Rainbow Mountain, Peru – Your Questions Answered

Rainbow mountain

Where is Rainbow Mountain?

Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca Mountain is in the Andes of Peru and is about a 3 hour drive from the city of Cusco.

What is the best time to go?

The best time to visit Rainbow Mountain Peru is during the dry season/winter months (June-August). However, be aware that there are times when snow can fall on the mountain covering its colorful terrain.

Rainbow Mountain
Snow on the mountains next to Rainbow Mountain

Where does the mountain get its colors from?

The colors on Rainbow Mountain in Peru come directly from its mineral composition.

Rainbow Mountain
The colorful valley next to Rainbow Mountain

How do I get to Rainbow Mountain?

You can book a tour to Rainbow Mountain Peru from Cusco. It’s usually a full day tour.

How much does it cost?

I paid around $40 and it included hotel pick-up, the entrance ticket to the mountain, lunch and drop-off back to Cusco.

What do I need to wear/take with me?

Layer up for Rainbow Mountain. You walk through a valley completely exposed to the sun at first but it starts getting colder as you go up. It’s actually freezing and super windy right on top so it’s always good to be prepared with extra layering. Here are some of my suggested items of clothing to wear and other useful items to take with you.

  • Sweater, fleece and down jacket
  • Hiking boots
  • Beanie
  • Gloves
  • Day bag
  • Trekking poles
  • Medicine
  • Sunglasses
  • Money if you want to hire a horse
  • Water
  • Snacks

What can I expect during the tour and hike?

Expect to be picked up from your hotel in Cusco at 4 a.m. After some driving, you will probably stop for breakfast and then finally get to the starting point. The Rainbow Mountain hike starts at 14,650 feet or 44,80 meters. You have the option of hiring a horse at this point but if you want to start on your feet, you still have the option of getting a horse after as well.

Rainbow Mountain
The welcome sign at Rainbow Mountain

You start your initial hike through a valley surrounding by mountains and grazing lambs, alpacas and llamas. You will continue through this valley for a good bit of the hike.

The views are amazing around here but oxygen is low due to the altitude. It’s important to take it slow and drink lots of water as you go up.

Rainbow Mountain
The valley slowly turns in to an incline

After a certain point, the valley turns in to a gradual incline. This is where most people will start to truly feel the altitude. Rest if you need to and remember to listen to your body.

Rainbow Mountain
This is where you really start ascending to Rainbow Mountain
Rainbow Mountain
The last stretch
Rainbow Mountain
Glacier on the opposite side of Rainbow Mountain

It’s super windy right on top so remember to pack layers, a beanie and gloves.

How long does it take to hike up Rainbow Mountain?

It took me around 3.5 hours round trip but it may take you longer or shorter. The time really depends on you and your body.

Should I be worried about mountain sickness?

AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) or commonly known as mountain sickness is no joke and can prove to be deadly. Some people start feeling mountain sickness at around 8,000 feet or 2,400 meters. Since the starting elevation of Rainbow Mountain is well over 14,500 feet, it’s probably best for your body to be acclimatized to high altitudes. A couple of days in Cusco or the Inca Trail is probably a good idea before attempting Rainbow Mountain. It’s very important to listen to your body and stop going further if you start feeling any of mountain sickness’s many symptoms.

Do I need to be fit?

If you have never done any physical exercise, then this hike might not be for you. That being said, being fit will still not guard you against AMS as AMS can happen to anyone. If you don’t want to hike all the way, you can always hire a horse. However, the horse can only go up to a certain point and you will still need to hike the last and more difficult bit by foot.

Rainbow Mountain
Horses are available for hire

Are there restrooms available?

Restrooms are available at the beginning of the hike.

As always, let me know if you have any more questions!

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