Cusco’s other rainbow mountain
less well-known than Vinicunca mountain
While the better known Vinicunca “rainbow
mountain” is visited daily by many hundreds of travelers on one- or two-day
excursions from Cusco, the similar geological feature known as the Palccoyo
rainbow range lies well off the beaten track.
Situated just 20 kilometers south of its more
famous rival attraction, this spectacular destination offers visitors the
chance to see and photograph a series of three mountains composed of
alternating layers of yellow, red, green, blue and white geological deposits,
with a view uninterrupted by the handful of other travelers usually seen there
on any given day.
The route to Palccoyo passes the village of
Checacupe, where a bridge has stood for hundreds of years, since the time of
the Incas. After a three-hour drive through typical high Andean scenery from
the city of Cusco, it is a short walk to the Palccoyo range, along a relatively
flat trail which contrasts with the steep ascent required on the approach to
The three rainbow
mountains at Palccoyo can be viewed from the place where the road ends in a
parking area for vehicles; however, for an even better view the short walk to
the mountain range is undemanding.
The best time to visit
Palccoyo is from April to November, because during the rainy season
precipitation at such altitudes can sometimes fall as snow, covering the
brightly colored mountain in a white mantle. Cloud cover and mist can also
shroud the peaks at this time of year.
Close to the Palccoyo
rainbow range, another unusual geological feature in the form of extravagantly
eroded rock formations offers visitors an additional highly photogenic
Palccoyo is situated at 4900 meters (16,000 feet) above sea
level. While the altitude should of course be respected, and visitors should
remain hydrated and walk at a pace they find comfortable, the flat trail to the
viewing point ought not to present problems for any traveler with an average
level of fitness (particularly those travelers who have already spent two or
three days in the Cusco region to acclimate), unlike the far more demanding
approach to the rainbow mountain at Vinicunca.
If you’d like to experience the destinations and activities mentioned in this article, contact us and we’ll help you create your Peru vacation!