RAINBOW MOUNTAINS DAY HIKE

1 Full Day

See the amazing VINICUNCA RAINBOW MOUNTAIN in a one day hike!

The RAINBOW MOUNTAIN is a spectacular natural wonder boasting colorful striated mountains. Surrounded by glacial mountains, this one-day hike is 10km/6.2 miles roundtrip and goes from 4326m/14,189ft to 5050m/16,568ft.

This day hike is moderate to strenuous and can be very crowded. We leave early in the morning (3am) to beat the crowds and arrive at the top first. We also hike to the Red Valley Pass (weather/time permitting) to see the deep red hues of the mountains on the other side of Vinicunca – a stunning example of mother nature at her finest!

A less strenuous day hike to another section of the Rainbow Mountains (Palcoyo) is the Three Rainbow Mountains Palcoyo Day Tour, suitable for all fitness levels. Another exceptionally beautiful day hike is the Lake Humantay One Day Hike.

The Rainbow Mountains are composed of stratified layers of sandstone. These fine-grained rock layers contain large amounts of iron and other minerals, which give the mountains the pigments for the various colored stripes. This is a moderate to challenging day hike, with a steep climb to the high pass and is subject to unpredictable weather. This trail is very popular and crowded and has suffered from a lot of erosion. It is not safe to hike in heavy rain. We recommend a 2, 4 or longer multi-day trek to truly appreciate this region. It is essential to be properly acclimatized for this hike, spending at least two or three days in Cusco (or equivalent altitude) before starting. Minimum passengers necessary for tour departure: 2 people (small group, 1 person or private/custom treks possible with extra fee). Maximum trekkers per group: 10 people (special, private party groups can exceed maximum).

Meters

Kilometers

Days

Nights

The Nitty Gritty Trek Details

Highlights

Stunning vista, Vinicunca, Rainbow Mountains, glacial peaks, Ausangate Mountain, Day Hike!

Location/Terrain

Glacial, snow-capped peaks, high pass, rocky terrain

Acclimatization

2-3 day acclimatization recommended

Duration

1 Day Hike

Distance

10 km/6.2 miles

Altitude

3300m/10,827ft to 5050m/16,568ft

Adventure Rating

★★★★☆
Moderate to strenuous, lengthy, high altitude

Solitude Rating

★☆☆☆☆
The day hike route is a crowded trail

When to Go

Best from March to November

Departures

Daily departures with 2 or more people

Prices USD

6-10 trekkers: $150pp,  3-5 trekkers: $200pp, 2 trekkers: $275pp

Customizable

Yes! Private, custom, add-ons all available.

DAY 01: CUSCO – ALQATARI – RAINBOW MOUNTAIN – RED VALLEY PASS – ALQATARI – CUSCO

We will pick you up very early from your Cusco hotel (3:00am) and set out on a drive through the South Valley. The drive to the trailhead at Alqatari (4326m/14,189ft) is about 3.5-4 hours. Once we reach the trailhead we will have our box breakfast with hot drinks. After breakfast, we start on our day hike, following a lovely stream until we get to the checkpoint that is the trail entrance. You will pass by beautiful herds of alpacas and llamas and along the way we will have distant views of the Ausangate Mountain. We will hike through villages and see the local residents. If we are very lucky we may see some chinchillas and vicuñas. Vicuñas are the only non-domesticated animal of the llama family in Peru and are very skittish. After a total uphill hike of approximately 2 to 2.5 hours, we reach the incredible Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain (5050m/16,568ft). After taking pictures you have approximately 45 minutes to explore (depending on walking speed) the area and enjoy the stunning views.  If we have time and weather permits, once we are done enjoying the scenery, having snacks, resting and taking pictures, we hike along the right side of the Rainbow Mountain to the Red Valley pass where you will see the beautiful, deep red hues located in this area. We take pictures here and then hike back down the way we came, taking approximately 1.5 hours to the trailhead where we started. Here we will have a hot buffet lunch and then we will take our private transport back to your hotel in Cusco (about a 3.5-4 hour drive).

