RAINBOW MOUNTAINS DAY HIKE
1 Full Day
See the amazing VINICUNCA RAINBOW MOUNTAINS in a one day hike!
The RAINBOW MOUNTAINS is a spectacular natural wonder boasting colorful striated mountains. Surrounded by glacial mountains, this one-day hike is 12km/7.5 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 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).
The Nitty Gritty Trek Details
Off the beaten path, pristine wilderness, Vinicunca, Rainbow Mountains, glacial peaks, Ausangate Mountain, Day Hike!
Glacial, snow-capped peaks, high pass, rocky terrain
2-3 day acclimatization recommended
1 Day Hike
12 km/7.5 miles
3300m/10,827ft to 5050m/16,568ft
Moderate to strenuous, lengthy, high altitude
The day hike route is a crowded trail
When to Go
Best from March to November
Daily departures with 2 or more people
6-10 trekkers: $150pp, 3-5 trekkers: $200pp, 2 trekkers: $275pp
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 3 hours, we reach the incredible Rainbow Mountains (5050m/16,568ft). After taking pictures you have approximately 45 minutes to explore (depending on walking speed) the area and enjoy the stunning views. 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 Rainbow 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 2 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 between 7 and 8 PM
- Walking distance: 12 km / 7 ½ miles
- Approximate walking time: 3 ½ hours up; 2 hours down (total 5.5-6 hours)
- Meals: box breakfast, snacks, hot buffet lunch
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 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
- First-aid kit including 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 hotel in Cusco
NOT INCLUDED ON THE TRAIL
- 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 there will be areas where you will have to dismount and walk)
- Items of a personal nature and souvenirs
- Travel medical insurance
- Tip for your guide(s) and trek staff are optional but highly encouraged if you enjoy your trek
WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR DAY HIKE
What to bring: for your day hike: The weather varies a lot in Peru, having 28 climates and 84 of the worlds 104 ecosystems. Cusco is set high up (3,380 mts, 11,089 ft) near the Andean Mountain Range and the dry season (winter) is from April/May to October/November with the wettest part of the year (summer) being January through March. Temperatures don’t vary too much between these seasons but the amount of precipitation does. If the sun is out it can be quite warm, but in the shade it gets cool fast. Temperatures change quickly and you will need layers as you hike during the day. Everything you need for the day should be kept in your daypack that you carry. It is recommended not to hike in cotton or jeans in the event of rain as cotton takes a very long time to dry. It is also recommended to bring true hiking boots or trail running shoes as regular running shoes do not get very good traction especially when it has rained
- Sunscreen: the sun is very strong in Cusco
- Sun hat
- Lip balm
- Hiking shoes/boots
- Hiking pants and shirts/fleece/sweater/shell (layers)
- Hand warmers if you wish
- Warm hat, gloves, scarf and thick warm socks (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), or can buy an inexpensive poncho before the trek in Cusco
- Cash for tipping the cook, guide, buying items along the trail, for in town, emergencies, etc. Note: Cash should be in perfect condition (ripped, damaged soles are NOT accepted anywhere in Peru)
- Extra snacks if you wish (beyond snacks provided by us)
- E.g. if you have a favorite protein bar (as Cusco does not have anything 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
- Camera, extra memory cards/film, batteries
- Water bottle or water bladder
- Passport (must be valid 6 months past your travel dates for most countries)
- Copies of passport (keep copies separate, give to travel friends to keep, etc)
- Power adapter/converter
- 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)
What to bring: 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
- 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)
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 visit 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.
PRICE AND NUMBER OF TREKKERS
A minimum of 2 trekkers 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.
WHEN TO GO AND DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
March to November though it can be hiked year round. This trek is rated as a moderate to challenging (intermediate to advanced) hike considering the high altitudes and length of walking. It is recommended that you acclimatize in Cusco for at least 3 days before trekking. Please note if weather is very poor and dangerous we may have to cancel the trip and can subsitute another day hike or day tour instead.
ON THE TRAIL
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 on the trail.
HELPING LOCAL PEOPLE
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. There are a variety of other ways in which to lend a helping hand to local communities (charity events, building schools, and much more). If interested please get in touch!