RAINBOW MOUNTAINS TREK
4 Days 3 Nights
The RAINBOW MOUNTAINS TREK takes you past snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes, glacial peaks, wildlife, and the colorful striated Vinicunca mountains!
The Nitty Gritty Trek Details
Off the beaten path, pristine wilderness, Vinicunca, Rainbow Mountains, turquoise lakes, glacial peaks, Ausangate Mountain
Glacial, snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes, multiple high passes, rocky terrain
3 day acclimatization and multi-day trekking experience recommended
4 Days/3 Nights
52 km/32.3 miles
3300m/10,827ft to 5050m/16,568ft
Moderate to strenuous, lengthy, high altitude
Quiet, remote, off the beaten track
When to Go
Best from March to November
Daily departures with 2 or more people
6-10 trekkers: $650, 3-5 trekkers: $690, 2 trekkers: $750 (per person)
Yes! Private, custom, add-ons all available.
DAY 01: CUSCO – TINKI VILLAGE – UPIS (CAMPING AT HOT SPRINGS)
Early transfer from your hotel in Cusco with 6:00 am departure. We drive for 4 hours on a new highway to Tinqui, passing Urcos Pass (4,000 m/13,123 ft) along the way. Tinqui is a village on the high plains “altiplano” east from Cusco and is where we will start our trek. We follow a wide, gently ascending path toward the northwest face of the impressive Ausangate mountain. Along the way we will have magnificent views of Ausangate (6300m/21,000ft). On this trail we pass a few traditional houses and may meet some local people dressed in their colorful, traditional clothing while accompanying their grazing animals which are indigenous to this area – llamas and alpacas. We will eat our lunch surrounded by stunning mountains and an excellent view of Ausangate Glacier. We then continue walking through fields and by scattered stone farm houses, for another 2 hours. We ascend gently to the Upis pass (4,435 m/14,107 ft) and camp at Upis Hot Springs (4,250 m/13,779 ft) where we will be surrounded by snow capped mountains (Ausangate and Maria Huamantilla).There are thermal hot springs at Upis where we can enjoy a soak at the end of the day. Happy hour at 4:00pm and dinner at 6:00pm. Walking distance approximately 16 km/9.9 miles (6 hour acclimatizing hike). Campsite elevation: 4100m/13,450ft
DAY 02: UPIS – ARAPA PASS – PUCACCOCHA
After an early breakfast we begin our second day of the hike. You will hike very close to the Ausangate glacier peak and will have incredible views of this mountain as well as beautiful lakes and waterfalls. We may see some llamas, alpacas and wild vicuñas (the undomesticated ancestor of the alpaca) and perhaps a rare condor soaring above. We will have a 3-hour uphill hike to reach the first pass (4800m/15,748ft) where you will have magnificent views of the surrounding area. After taking a few amazing pictures we continue hiking gradually downhill for another 1½ hours to our beautiful lunch spot. After lunch we hike for another 2½ hours to arrive at our campsite at Puca Ccocha (Red Lake). This campsite is one of the most beautiful campsites located at the skirt of the Ausangate peak and at the bank of the lake. Approximate walking distance: 12km/7.5 miles (7-8 hours). Campsite elevation: 4300m/14,100ft
DAY 03: PUCACCOCHA – PUCA PASS – CHILLCA VALLEY – ANANTAPATA
Wake up early with a hot cup of coca tea to start one of the most beautiful days of the trek, enjoying majestic views of some of the highest peaks in the Andes and depths of the beautiful valleys. This morning we will summit the Puca Pass. After an early breakfast we begin our 2-hour steep climb to the Puca Pass at (5050m/16,568ft). Along the way we have gorgeous views of turquoise lakes and the Ausangate glacier. Once you reach the summit of this mountain, you will be located right in front of the Ausangate Mountain and you can enjoy the views of Chillca Valley, with alpaca grazing along these hills. Also from this pass you will see the beginning of the Rainbow Mountain range with their strikingly striated colors. After taking some great pictures we continue gradually downhill for another 2 hours until we reach our lunch spot located in Chillca Valley with amazing views of green hills and snow-capped peaks. After enjoying your lunch and a little rest and relaxation, you will continue on to the Anantapata campsite at 4400m/14,435ft. To reach camp we will hike along a gentle trail for 2-hours with a short climb at the end. Along the way we may see some condors and vicuñas if we are lucky.