  • Approximate departure time: 3:00 AM – we leave this early in order to be the first people at the top and avoid the crowds
  • Approximate arrival time in Cusco is around 5 PM
  • Walking distance: 10 km / 6.2 miles
  • Approximate walking time: 2 ½ hours up; 1 ½ hours down (total ~4 hours)
  • Meals: box breakfast, snacks, hot buffet lunch
  • Dietary needs: we can cater to any dietary restriction

* Please note the driving and walking times, time at each site, and departure/arrival time are approximate and depend upon many factors such as road conditions, weather, van size, group pace, etc. 

INCLUDED ON THE TRAIL
  • Pre-Trek briefing the night before the trek to go over the itinerary, meet your guide(s) and answer any questions
  • Collection from your hotel in the morning or our departure point (you choice) Plaza Regocijo
  • Private transport to the starting point of the trek
  • English speaking professional guide
  • Box breakfast, snacks, and hot buffet lunch with hot drinks at the end of the hike
  • Dietary needs: able to cater to any dietary preference/need
  • First-aid kit including an emergency oxygen tank
  • Chef and cooking equipment and kitchen tent
  • Dining tent with tables and stools
  • Toilet tent with toilet and toilet paper
  • Entrance to the Ausangate/Rainbow trail
  • Private transport back to your hotel in Cusco
NOT INCLUDED ON THE TRAIL
  • Flights/Hotel
  • Dinner
  • Water for the first part of the hike – please fill your bottles/bladder before you depart
  • Walking poles (poles must have intact rubber bottoms)
  • Horse to ride – you can add a horse to ride if you prefer (if it is rainy or slick this may not be possible or there may be areas where you will have to dismount and walk)
  • Items of a personal nature and souvenirs
  • Travel interruption & travel medical/evacuation insurance (required)
  • Tip for your guide(s) and trek staff are optional but highly encouraged if you enjoy your trek
PRICE AND NUMBER OF HIKERS

A minimum of 2 hikers required for this trek. Maximum of 10 trekkers in a group.

  • Price for 6-10 trekkers: 150 USD per person
  • Price for 3-5 trekkers: 200 USD per person
  • Price for 2 trekkers:  275 USD per person

Private treks, single trekker, custom treks, large groups, and packages welcome! Please email us to customize.

DIETARY NEEDS

Yes, we do cater to any dietary restriction. We have had many people join our trips who are vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, and have various other intolerances and/or allergies. Just inform us well in advance of your specific needs!

WHEN TO GO AND DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

March/April to November (or dry season) though it can be hiked year round. This trek is rated as a moderate to challenging (intermediate to advanced) hike considering the high altitude, amount of gain in a short period of time, and length of walking. It is recommended that you acclimatize in Cusco for at least 2-3 days before this day hike. Please note if the weather is very poor the trail could be dangerous and we may have to cancel the trip and may be able to substitute another day hike or day tour instead, depending on the circumstances.

WEATHER & WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR DAY HIKE

Weather on the hike and in Cusco

The weather varies a lot across Peru, having 28 climates and 84 of the worlds 104 ecosystems. Cusco is set high up (3,380 mts, 11,089 ft) in the Andean Mountain Range and the dry season (winter) is from March/April to October/November with the wettest part of the year (summer) being December through March. The weather for trekking is pretty much the same year round, with the main difference being the amount of rainfall. During the dry season, most days are dry and clear, but high-altitude mountains always have the potential for rain and/or snow so it is essential to come prepared for all types of weather regardless of the time of year. 

