One of the best things to do in Cusco is to visit Rainbow Mountain, a natural wonder that was only discovered back in 2015.
Rainbow Mountain has an elevation of 5200 meters above sea level, and is located approximately 100 km. southeast of the city of Cusco. Rainbow Mountain’s close proximity to Cusco makes it the perfect day trip. Its formation is one of the most magnificent geological features in the world. Located in the middle of the Peruvian Andes, the mountain is striped with colors ranging from turquoise to lavender to maroon and gold.
There are different reasons why the Vinicunca, or Rainbow Mountain, is striped with these various colors. Additionally, there are a few reasons scientific findings that rule out the rest:
The Rainbow Mountain gets its presence of stunning colors from weathering and mineralogy.
Here’s the whole story:
Peru’s Rainbow Mountain: The Formation
The overlapping of the Nazca plate and the South American plate was the start of the rise of the Rainbow Mountain. With this subduction, the mountain began building and uplifted the Andes mountain range. This produced significant volcanism and introduced rare and varied mineralogy to the Andes Mountains. Different layers of sedimentary rocks, such as sandstone, halite, gravel, clay and other minerals were compacted, one on top of the other, to form different layers.
As time passes, movement and collision of tectonic plates gave rise to new mountains and also new colors. This is because sediments change color when exposed to environmental conditions, like snow, wind and water.
Red coloration of sedimentary layers often indicates iron oxide rust as a trace mineral. Additionally, the bright yellow coloration could be due to iron sulfide as trace minerals within the pore cement. High altitude is another important factor. Due to the harsh environment of the area, there is almost no vegetation.
If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Cusco’s Rainbow Mountain, the dry season, between May and September, is our best recommendation to do the trek. Climbing Rainbow Mountain in the rain or snow can be a very dangerous experience.
Gulliver Expeditions Rainbow Mountain Day Trips
The trek is considered fairly difficult. If you’re considering a trip to Rainbow Mountain, we encourage you to train for high altitude. Fitness levels will need to be high, as altitude can change quickly. We recommend staying in Cusco for at least 2 days prior to the expedition in order to adapt, but if you are short of time you can do it in one full day.
Our Rainbow Mountain tour starts early, around 4 a.m.
After a 3-hour drive, you will arrive in Quesiuno, located at 4,320 km., where the trek will begin. Depending on your hiking experience the trek can take 3 or 4 hours to reach the outlook. Meanwhile, you’ll have the opportunity to see hundreds of roaming alpacas and truly see how Quechua people live.
For safety, we provide mules in cases of extreme exhaustion, so you can continue on with the hike without any risk.
Once you reach the outlook, you’ll have about an hour to explore the area of this unique natural wonder. After this, we’ll start our return along the same path to the starting point. This trek will take around 2-3 hours, where transportation will be waiting to begin the return trip to Cusco.
Quite possibly, the next day you can explore the city of Cusco or marvelous Machu Picchu.
Contact Gulliver Expeditions to Start Planning your Rainbow Mountain Tour Today
Excited to take off on this unique adventure?
Contact our travel experts to start planning your tour or day trip to
Peru’s Rainbow Mountain now.