Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca is a colorful sedimentary mountain with a peak of just over 5,000m (16,466 ft). Because of this, we recommend to at least aclimate for three days in Cusco, Peru before going on a day trip to Rainbow Mountain.
We were picked up at our hotel in Cusco at 3:30 am to head towards Rainbow Mountain. We arrived around 6:30 am and ate breakfast, while the guide explained our itinerary. The scenery was beautiful already, we were surrounded by gorgeous mountains and beautiful green plains. After breakfast we started our hike, we had the chance to rent a horse both ways for 70 soles (≈$20 USD).
It is worth hiring the horse if you will have any problems hiking long distances at high altitude. Please keep in mind that even if you rent a horse you will still have to hike around 1km to the top of the mountain. During the hike there will be moments where you cannot ride the horse and will need to walk up or down the mountain as well.
The hike itself is 9 kilometers each way with 700 meters in elevation gain. It is a 3 to 3.5 hours hike and during the last 30 minutes you might need to stop to catch your breath every few steps.
After the long hike you get to see a beautiful range of mountains full of colors. You cannot stay on the top longer than 30 minutes. The air is too thin and can cause headache or altitude sickness. After taking pictures and enjoying the view you hike back to the bus along the same path.
The hike was one of the hardest we have ever done, and Steven has previously done a 42km one day hike with 2290 meters elevation gain, so do not take this trip lightly. There are several points where you just have to stop for several minutes to regain your energy.
We ate lunch at the bottom and then headed back to Cusco. The ride back to Cusco is about 3 hours and you will be back around 5:00 pm, leaving you ready for a comfortable bed and a long nights sleep.
We took a tour to Rainbow Mountain. The tour companies in Cusco work with third parties which is why we are sharing the contact info of our tour guide, Carlos, to Rainbow Mountain. He was kind, prepared and always ready to help. In fact he stayed with Jazmin the whole way giving her strength to keep going. You will find different prices for this tour from 80 soles all the way to 300 soles. So look for the best price and the best guide.
Carlos Javier Vargas
WhatsApp: +51 984 788383 or +51 934 983471