Rainbow Mountain Peru
If you’re looking to go on a day hike unlike any other, Rainbow Mountain is by far one of the most stunning hikes in Peru. This beautiful section of mountains in the Andes gets its name from the variety of colors caused by the minerals in the earth, which give it the appearance of a rainbow.
While the final view of Rainbow Mountain is the main reason for doing this hike, the stunning views along the way are arguably just as beautiful as the final destination. Auburn-colored mountain slopes line the trail and are accented by a turquoise and lime green coloring that hint at the view from the summit. Behind these mountains are others covered completely in snow, so pristine that they can sometimes be mistaken for clouds. If you don’t want to miss a moment of enjoying the view, renting a horse for the day allows you to sit back and absorb your surroundings without needing to focus on the trail and also leaves your hands free to take photos.
Before deciding to do this hike, there are a number of factors to take into account. The most important thing you should be aware of is the high altitude. The summit lies at 5,000 meters (16,500 feet) and requires at least 3 days in Cusco (3,400 meters/ 11,150 ft) prior to acclimate properly. Even the most seasoned hiker can have difficulty at this high elevation, so it is essential to be prepared. To help combat this we recommend taking ibuprofen at the beginning of the hike to allow the oxygen to circulate through your body faster. You can also buy some coca leaf candies and coca leaves to chew that can help with the altitude.
This hike requires a full day of your trip in Peru, which begins by us picking you up from your hotel at 3:00 am before driving 3-4 hours to the base of the trail. Here we will eat breakfast before beginning the hike around 7:30 am. There are a number of bathrooms stationed along the trail, but we recommend bringing toilet paper as this is not provided. After breakfast we will begin the 4.75 mile (7.5 km) hike there and we strongly encourage you to walk at your own pace. The majority of the trail is fairly flat, but there are a few places with steep inclines that will take you longer to ascend than you might be used to at home. The weather in the mountains is unpredictable and we recommend that you wear layers to prepare for heat, cold, rain or snow as all of these are likely options! Because of the close proximity to the sun we also recommend reapplying sunscreen multiple times throughout the day. Hiking boots are the best form of footwear for this hike, as the trail requires you to walk over loose terrain and rocks at times that sneakers would not do as well in. Even if you decide to rent a horse for the hike, there are certain sections that are unsafe for them to walk on with passengers and the guides will require you to walk part of the trail on foot. After spending some time at the top to take photos and enjoy the view, we’ll head back down the trail and then begin the drive back to Cusco, arriving anywhere from 6:00 pm-7:30 pm.
Our Rainbow Mountain package includes transportation to and from the trail head, the entrance fee, as well as breakfast, packed lunch, snacks and a bottle of water. We ask that you bring a daypack with you to carry these items as well as the boxed lunch that will be provided. If you would like to hire a horse to ride, please bring along extra soles to pay the horseman.
This link includes more information on our 1-Day Rainbow Mountain Peru Hike, and we hope you will enjoy this trek with us during your stay in Cusco!
By Ella Burnham