Approximate walking distance/time: 15 km/9.3 miles (about 6 hours). Campsite elevation: 4400m/14,435ft
DAY 04: ANANTAPATA – YANACCOCHA – RAINBOW MOUNTAINS – CHILLCA VILLAGE – CUSCO
After an early breakfast, we hike gradually uphill for 1½ hours until we reach the highest pass of the trek, the Warmisaya (previously known as Pitumarca) pass 4985m/16,3544ft. After enjoying the views at the top we descend for 20 minutes to Yanacocha lake. Then we continue for 1 hour to the famous RAINBOW MOUNTAINS (Vinicunca Mountains or Montañas de Colores) and the Red Mountain Valley located at 5050m/16,568ft elevation. Your guide will walk you to the best spots to get the perfect postcard pictures of these incredible mountains and the other surrounding peaks. Your guide will explain what makes these mountains so unique: they are composed of various minerals, which make different colors of stone striations. This is definitely one of the most stunning places in South America and one of the most beautiful natural attractions in Peru. There are Rainbow Mountains in only a few other locations in the world. After taking photos and enjoying the view, you will continue on your expedition downhill along the Chillca Valley for about 3 hours where we will enjoy an early lunch and meet our private transport. We will then drive back to Cusco – about a 4-hour drive that provides nice views of the Andes, passing some traditional villages along the way. Once in Cusco we will go to our hotel to freshen up and relax before our celebratory group dinner.
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
- Personal porter to carry your overnight gear up to 8kg/17.6lbs
- Drybag to carry your overnight gear so it won’t get wet or dusty
- 3 person, 4 season tents (2 people in large and comfortable Mountain Hardwear Expedition tent)
- Extra-thick foam mattress sleeping pad to put under your sleeping bag
- English speaking professional guide
- Full meals (3 meals per day, tea time every afternoon, snacks on the trail)
- Dietary needs: able to cater to any dietary preference/need
- First-aid kit including emergency oxygen tank
- Emergency horse (1-2 per group depending on group size)
- Chef and cooking equipment and kitchen tent
- Dining and cooking tents with tables and stools
- Horsemen and horses (to carry tents/food/cooking equipment)
- Hot water every morning/evening for hand washing purposes
- Boiled/purified water to fill water bottles every morning/afternoon
- Private transport back to your hotel in Cusco
NOT INCLUDED ON THE TRAIL
- Hotel before/after trek
- Dinner on the last day
- Sleeping bags and walking poles (poles must have intact rubber bottoms)
- Entrance to hot springs
- Souvenirs and items of a personal nature
- 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 TREKKERS
A minimum of 2 trekkers required for this trek. Maximum of 10 trekkers in a group.
- Price for 6-10 trekkers: 650 USD per person
- Price for 3-5 trekkers: 690 USD per person
- Price for 2 trekkers: 750 USD per person
Private treks, single trekker, custom treks, large groups, and packages welcome! Please email us to customize.
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 the dry season. (Dec to Feb/March or wet season: rainfall and snow can block the pass and cancel the trek though we can arrange the trek during the wet season). This trek is rated as a moderate to challenging (intermediate to advanced) hike considering the high altitudes and length of walking especially on the 2nd Day. It is recommended that you acclimatize in Cusco for at least 3 days before trekking.
WEATHER & WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR TREK
Weather on the trek 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 Mar/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 trek is very high altitude, therefore the weather can be quite cold and unpredictable. The nights on this trek are usually around 20F/-7C. 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 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 passes as well. As with any high-altitude trek 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.
What to bring: for your trek
Everything you need for the day should be kept in your daypack that you carry because all the items you leave with your porter will not be available to you until the evening at the campsite. 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.
- Sleeping bags and walking poles (poles must have intact rubber bottoms)
- Recommend a sleeping bag rated for 20F/-7C or below for this trek
- Sleeping bag liner (for your sleeping bag if you wish)
- Mattress pad – while we provide a mattress pad, being rested is essential for a great hiking experience and we find that sleep habits are very individualized. Therefore we recommend bringing your own pad that you know you are comfortable sleeping on, as well as any other sleep items you might want to have (camp pillow, etc).
- Sunscreen: the sun is very strong in Cusco
- Sun hat
- Lip balm
- Hiking shoes/boots with good, grippy tread
- Optional: microspikes in case of excessive snowfall (rare)
- Hiking pants (or shorts) and shirts (layers)
- Layers – long underwear and/or warm sleep pants for cold nights
- 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), 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)
- Swim suit, flip flops, towel for any hot springs you may visit (not every trek/trip has this) if you wish to go
- Torch/flashlight/headlamp (and batteries)
- Insect repellent if you visit Machu Picchu
- 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: 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 before dinner as horses do not walk alongside you. A recommended packing list is sent after you book the trip and can be found below under the “what to pack for your trek” tab. Your bag will be waiting for you at every campsite. We will provide you with a duffel bag for extra luggage to be carried by horses. Yes we do offer luggage storage and most hotels/hostels in Cusco also offer this service.
PAYMENT & PASSPORT INFO
Deposit: A 250 USD (changing to 400 USD starting 2020) deposit will be charged to your card when you book the trek. This allows us to purchase time sensitive items such as train tickets and entrance fees. This is non-refundable.
Payment of Balance: The balance of the trek 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.
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 only a deposit is charged. The trek deposit is required to secure your spot on a trek and is non-refundable. It is used to purchase non-refundable items such as train tickets, Machu Picchu entrance tickets, etc. The balance of the trek is due within 30 days of departure.
- 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/
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!
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)