The Rainbow (Vinicunca) Day Hike is very high altitude, therefore the weather can be quite cold, windy, and unpredictable. As you’ll arrive quite early in the morning it will be chilly then. During the day it can get quite warm if the sun is out; anywhere from 60-75F/15-24C. Keep in mind, if the weather is rainy, snowy, or cloudy it will be colder, and that the weather can change in an instant, particularly when up at the high-altitude passes. It is often quite windy at the top of the pass as well. As with any high-altitude hike you’ll need to bring plenty of layers to adjust to the fluctuating temperatures and conditions as well as appropriate sun/rain protection.

Cusco weather: Cusco is always very cold at night due to the high altitude. It is regularly around 40F/4.4C at night so bring a nice warm jacket for nighttime walking in town. It is warmer in Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley and Aguas Calientes as these areas are lower altitudes than Cusco and the trek.

  • Sunscreen: the sun is very strong in Cusco
  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip balm
  • Hiking shoes/boots with good, grippy tread
  • Trekking poles (if you like hiking with these)
  • Optional: microspikes in case of excessive snowfall (rare)
  • Hiking pants and shirts (layers)
  • Hand warmers if you wish
  • Warm hat, gloves, scarf (or you can buy a traditional Peruvian hat and scarf – they are beautiful!)
  • Daypack and rain cover
  • Rain gear – rain jacket and rain pants (optional for the pants), can buy an inexpensive poncho before the trek
  • Cash for tipping porters (USD or Peruvian Soles are fine), cooks, horsemen, guides, buying items along the trail, for in town, emergencies, etc. Note: Cash should be in perfect condition (ripped, damaged bills of any kind are NOT accepted anywhere in Peru)
  • Torch/flashlight/headlamp (and batteries)
  • Extra snacks if you wish (beyond snacks provided by us)
    • E.g. if you have a favorite protein bar as Cusco doesn’t sell items like this
  • First aid kit, including blister protection (though your guide will have one, you may wish to carry one of your own)
  • Personal medication and toiletries you might want/need
  • Camera, extra memory cards, batteries and solar panel/power bank
  • Water bottle or water bladder to refill
  • Passport (must be valid 6 months past your final travel dates for most countries)
  • Copies of passport (keep copies separate, give to travel friends to keep, etc)
  • Power plug adapter
  • Travel lock(s) approved by TSA (or they cut them off – US only)
  • Tickets, itinerary, emergency contact information
  • Any medications you currently are taking or need/may need (see suggestions below)
  • Small quick-dry pak towels and/or compostable wipes for a quick wipe down at the end of the day

What to bring (general for Peru): medications – medications are optional and depend on your specific needs

  • Antibiotic for travelers diarrhea or UTI
  • Antibiotic for a severe bacterial infection
  • Medication for upset stomach/indigestion
  • Medication for prevention of altitude sickness (requires a prescription from your physician and has contraindications for certain people and potential side effects)
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (some people find this is useful for prevention of altitude sickness as well. Speak with your physician for more information)
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Anti-nausea medication for motion sickness/altitude sickness if needed
  • Cold/flu medication
  • General pain killer/fever reducer
  • Vaccinations – recommend bringing all boosters up to date (MMR, tetanus, etc)

We have blogged about what we bring and you can use it as a general guideline if you wish: What To Pack For Peru Trekking

View latest travel advisories and recommended vaccinations and medications for the regions you plan to visit. For Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu there are generally no vaccinations required. If you are going to the jungle or any other higher risk area you may need: yellow fever vaccine, medicine for malaria, typhoid vaccine, etc. Click here for updated info: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/peru.aspx NOTE: Please consider visiting your doctor several weeks before your trip to discuss any health restrictions you may have, medications he/she might recommend for you personally, and to seek more information about any vaccinations or medications recommended for Peru (or any of your other destinations). Additionally: speak with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter and/or prescription medications alone or combined.

WHAT TO CARRY - DAYPACKS

On the trail you should carry a day pack with your camera, water bottle or bladder, snacks, cold weather clothing and rain gear or poncho in case of rain (unlikely in dry season – May to October) and anything you will need while hiking. A recommended packing list is sent after you book the trip and can be found below under the “what to bring on your day hike” tab. Yes, we do offer luggage storage if needed and most hotels/hostels in Cusco also offer this service.

