Rainbow Mountain Peru: Complete Visitor’s Guide

rainbow mountain 1 day

Rainbow Mountain, known locally as Vinicunca, is a spectacular multi-colored mountain in the Andes near Cusco. Learn everything you need to know about this incredible mountain.

History Rainbow Mountain

The story of how the colored mountain was discovered is not too old. Snow used to cover the colorful lines of Vinicunca, however, due to climate change, the snow covering the hills slowly melted away. Locals say the mountain was discovered in 2013, and since then, thousands of visitors looking to take peek at the multicolored mountain make the difficult trek to see the site

Vinicunca Overview

Turquoise, scarlet, and mustard-colored sediments drape down Rainbow Mountain, or Vinicunca, and give the mountain its striking appearance. These different layers of color represent distinct mineral contents and were formed over the course of millions of years before being exposed by the tectonic movements and intense wind erosion of the high Andes. The mountain was once covered by a glacier which has since melted due to the effects of global warming. It then became a popular side excursion on the Ausangate Trek before shorter 1- and 2-day tour routes were developed in recent years.

At 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) above sea level, Rainbow Mountain’s altitude is more than half that of Mount Everest. Those who wish to see this beautiful site for themselves must be prepared for a difficult 3-hour hike at high altitude. Weather conditions can also complicate the journey, with both blistering cold temperatures and intense UV rays due to the elevation. But while getting there might be a little tough, the extraordinary view once you reach the top will make it all worth it.


Elevation: 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) above sea level.
Duration: 3-4 hours, depending on pace.
Distance: 7 km.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult, depending on level of physical fitness.

How to Get There

All tours to Rainbow Mountain leave from the city of Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire and the closest major city to Machu Picchu and many of Peru’s most famous attractions. After departing from Cusco your tour will take you on a 2-hour drive south of the city to the town of Pitumarca. Not far from here is where you’ll find the Rainbow Mountain trailhead to start your hike.