Rainbow Mountain, is a mountain in the Andes of Peru with an altitude of 5,200 metres above sea level.
- Elevation: 5,200 m
- Range: Andes
Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca (Mountain of Seven Colors), sits in a remote region of the Peruvian Andes, about a three-hour drive from Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire. . It is part of the Vilcanota mountain range and the Ausangate mountain, which is with 6384 meters, the highest mountain in the Cusco region. The local people of this region keep herds of llamas and alpacas, so you’ll have the chance to see many of these furry creatures along the way. Weather conditions can also complicate the journey, with both blistering cold temperatures and intense UV rays due to the elevation. But while getting there might be a little tough, the extraordinary view once you reach the top will make it all worth it.
Formed by weathering, environmental conditions and sedimentary deposits over time, the mountain’s unique minerology created a marbling effect, with layered hues of gold, lavender, red and turquoise towering into the sky.
When To Go
Even though rainbows usually appear after the rain has fallen, wet weather is really not your friend when it comes to experiencing Rainbow Mountain at its finest. But November to April is perfect season to come here. The dry season in Peru is from April to October, but it can rain (or even snow) any time of the year at this altitude. Apart from the rain, you should also expect cold winds and strong sunshine (don’t be fooled by clouds).
THE RAINBOW MOUNTAIN SO COLORFUL
why the Rainbow Mountain is striped with multiple colors such as yellows, greens, reds, and purples, but two main reasons that stand behind this phenomenon are called weathering and mineralogy. Different layers of sediment rock change colors when exposed to environmental conditions such as wind or water, and we cannot forget that the high altitude also plays an important role in this process. That’s why sediments of iron oxide turn red or iron sulfide turn into bright yellow.
What to Pack
- Visiting Rainbow Mountain involves a strenuous climb, and having sturdy hiking boots is a must.
- Also, be sure to pack a rain jacket to stay dry in case of a sudden change in the weather.
- Had a puffer jacket with us that we wore on top to keep us warm when taking pictures. Long hiking pants or leggings are essential, as are a hat, sunscreen, lip balm and a sporty t-shirt.
- Take plenty of water (at least 1.5 liters per person) and snacks (bananas, quinoa bars, or consider nutritional energy bars).
- Water in souvenir shops near Rainbow Mountain is too expensive, you must bring your reusable water bottle.
- Try to avoid using single-use plastic bottles and reduce your plastic footprint when traveling.
- A fully charged travel camera should go without saying as you are very likely to take pictures of your life here.
- Take medicine for altitude sickness such as Acetazolamide (Diamox), which is sold over the counter in Peru.
- Drink coca tea, an herbal remedy for altitude sickness used by local peoples for thousands of years.
- Avoid heavy meals, alcoholic beverages and smoking cigarettes.
The altitude, more so than the incline of the trail, adds to the challenge factor of the hike. The trailhead starts at around 4,300 meters (14,000 feet) and climbs to just over 5,000 meters (16,400 feet). Many people have a hard time and end up paying for a horseback ride offered by one of the locals walking along the trail. The hike to Rainbow Mountain will usually take around 3 hours depending on your speed and level of physical fitness. For those who prefer not to hike, there are usually horses available for rent along the trail, however they can only bring you to the end of the flat part of the trail where you’ll have to dismount and climb the final stretch on foot to reach the summit.