DONATING/VOLUNTEERING

Helping Local Children or Andean People (Optional) Along certain treks we may encounter some local children and Andean people.  If you wish to lend a helping hand you may bring some clothes, toys, books and school equipment (used or new), toiletries and other essentials, and new/sealed medication for a variety of ailments.  You will be rewarded with their gratitude and beautiful smiles. Please do not give candy or sweets as they do not have access to dental/medical care and tooth decay can lead to serious illness.

For those who wish to help but take a trek that does not pass local people or villages you can leave your donated items with a Killa Expeditions representative and we will distribute them to one of the local communities that we support.  You can also set up a day to visit a local community to donate your items personally! There are a variety of other ways in which to lend a helping hand to local communities (charity events, building schools, and much more). We support several local communities so if interested please get in touch!

PAYMENT & PASSPORT INFO

Deposit: The entire day hike cost will be charged to your card when you book the trip. 50% of this is non-refundable.

Payment of Balance: The balance of the tour is due 30 days (changing to 60 days prior starting 2020) prior to departure and will be auto-debited via the booking software system on that date. If you wish to pay early, or use a different card to the one you have on file, you may do so by clicking on the reservation number in your confirmation email and entering the pin that was provided to you in the original confirmation email. If you wish to make other arrangements (e.g. pay cash in Cusco), please contact us. Please note if you book your trip within 30 days of departure, the balance of the trek will be auto-debited the next day. If you do not wish this to happen please contact us.

Passport: For this trek we do NOT need a photo of your passport bio page. However, as this involves international travel, please note that each traveler is responsible for knowing the re-entry rules for their country of residence/citizenship. Some countries require 6 months of passport validity beyond the final date of travel. Please ensure that your passport is up to date and meets your country and residency requirements.

Visa’s: Most countries are allowed to obtain a visa upon entry at immigration. Very few countries require a visa to be granted in advance. Please note that each traveler is responsible for finding out and obtaining a visa prior to entry if required. Please also note that tourist visas are for 90 days or less (typically) and you must show proof of return travel.

BOOKING TERMS/CANCELLATION

Please review our booking terms carefully.

  • The minimum number of trekkers required for departure is 6 for the price quoted online. If the minimum is not met within 2 weeks of departure, Killa Expeditions reserves the right to offer the 1-2 paid trekkers the option of 1) paying the difference to take a private trek, 2) transferring their payment to another trek with more trekkers booked, or 3) cancel the trek and provide a full refund. Please contact us with questions.
  • At the time of booking the entire day hike cost is charged. This is required to secure your spot on the tour and 50% is non-refundable. The balance of the trip (if any) is due within 30 days of departure (or 60 days as of 2020 trips)
  • Cancellations: Initial deposit is non-refundable. You may cancel your booking by notifying Killa Expeditions or Agent used and the applicable cancellation fees shall be determined based on when the request is received by Killa Expeditions or Agent. (a) Cancellation received 60 days or more before departure of the first Product to depart in relevant booking: 60% of the Product total shall be refunded to you (Inca Trail excepted where 25% of the Inca Trail product total shall be refunded to you). (b) Cancellation received 59-30 days before departure of first Product to depart in relevant booking: an amount equal to 25% of the total Product shall be refunded to you. (Inca Trail excepted where no refund is payable). (c) Cancellation less than 30 days before departure of first Product to depart in relevant booking: no refund shall be payable to you.
  • Travel Medical Insurance: is required to depart on any trek (including emergency evacuation coverage and high altitude hiking). We also suggest travel interruption insurance in the event of inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances that may arise. Killa Expeditions is not responsible for losses incurred due to any travel interruption (ex: weather/natural phenomena, missed/delayed/canceled flight, acts of war/terrorism, strikes, etc.), passport, visa, family emergency, or illness/medical issues.
  • For Full Terms and Conditions please see the policy linked at the bottom of our website in the footer. It is also available to read during the checkout process. https://killaexpeditions.com/terms-conditions-peru/
WHY CHOOSE KILLA EXPEDITIONS?

