The Rainbow Mountain of Cusco is a popular attraction. 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 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.
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.
Vinicunca being one of the popular attractions, 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.
Palccoyo being one of the lesser known sights it attracts about 80 to 100 visitors a day. 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. 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. A wet weather 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 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.