above 3000 meters, surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains; the highest mountain peak is the Ausangate, with 6385 meters, located in Vilcanota Mountain Range that divides Cusco and the Amazon plains Puerto Maldonado and Junin.

The Most famous Rainbow Mountains or Colored Mountains are located near this great Mountain of Ausangate:

The Classic Rainbow Mountain of Peru – Vinicunca

Vinicunca, Winicunca, The Colored Mountain, or Rainbow Mountain, is located in the southeast of the Peruvian Andes, 5,200 meters (17,100 feet) next to the Ausangate Mountain, between the district of Pitumarca and Cusipata in the Cusco region.

Vinicunca - rainbow mountains

Location:

Rainbow Mountain is located between the Cusipata district, province de Quispicanchi, Pitumarca district, and province de Canchis, 100 kilometers southeast of Cusco.

Map:

History:

The Inca considered mountains to be local deities and protectors of the people, and they performed ceremonial rituals to pay tribute to these mountains. The Rainbow Mountain is a sacred deity for locals; every time they dare to pass this high peak, they must leave some offerings such as coca leaves and grains.

How did Rainbow Mountain become so popular?

Rainbow Mountain is a relatively new destination; it was unknown or little known until 2010. On the other hand, Ausangate is one of the highest mountains in Peru, and explorers hike around it every week.

Rainbow Mountain was on the route of the Ausangate Trek, where travelers used to stop by and take pictures. It was not until after 2010, when Facebook posting and Instagram posts became popular, that travelers started to share their photographs, which slowly captured the eyes of many travelers. Today, this mountain is so famous that thousands of visitors arrive every day.

How to get to Rainbow Mountain?

To get to Rainbow Mountain from Cusco, you must follow south through the highway to Puno for about 2 hours and then continue through a dirt route to Rainbow Mountain for about 1.5 hours to the trailhead. There are two ways to get to Rainbow Mountain from the Cusco – Puno highway:

  • Cusco – Checccupe – Pitumarca – Rainbow Mountain:

The original route to Rainbow Mountain was the only route to access Rainbow Mountain; take almost 4 hours to get from Cusco to the trailhead. Nowadays, this trail is used by a few tour operators due to the long drive.

  • Cusco – Cusipata – Chillihuani – Rainbow Mountain:

The new and easiest access to Rainbow Mountains takes around 3 hours to arrive at the trailhead, and the hike is also easier with a gradual inclination.

How much does a tour cost?

Rainbow Mountain tours you can find at very low prices; a basic tour is offered at approximately 30$ in a shared service and bilingual guide. During this tour is expected to be in a large group, basic meal in a local restaurant, and tour guides might be bilingual, this means that the tour guide will explain in 2 languages.

What is Red Valley?

Another beautiful but rarely visited site is located just a 30-minute hike from Rainbow Mountain. Red Valley offers an amazing reddish landscape due to its high iron concentration in the soil. TreXperience the Red Valley in all our Rainbow Mountain tours.

Palcoyo Mountain – The Alternative Rainbow Mountain

The new Rainbow Mountain is located in the village of Palcoyo, at 4900 meters, in the district of Combapta, province of Canchis—Palcoyo, on the new Alternative Day tour to the Classic Vinicunca Mountain.

In the last years, Rainbow Mountain has become so popular that thousands of visitors arrive in Cusco and visit this amazing place. Palcoyo has become an alternative option for those who like to visit less crowded places.

Palcoyo rainbow mountains

Palcoyo Location:

Palcoyo is located 20 kilometers south of Classic Rainbow Mountain. To access this amazing place, you must travel from Cusco for 4 hours by car; the top of this mountain is 4900 meters (16076 feet), significantly lower than Rainbow Mountain.

Map:

History:

Palcoyo is a recently discovered destination; it became popular after Rainbow Mountain today. We have hundreds of visitors daily; however, this destination gets fewer visitors than the Classic Inca Trail.

What can we see on Palcoyo Mountain?

Palcoyo is an amazing day hike in Cusco; you will be able to visit the Stone Forest and explore the 3 Rainbow Mountains, separated by beautiful valleys.

Pallay Punchu Mountain

The newest colored Mountain is located in the Layo district, only 3 hours from Cusco. Pallay Punchu Mountains offer a fantastic view to its visitors.

rainbow mountains
Pallay Punchu Mountain

Pallay Punchu Meaning:

Pallay Punchu comes from a Quechua word that refers to the colored ponchos that locals used.

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