Explore the essential highlights of Peru's Sacred Valley, including visits to Cusco and Machu Picchu. Then, journey through a land of wild desert landscapes, snow-capped peaks, and herds of alpacas to arrive at your ultimate destination: the rainbow-painted slopes of Mount Vinicunca hidden deep in the Andes.
It's a 3.5-hour drive from the city of Cusco to the trailhead leading up Vinicunca, known as the Rainbow Mountain. Also called the Montaña de los Siete Colors (Mountain of the Seven Colors), Vinicunca's colorful look is the result of ice melt over its surface a long time ago. The water mixed with minerals in the soil, and the combination of rust, iron sulfide, oxidized limonite, and chlorite led to the vivid purples, greens, reds, and yellows that color the mountain today.
Breakfast will be served at the trailhead, after which the four-hour uphill hike begins (not for beginners) from about 3,700 meters (12,139 feet) in elevation. Along the way, there are panoramic views of the Andes, glacial peaks, red mountains, and rocky hills that surround the trail. Upon arrival at the top of Rainbow Mountain, there will be ample time to appreciate the vistas and take photos. From here there are also views of Ausangate Glacier Peak. Ausangate is the tallest mountain in the Cusco region (just under 21,000 ft elevation) and is part of the Cordillera Vilcanota Range. After spending a while at the top of Rainbow Mountain, it will then be time to start the descent and return to Cusco.
Itineraries with Rainbow Mountain (Mount Vinicunca) Hike
From metropolitan cities and ancient Inca ruins to remote jungle lodges, this 16-day exploration of Peru's history and nature is perfect for the adventurous traveler. Start in Lima, Peru's capital city, then continue to the Amazon rainforest. Spend a few days deep in the Amazon exploring the jungle and seeing rare wildlife. Next, head to the imperial Inca capital of Cusco to explore narrow cobblestone streets and 15th-century archaeological sites. Then, embark on the Salkantay Trek to get some breathtaking views of the Sacred Valley. End your trek at Machu Picchu, and spend a day immersed in the beauty and history of its ancient ruins. Reward your hard work with two relaxing days exploring the villages and historical sights of the Sacred Valley. Finally, head back to Cusco and summit the colorful Rainbow Mountain.
This 12-day tour of Peru's highlights is perfect for adventurous and fit travelers. Begin in the imperial Incan city of Cusco, where you'll embark on a 3-day trek to Machu Picchu. Then, explore the Sacred Valley's ruins, markets, and villages before summiting Rainbow Mountain and getting your fill of culture and stellar views at Lake Titicaca.