Essential things to know before you climb Rainbow Mountain
Better known as Rainbow Mountain, Vinicunca is located around 3 ½ hours from the city of Cusco by tourist bus. Situated in the heart of the Peruvian Andes, Rainbow Mountain is famous for the alternating bands of sedimentary rock that give it such a unique, multi-colored beauty. This timeless geological feature has only recently become a travel destination, but it has quickly become known as one of the most popular places to visit in South America.
No matter what your age, it is easy to climb Cusco’s Rainbow Mountain at any time of year! Below, our own Peru travel experts offer their advice for Rainbow Mountain excursions from the city of Cusco:
First, be sure to choose a reliable local Cusco tour operator. The best travel companies in Cusco offer excursions to Rainbow Mountain that depart early, so you’ll be among the first people to arrive at the top, and have plenty of time to enjoy the incredible views from the summit.
Also, make sure you’re prepared for the high altitude. You will be active at more than 16,000 feet (around 5000 meters) above sea level as you enjoy the views from the summit. You should try to spend a few days in Cusco to give your body time to acclimate before you think about starting your Rainbow Mountain excursion.
Once you get off the bus and have enjoyed a nourishing hot breakfast at the base of the mountain, it will be time to start walking. Don’t be put off by the first fifteen minutes, as you climb a steep slope. Once you get beyond that first section, the trail is much less steep and you’ll find yourself walking more comfortably and enjoying the views.
Of course, any uphill walk at high altitude is strenuous. Just find a pace that suits you and keep walking. Don’t try to hurry and certainly don’t try to compete with local people who were born at high altitude. This is your Peru vacation, so take your time and enjoy the experience!
Finally, remember that you’re in the Andes mountains, and the weather can change quickly. As part of the packing list for your daypack, be sure to include sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of sunblock, but also take with you an impermeable jacket or rain poncho, and a warm jacket for the early morning and evening. Also, take along plenty of drinking water and some high energy snacks. And don’t forget to have some cash with you in local currency. Most Rainbow Mountain packages don’t include the small entrance fee to the mountain.