Winicunca Rainbow Mountain Trek

Winicunca Rainbow Mountain is located in the Vilcanota mountain range in the shadow of the imposing snow capped peak, Ausangate.

Whether you’re visiting in high season or low season, you’ll be sure to have company as Winicunca Rainbow Mountain has become one of the most popular sites in Cuzco.

The name Winicunca derives from the Quechua, wini rumi (black stones) and cunca (ridge).

Winicunca Rainbow Mountain: Day-Tripor2 Day Trek?

The imposing Winicunca Rainbow Mountain, is a rainbow manifest on earth. Located within the Vilcanota mountain range at 5,200 m, Winicunca comprises many spectacularly coloured peaks. This is due to a mineralization process which has occurred over millions of years. Until recently, the mountain remained hidden by snow, however, with consistent temperature increases, the snow has melted revealing the coloured brocade of the mountain’s veins.

The low temperatures here are due to the high altitude. There are stunning views of Apu Ausangate, one of the highest mountains in Peru. Apu is a Quechua word meaning: mountain and god. Apus are mountain spirits that are considered to be protector deities by Andean cultures.

There are two ways to visit Winicunca Rainbow Mountain: Full-Day Trek or 2 Day / 1 Night Trek

Full-Day Rainbow Mountain Trek

You can do it like most travellers, leaving Cuzco at 4am for the 2.5hr transfer to the village where we will stop for breakfast.

After breakfast, we continue to the trail head where we start our hike.

The hike takes between 1½ -2hrs each way. The trail climbs to an altitude of 5,200 m, which is challenging. Horses can be hired for 90 soles, each way. Please note that the final 300m stretch to the summit is the most complicated part of the trek. Due to the difficulty of the terrain, horses are not permitted on this final section of the trail.

Rest and enjoy the stunning views of Rainbow Mountain for 30min. Descend the way we came until we arrive at the trail head. Take our vehicle back to Cusipata where we will enjoy lunch. Afterwards, transfer to Cuzco for arrival around 5pm.

Rainbow Mountain Trek2D / 1N

A more unique way to visit Winicunca Rainbow Mountain is with a 2-day trek. This tour is designed for people who like adventure, nature and taking things easy.

Day 1

We will leave Cuzco at 7:30am heading to the South Valley, we will visit the town of Checacupe, which is famous for its colonial church and its three bridges from the Inca, Colonial and Republican periods. The most fascinating is the Inca bridge – a hand-woven suspended bridge built by the Incas to help facilitate imperial trade.

After visiting Checacupe we head to Pitumarca where we stop briefly to take in the scenery. We continue to Hanchi Pacha for lunch.

After lunch we will explore the town, meet the local artisans and admire their textiles.

In the afternoon, we continue to our campsite at K’airahuiri Alto. Overnight in your tent.

Day 2

Today we will wake up early and enjoy a traditional breakfast to start the day. Our destination today is Winicunca Rainbow Mountain, an uphill hike of approximately 2hrs. On the way through the Ausangate mountain region, with luck we will see local fauna such as chinchillas, alpacas and vicuñas.

This will be a real adventure through pristine nature. During the ascent, you will be amazed by vistas of stunningly colourful ranges and the breathtaking Mount Ausangat. Finally, we will reach our destination, majestic Winicunca Rainbow Mountain. Once at the summit, we will have about 30min to explore the area, take pictures and soak up the atmosphere.

We will hike downhill the way we came to Hanchi Pacha, about 1.5hrs. Following lunch, we will embark on the 3hr drive back to Cuzco. Approximate arrival time is 5pm.

Recommendations

Before going to Winicunca Rainbow Mountain, it is important to be acclimatized. We recommend spending at least 2 days in Cuzco, or the Sacred Valley, prior to embarking on this excursion. The city of Cuzco is located at about 3,399m / 11,151ft, so you will have time to acclimate.

Walk at your own pace, don’t rush, as you will be at 5200m / 17,060ft.

Coca leaves help with altitude sickness, in Cuzco you can buy coca candy or leaves. I recommend you to have a coca tea during breakfast.

At high altitude, digestion becomes slow, so it is always good to eat lightly until you are acclimatized.

The cold at this altitude is intense, and there is usually a lot of wind. Warm clothing is essential for your walk.

Coca leaves help with altitude sickness. In Cuzco you can buy coca candy or even the raw material, coca leaves. As the taste can be quite bitter if chewed raw, we recommend you to have a coca tea during breakfast. All hotels and restaurants offer this local infusion.

At high altitude, digestion is slower, therefore it is always beneficial to eat lightly until you are acclimatized.

The cold at this altitude can be intense and it is usually very windy. Warm clothing is essential for your walk.

Winicunca Rainbow Mountain Packing List

Trekking shoes/boots

Long-sleeved shirts

Trekking pants

Warm jacket/parka

Winter hat, sunglasses and gloves

Walking stick

Phone/Camera, extra batteries and sufficient available memory

In a small/medium backpack:

Passport

Change of clothes

Sunscreen, insect repellent, toilet paper

Water bottle

Personal medications (headache, anti-inflammatory drugs)

Extra money in local currency, Peruvian Soles

Rain poncho

Snacks (energy bars, fresh or dried fruit, nuts)

Coca leaves (or derivatives: candies, cookies, etc.)

Travel insurance

Binoculars

Did you know that Winicunca Rainbow Mountain is not the onlyone of its kind? 3hrs from Cuzco is Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain – an attraction worth exploring.