Our trip to The Rainbow Mountain was awesome, it was definitely more than we expected. We were a group of 14 people and we started very early in the morning. The guide picked us up at 3:00 am and most of the people were picked up from their hotels in Cusco. As for me, I was the last one to be picked up since I lived in the south part of the City.
Then, we headed to Pitumarca, a district of the Province of Canchis located in the southeast of Cusco (120 Km away from the City). We arrived in a rural community, called Huanchipacha, located in the middle of nowhere at about 4000 meters above sea level (13 100 ft.) while it was certainly cold it was tolerable, not a big difference compared to the weather in Cusco. However, once we started our hike up we noticed that the temperature was dropping.
It was here that we had breakfast. People were so kind and they offered us coffee, milk, chocolate and a very thick bread called Chuta, which is a traditional bread in Cusco. The guides, Lucia and Javier, gave us a small briefing regarding our hike and also gave us recommendations for fully enjoying our experience in the Rainbow Mountain.
It took us more than 3 hours to arrive at our point of departure from Cusco. We started our hike at about 7:30 am, the guides told us that we would hike 8 Km up and down, so 16 Km in total! It seems like a short trek but at 5000 meters (16 400 ft.) it might be quite difficult. On the other hand, the landscape was so beautiful, we were even able to see the Ausangate Peak, the highest mountain in Cusco (6380 meters above sea level = 20900 ft.).
In the beginning, we hiked up like 10 minutes until we reached a place called “the horseback point”, where indeed, there were lots of horses waiting to be hired. The cost of hiring a horse is 70 soles ($ 21.00) up and down. For us, it was like a test for our physical ability. I had no problem with the altitude but there were some people who did, so it’s a good idea to reach the Rainbow Mountain on a horse if you’re not confident of hiking the whole way.
To reach the Rainbow Mountain, it took me 2h30, however, many of my fellow hikers reached it in 3 hours. On average, according to the guides, it takes between 3-4 hours to get up the mountain and about 2 and a half hours to return. During our hike, we saw lots of Lamas and Alpacas that belonged to the people who live in this rural community. Then we arrived at an area, apparently private, where we had to buy our tickets. The cost is 10.00 Soles per person.
Then we continued our hike, it was the hardest part. In the beginning, we had to hike up a small hill for about 15 minutes, now the second one for about 40 min, it was actually very steep, so save energies for the second hill. Once we were done with the second one, it comes a last one hill for about 10 minutes, the last effort we had to make in order to see the first colorful mountains on both sides and just a narrow way that leads to the famous Rainbow Mountain.
As I said before, it took us about 3 hours to reach the Mountain. It was surprising to see a person (a guard I could say) that offers snacks and water for those who might be hungry after such a great hike. In front of the Rainbow Mountain there is a hill (that has no colors at all) that you can hike for having a better view not just from the Rainbow Mountain but also from the breathless Ausangate Peak, such a fascinating landscape hard to describe and that you have to see on your own!
We stayed about 30 minutes in the Rainbow Mountain at 5300 meters above Sea Level (17390 ft.), we had then a short explanation from the guides and we returned to our starting point after 2h30 of walking. During all this time the weather was cloudy and windy, above all at 5000 meters, so even if it might be sunny in the beginning, make sure to take with you warm clothes since the higher you get, the colder it is.
At the end of our hike down, we were surprised by some snow falling down, very small and short but nice for those that we hardly see the snow. We were transferred then to the Huanchipacha community for having lunch, they prepared us hot soup and a Peruvian dish called Lomo Saltado. Very tired but happy we returned to Cusco at 3:30 pm. The way back took about 3 hours, so the van left us downtown at 6:30 pm.
In general, we had good recommendations for visiting the Rainbow Mountain, however, I’d like to add some more:
- The best way to get to the Rainbow Mountain is by taking a group tour, you’ll travel in a comfortable mini-bus, an English-speaking tour guide will provide you accurate explanations and all support you might need during the tour (explanations, horses, first aid kit, and meals).
- Make sure to have been in Cusco a few days before in order to get used to the altitude (at least 3 days), otherwise, it might be very difficult for you.
- And finally, take with you warm clothes, hiking shoes, a raincoat, gloves, sunblock, sunglasses, snacks, and water.
If you follow these recommendations, we’re sure you will fully enjoy your experience as much as we did. Come and Visit the Rainbow Mountain! We kindly invite you to book your day trip here.