• 2 Days / 1 Nights
  • Rigorous
  • 23km
  • 5,100m

Rainbow Mountain Trek with Aracari

The highlight of this breathtaking two day high-altitude trek is Vinicunca, known more commonly as Rainbow Mountain. Rainbow Mountain is a surreal and highly photogenic natural phenomena of mineral deposits streaked across sandstone rock. Located in the Cordillera Vilcanota, Rainbow Mountain is in close proximity to the highest sacred mountain in the Cusco region, Ausangate. Aracari arranges the Rainbow Mountain trek only as part of a longer tailormade itinerary to Peru, not on a standalone basis.

For two days you will trek through one of the most pristine mountain ecosystems in the world, and take in beautiful mountain views as well as wildlife in its natural habitat. To make the journey more comfortable, llamas or horses owned by the shepherds of the nearby Chillca community will carry the gear and you will spend the night in a comfortable tambo, an Andean lodge. Daily meals and snacks will be prepared by experienced chefs who will introduce you to Peruvian dishes and produce.

Crowd Avoidance Trekking

While many budget operators operate a one-day trek to Rainbow Mountain from Cusco, this two-day route allows you to avoid most of the crowds and follow little-trodden trails to reach the colorful summit. Sleeping relatively close by to Rainbow Mountain in a comfortable lodge also avoids the need for a painfully early departure time pre-sunrise from Cusco as a day trip. You will be able to reach Rainbow Mountain before most of the crowds descend on the peak. Aracari does not offer the one-day Rainbow Mountain hike as it is a trail that is suffering from over-tourism. Furthermore, the relative effort of the day trip – hiking uphill for several kilometers at altitude to reach a crowded photo spot – is not worth it. Instead, we recommend this two day version which offers a far superior experience.

Alternative Rainbow Mountain Treks

Aracari also arranges longer lodge-to-lodge Ausangate treks that take in Rainbow Mountain and the other natural highlights surrounding Ausangate. This area is simply stunning, with sparkling lagoons, Mars-like red valleys and dramatic landscapes. If you enjoy hiking, this region certainly merits more of your time and you will quickly realize that while Rainbow Mountain may have become a popular tourist attraction for backpackers and daytrippers, few realize the true beauty of this part of Peru. The best one-day alternative is a day-trip to Palcoyo. Palcoyo offers a series of colorful rainbow mountain views. Although similarly at altitude, Palcoyo requires relatively little hiking, making it a much more accessible day tour for those less experienced at hiking.

Rainbow Mountain Trek route

  • Day 1
    Cusco to Huampococha
    7 km

    Early in the morning you will be collected from Cusco to take a private transfer through the fertile Vilcanota Valley, en route to the village of Cusipata. You will then pass through the community of Quisacancha, where you can expect to see locals shepherding both llamas and alpacas. After the three hour ride you will arrive to an area called Collpapampa, which will be the starting point for your hike. Here, you will begin to ascend with a beautiful view of the mountain Nevado del Inca. As you hike, or while you stop for lunch on the trek, you may see hundreds of Andean geese nesting in the cliffs and the flat-iron formations of the mountain, Apu Labrayani. At the end of your three hour trek, you will arrive at the cozy lodge Huampococha Tambo, where you will have dinner and spend the night.

    Overnight at Huampococha Tambo Lodge

  • Day 2
    Huampococha to Vinicuna to Cusco
    16 km

    Early in the morning, enjoy breakfast at the lodge before setting out for the second day of your trek. You will ascend for about two hours, walking through intriguing formations of red sandstone. This part of the hike offers excellent opportunities to study geological wonders and admire the unique beauty of the landscape. Upon arrival at Vinicunca, you will get to marvel at the multicolored strata that paint the mountains red, yellow, ocher, gray, and blue. After enjoying the impressive colored landscape, you will descend for about three hours through the valley that leads to Japura, where you will enjoy lunch before taking your private transfer back to Cusco.

Please keep in mind that distances, altitudes and chosen campsites are subject to minor variations as the route undertaken may vary slightly. In addition, trekking time can vary for each hiker and any times detailed in the description below are averages.