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 Rainbow Trek is a new route located in the high Andes and traverses the incredibly colorful Vinicunca or Rainbow Mountains. This beautiful multi-day hike is tucked away in a well-hidden section of the Vilcanota Mountain range. Surrounded by glacial mountains, this route treks in the shadow of the highest mountain in the Cusco Region, Ausangate (6300m/21,000ft). This is a true off the beaten path wilderness trek – above the tree line with incredible views of the Andes and glacial peaks.
The Rainbow Mountains or Vinicunca 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. Along your journey you will see turquoise lakes, glacial mountains, llamas, alpacas, chinchillas, and maybe even a wild vicuña. Come and be one of the first adventurers to make this trek with us. If you would like to do the Rainbow Trek with Machu Picchu you can go on our incredible 9D/8N Extended Ausangate Rainbow Trek Package or the 6D/5N Rainbow Trek & Machu Picchu Package.
It is essential to be properly acclimatized for this hike, spending at least two or three days in Cusco (or equivalent altitude) before starting. The campsites are at high elevations and therefore will be quite cold in the evenings. Minimum passengers necessary for trek departure: 2 people (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

Off the beaten path, pristine wilderness, Vinicunca, Rainbow Mountains, turquoise lakes, glacial peaks, Ausangate Mountain

Location/Terrain

Glacial, snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes, multiple high passes, rocky terrain

Acclimatization

3 day acclimatization and multi-day trekking experience recommended

Duration

4 Days/3 Nights

Distance

52 km/32.3 miles

Altitude

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

Adventure Rating

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

Solitude Rating

★★★★★
Quiet, remote, off the beaten track

When to Go

Best from March to November

Departures

Daily departures with 2 or more people

Prices USD

6-10 trekkers: $650, 3-5 trekkers: $690, 2 trekkers: $750 (per person)

Customizable

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.

Approximate walking distance: 16 km /9.95 miles (about 6 hours).
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 bus 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)
  • 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 washing purposes
  • Boiled water to fill water bottles every morning/afternoon
  • Private Transport back to hotel in Cusco
NOT INCLUDED ON THE TRAIL
  • Flights
  • Hotel before/after trek
  • Dinner on the last day
  • Sleeping bags and walking poles (poles must have intact rubber bottoms)
  • Entrance to hot springs (10 soles)
  • Souvenirs and items of a personal nature
  • Travel/medical insurance
  • 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.

WHEN TO GO AND DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

March to November. (Dec to Feb: rainfall and snow can block the pass and cancel the trek). 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

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 before dinner as horses do not walk alongside you. 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.

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!

WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR TREK

What to bring: for your trek: 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. At night it is quite cold in the mountains (usually near or below freezing) and most people will need long underwear and layers to sleep in, nice warm socks, gloves, and a hat. 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)
  • 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
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip balm
  • Hiking shoes/boots
  • Hiking pants 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, cooks, horsemen, guides, 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)
  • Swim suit, flip flops, towel for the hot springs in Aguas Calientes if you wish to go
  • Sandals
  • Torch/flashlight/headlamp (and batteries)
  • Insect repellent
  • Extra snacks if you wish (beyond snacks provided by us)
  • 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 to refill
  • 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.

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