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6 things to expect when hiking the Rainbow Mountain

6 things to expect when hiking the Rainbow Mountain

6 November 2019

Why would a mountain be named after the rainbow? When it has such unique colors that lucky visitors are reminded of rainbows. Few places on our planet display such a wonderful combination of colors as does Mt. Vinicunca, popularly know as Rainbow Mountain, or as the Mountain of Seven Colors.

Vinicunca (the mountain’s name in Quechua) is a few hours southeast of Cusco, and not far from Cusco’s magnificent sacred mountain- Ausangate, in the largest snowcapped range in southern Peru’s Andes . }

A visit to this region is an extraordinary experience, filled with astonishing views of huge mountains, dazzling glaciers, waterfalls, mirror-like lakes and, of course, hundreds of Peru’s favorite animals- llamas and alpacas. Rainbow Mountain is one of the many geological wonders of the Route to Ausangate.

What can you expect on a hike to Rainbow Mountain?

First, a close connection to nature.

The Ausangate region offers superb trekking , climbing, photography, wildlife observation, and simply a chance to experience one the most gorgeous and pristine regions of the Andes.

Second, Rainbow Mountain is an amazing ancient geological formation.

It’s made up of wide bands of soil strata millions of years old, which cover an entire mountain with unique tones of color that are seldom seen in nature.

Hiking there, you reach about 16,000 ft., so you might expect a bit of cold, wind, and maybe some shortness of breath. But it’s all worth it! 

Third, your Vinicunca trip will depend on how you arrange it, and with whom.

It’s not recommended going there on your own- Peru is a big country, and going with good guides is essential. You could go with one of the many Cusco travel agencies that offer one-day trips.

But remember, that can seem like tourist express- a 3-hour ride there, a long hike with a big group, a quick look and then it’s time to head back to Cusco. Unless you’re in a rush and don’t mind crowds, that’s not very satisfying. And keep in mind the negative ecological and social impacts of mass tourism.

Fourth, a better way to live the Rainbow Mountain experience is with a top-notch outfitter like Andean Lodges. 

Which offers a much more complete and satisfying experience than a rushed day trip. As the most experienced and environmentally conscious adventure travel specialists in the Cusco region, we respect what Vinicunca represents to the local communities and to the world, and we pride ourselves in providing the very best options for visiting Rainbow Mountain.

Fifth, a question- how does Andean Lodges do it differently?

We don’t do one-day rushed trips to Rainbow Mountain. We specialize in state-of-the-art trekking experiences (small groups or private departures) that include overnight stays at one or more of our splendid eco-lodges, each located in an unspoiled setting far from any settlement.

At our lodges you are really in the midst of the Andes, with awe-inspiring views of huge mountains, beautiful lakes, and unbelievably star-filled skies at night. And you enjoy all the comforts you expect from fine lodges- comfortable double-occupancy rooms with private baths, hot showers, healthy meals and snacks prepared by our expert chefs, and cozy candlelit lounges with blazing fireplaces.

We also want you to know that our business ethic is entirely based on sustainable development and environmental practices. We work closely with the local communities, and our field staff are all local people. And we work in every way possible to conserve and maintain the ecological integrity of the area.

Andean Lodges’ shortest length trek along the Route to Ausangate, for those with less available time, is our 2 day/ 1 night Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountain program. On the first day, a trip from Cusco in private transportation takes you to the trailhead. A fairly easy hike takes you over Anta Pass (16,000 ft./ 4,900 m.) to Huampococha Lodge, next to the lake of the same name.

There, you’ll enjoy an excellent dinner and a good nights rest. The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, the hike to Vinicunca starts off early. Hiking through red sandstone formations, we reach Rainbow Mountain early, long before the crowds of day hikers arrive from Cusco.

We don’t rush it- you’ll have plenty of time to take in the breathtaking views and take photos of the colorful mountain. Then, a leisurely hike takes you to a picnic lunch, and back to our vehicle for the return to Cusco. It’s the perfect way to experience Rainbow Mountain in just two days!

A sixth point to make here.

The program described above is our fastest way to see Rainbow Mountain, but for adventurers who have more time available, most of Andean Lodges’ other trekking programs also visit Vinicunca. Our 3 day/ 2 night Pururaucas program, along some different trails, includes overnights at both Anantapata and Huampococha Lodges.

And we have five more outstanding trekking programs, most of which visit Rainbow Mountain. Our premier trekking program, The Trail of the Herders, is 7 days and 6 nights, with stays at all four of our eco-lodges. It is a complete immersion experience in the very best of the Andes Mountains- it’s the trip of a lifetime!

Indeed, Peru’s Rainbow Mountain must be experienced, and adding a few more days of trekking at Ausangate with Andean Lodges makes it a life-enriching encounter with wonderful nature and traditional Andean culture, enhanced by restful stays at some of the finest high-altitude mountain lodges in the world. Please contact us at andeanlodges.com to reserve your trip or to find out more!

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