ETHICAL, SUSTAINABLE, ECO-FRIENDLY  Our mission is to provide exceptional treks, tours, and adventure trips with a strong commitment to environmentally responsible, sustainable, ethical, and socially conscious travel. During our trips, we make every effort to minimize negative impacts and maximize the benefits to the local people and natural environments we visit. We pay fair, livable wages, ensuring we hire and maintain the absolute best guides and support staff. We are committed to international sustainable tourism guidelines and have developed ongoing community projects and charity events supporting 4+ local Andean communities.

EXCELLENCE We pride ourselves on providing 5 star service before, during, and after your trip. Killa Expeditions is dedicated to excellent customer service and adventure experiences. We have been awarded the 2017, 2018 & 2019 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence!

QUALITY When trekking through rugged mountain terrain, at high altitudes, with unpredictable weather, it is essential to have the best equipment available. We provide Mountain Hardwear 4 season tents (3 season for Inca Trail due to warmer weather), extra thick mattress pads, dry bags for your overnight gear, and more, to ensure a safe and pleasant journey.

NO HIDDEN COSTS Our treks and tours are truly 5 star and all inclusive. We do not charge extra to “upgrade” as we offer the best option included in the price already. There are no hidden meal costs, we are transparent about all inclusions, and best of all no booking fees!

SMALL GROUPS Our groups average about 8 guests per departure, and are typically a mix of solo travellers, friends travelling together, and couples, all of varying ages, backgrounds and nationalities. Come prepared to make lots of new best friends. If you book a custom/private large group we provide 1 guide per 8 travelers, ensuring a small group feel and specialized attention.

GOURMET Only the best, quality ingredients are selected from local farmers. Our chefs prepare a specially designed menu to maximize energy and facilitate acclimatization.  And the dishes, a mix of traditional Peruvian cuisine and contemporary cuisines, are delicious too! And yes, we cater to any dietary need.

PERSONALIZED We can customize any trek or tour to suit your travel, fitness, budget, and time preferences. Got a corporate or work shindig, charity group, or other major event you’d like to book a trek or tour for? Get in touch, we can arrange everything for you!

LEAVE NO TRACE Our trips leave behind nothing but smiles and footprints, as it should be.

REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE We love our planet, which is why we reduce, reuse and recycle. Our gear is reusable (no paper or plastic plates/cups/utensils), we buy local goods that do not come in paper/plastic wrapping, and we recycle everything we can. This is not the norm in Peru but we hope to help it become the norm one day soon!

PASSIONATE All of our employees are passionate about what they do. Who wouldn’t be with majestic mountains and never-ending vistas as your office! We are proud to offer our guides and staff the highest wages.

WE GIVE BACK We buy locally produced food, hire native tour guides, and book locally owned hotels and restaurants whenever possible. We hold numerous charity events throughout the year in various traditional Andean communities. Events often involve distributing food, drinks, daily essentials (such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, and more), toys for the children, shoes and clothes donated by many of our wonderful guests, and we are currently raising funds to finish building a school in the Willoc Community.  Ask us about how you can help!

For further information about us please see the following links:

Equipment: learn about why we provide the best! http://www.killaexpeditions.com/our-equipment/

Our Team: meet some of our amazing guides! http://www.killaexpeditions.com/our-team/

Reviews – find us on Trip Advisor! Killa Expeditions Trip Advisor Page (Awarded 2017, 2018 & 2019 Certificate of Excellence)

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Don’t want to book online? Have a private group or want to build your own adventure? We can help you book over the phone. Give us a call at +1 (619) 736-TREK or drop us a line with your number and we will call you back!

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