The Rainbow Mountain of the 7 colors in Cusco is a popular tourist attraction in South America. The full day tour is a popular day trip from Cusco. It is only second to the iconic citadel of Inca, Machu Picchu.
Every year millions of tourist flock to this newly discovered geological wonder located up in the Andes in Cusco. The melting snows unveiled the hidden colours of Vinicunca in 2015.
However, the alternate Rainbow Mountain, Palccoyo is located in the South of Cusco. It is a new wonder. The myth behind the colours are a unique mineralogy which created the famous marbling effect of layered hues of red, gold, purple and turquoise.
Vinicunca vs Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain? We have outlined the differences of both to help you determine which trek is ideal for you.
Treks to Vinicunca leave from Cusco at 0430 AM in the morning. The hike is somewhat challenging and long. It is located at 5200 metres above sea level. Although if you find this tiring, you can always rent a horse from the base to reach to the summit.
Treks to Palccoyo leave at 0700 AM. You will be driven to 4900 metres above the sea level. From there, it is a 45 minutes subtle incline through mostly flat terrain to the summit at 5000 metres.
It is highly recommended to spend atleast three days in Cusco before the trek to avoid altitude sickness.
Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain tour being one of the popular tours, it attracts a vast number of trekkers daily. There are about 400 trekkers who climb to the summit during the low season. During high season, it doubles to almost 800 trekkers a day. There are also private tours.
Palccoyo being one of the lesser known sights it attracts about 80 to 100 visitors a day. Often the tour is operated in small group. This gives you a chance to experience the tranquility amidst the nature.
The route up to the summit offers sights of Andean camelids, Alpacas and Llamas. You will also get a stunning view of red and green valley upon reaching the summit of Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain in Peru. Also, you will be able get a closer view at the might peak of “Apu” Ausangate.
As a bonus, you can hike further for 30 minutes to the impressive red valley.
Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain trek will take you to an ancient Andean village, Checacupe. It is a beautiful colonial village. The village houses a rope bridge similar to Q’eswachaka Bridge. This was built during the Spanish rule. The trek to the summit goes through Stone Forest (Bosque de piedras).
You will also get to see many Alpacas, Llamas and Vicuñas grazing. This trek also offers a pristine view of the snowcapped peak of Ausangate Mountain.
It depend on your fitness level and how well you are acclimatised. Both Vinicunca and Palccoyo Rainbow Mountains are incredible sights around Cusco. They both offer breathtaking views and heart pumping physical challenge.
In both rainbow mountains, it is better to find out the weather before booking. Rainy Season may cause the mountains grey, wet and dull. Cold weather makes the mountains covered with snow. It is ideal to visit both Rainbow mountains during the dry season which is between April and October.
Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain in Peru offers a quiet and tranquil experience with a few trekkers. However, on Vinicunca it gets a little crowded and you are likely to meet plenty of other trekkers.
I did both, Vinicunca and Red Valley two years ago, Palccoyo last year. Both tours were impressive but I enjoyed Palccoyo a bit more.
The hike is less tiring, there were only a few tourists, so I had time to take many photos with no people on them and the landscape is amazing.
The big plus at Vinicunca is the Red Valley, which only few people did. The Red Valley is amazing.
If you have enough time, do both Rainbow Mountains, you will not regret it 🙂