1 Day Self-guided Trip to Rainbow Mountain in Peru 42 comments

There are some places in the world, that as long as you don’t see them with your own eyes, you can’t believe they’re real. The Rainbow Mountains in Peru, are for sure one of them. Are they photoshopped? – I couldn’t stop asking myself while I was watching the pictures of this incredible 7 Colors Mountains, so there was no other solution- I had to check it by my own and… I have to tell you that I wasn’t disappointed at all. They are truly magical!

Rainow Mountains

As most of the information about getting to Vinicunca – The Rainbow Mountain, that you can find in internet, are written by travel agencies which invite you (with pleasure of course) for a 1 to even 8 days trekking (all of them are a bit pricey in my opinion) and it’s not easy to get an information how to get there by your own, I decided to share my tips for 1 day self-guided trip. I don’t doubt that a few days adventure in the area of Asungate Mountain (the highest one here!) is a great experience, but what if you don’t have so much time? And what if you don’t want to pay 150$ for a one day trip? Then you’re in a right place!

Pojechana - The Real Gone

How to get to the start point of Rainbow Mountain trek?

The start point of Rainbow Mountain trek is located 3 hours drive from Cusco, so you will need your own car for that, rent a taxi (to save money try to find other travelers to split the cost) or you can try your luck in hitch-hiking (just remember, that in Peru mostly drivers expect that you will give them some money). To get to the start point you have to drive from Cusco South East by the road PE-3S, till the small village Checacupe (it’s about 100 km) where you should turn left and continue straight. The last bigger village you will pass is Pitumarca, then you will drive by the small road for around one hour (the last small village I’ve noticed on this way is Hancipacha).

Just before the final destination (around 3 hours from Cusco) you will have the feeling that you should turn right- don’t do it! Even the road on the right seems to be main, you have to continue straight till you get to the big valley with the parking for the Rainbow Mountain trekkers. The road ends a few hundred meters from here and at this end we’ve found a perfect place to camp (don’t forget warm clothes and good sleeping bag if decide to camp here cause nights are very cold). As I don’t wanna you get lost, I’m giving you GPS coordinates: 13°52′13.67″S 71°14′32.3″W and I’m highly recommending using Maps.me app for this trip.

on the road to Vinicunca

How the trek to Rainbow Mountain looks like?

It looks stunning! And now seriously: this trekking starts at around 4300 m and ends at 5020 m so if you didn’t acclimatizate for a high altitude it can be hard or even dangerous for your health. Please don’t head here straight from the sea side. After a few days in the mountains region trekking to Rainbow Mountain should be easy for you, as it’s not long: from 2 to 3 hours (2 if you’re in good shape and did some high mountains already), not steep and path is very easy to find. On your way you will see traditional shepherd’s houses, a lot of lamas and alpacas with their funny (a bit lost?) faces and all your effort will be rewarded by the magnificent view on the Asungate Glacier (6385 m) and colorful mountains around. There is also a solution for an extremely lazy ones: you can rent a horse which will take you to the top (you don’t need to know horse riding for that, horse is coming in a set with a horse-guide).

trekking to Raibow Mountain

What should I take for a 1 day trek to Rainbow Mountain?

Good trekking shoes, solar cream, sunglasses and lots of water are must. Dress comfortable, take some warm polar, winter cap (even if in Cusco is very warm), windproof jacket (as at 5000 m wind can be cold and strong), hiking poles and some snacks.

paragliding in Rainbow Mountains

How much does this trip cost?

Going to Rainbow Mountain by your own, you have to count costs of transport, food, water and 10 soles per person for an entrance to the National Park (don’t be surprised that you will be asked to buy a ticket not at the begin, but in the middle of the trek, anyway, tickets are beautiful!).

way to Vinicunca

When is the best time to visit Rainbow Mountain?

The best time for activities in Cusco region is from March to November, especially June-August when you can be sure about the blue sky. Just remember it’s winter in Peru then, so don’t expect tropical temperatures.


That’s all folks, enjoy and if you’re wondering what’re the paragliders doing at my pictures, check a Facebook Page of Mountain Wings.

Rainbow Mountains

Let’s keep in touch! Follow my adventures on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

About Aleksandra

I'm a Polish full time traveler, blogger, writer and life lover. I can’t live without people and sun, don’t like to eat by fork and knife, love sports and mountains all year around and hate winter in town. I have traveled to every continent except Antarctica, have visited 40 countries and lived in 4 (so far). I wrote a book about China published by National Geographic and my writing regularly appears in travel magazines. I’m really excited to share my adventures and experiences with you and inspire you to travel, to make your wildest dreams come true and to cross the borders- especially the ones of your comfort zone.

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42 thoughts on “1 Day Self-guided Trip to Rainbow Mountain in Peru

  • Jane

    Hello! My husband and I are heading to Peru in a few weeks and we would love to check out this hike.
    Did you end up driving there yourself or find an alternative way? I

    • Aleksandra Post author

      Hi Jane! We’re travelling by car so yes, we drove there. I highly recommend doing a road trip in South Amercia <3

  • Suzy

    Thanks Aleksandra, finally very useful information;) jusy one question: can you advise a hostel in Cusco as I am heading there In a few days,where are a lot of backpackers stay, so I have the most chance to pick up someone to go with?

  • Peter

    Just visited. I would recommend not to go. While tempting and stunning, it is also completely destroying the nature. This attraction has been opened for less than a year and already there is lots of erosion on the access paths. On some places 10-15 separate paths and more are being created every time it rains and there is mud on the existing ones. Nature in these altitudes takes years to regenerate.

  • Brian Moorhead

    Thanks Aleksandra

    My wife and I are going to do this trip in June next year. Although we are in our seventies we are experienced adventure travellers and have climbed/trekked in Peru twice before we were wondering about putting together a 2 day trip to RM.. Do any of the puebltios close to the mountain offer homestay? I do not want to bring a tent and am realistic about the “home stay”. (I have good slleping bags) I just do not want to rush in and out of such a magnificant Andean landscape in one day .


    Brian & Norah

  • Edwin Gonzales

    As an astral traveler, I know I could be there in a few blinks of the eye, but I’d rather stand still and know I am blessed with golden light of any path I walk on and charge myself with making the best decisions on putting that light in use.

  • Peter Smith

    This is a stunning experience, especially if you are looking for a 3+3 hours trek trip in the middle of the nature with a great final surprise. After surviving the bus ride, we started our hike. Due to the altitude, it was difficult to begin with, and as we continued to climb, especially up large rises, it was hard. If you are to tired you can easily rent an horse. Enjoy!

  • Bryan

    Thanks for this entry Aleksandra. I just want to ask how you got back to Cusco from this trip? Did you hire the taxi for an entire day?

    Happy and safe travels!

    Best Regards,
    Bryan, Philippines

  • Jessie

    Hi there, my wife and I are not experienced hikers. We do go to the gym daily and work out. We ride the stationary bike daily for ~20 min to warm up. We are avid walkers. As much as we want to see the mountains we are concerned if we can handle the high altitude hike. Our plan is to be in Cusco there days prior to the hike. I’m 63 and my wife is 47. Are

  • Carrie

    Hi! Contemplating fitting this into our trip to Peru at the end of April. We are in solid shape and live at 9,000 ft so we have that to our advantage, only issue is that we have only 1 day to get there, hike, and come back. Doable in a day? Also, any chance you know the mileage or km? Cant seem to find it anywhere on the web.

  • Joxie

    Looks great! Thank you for sharing. My husband and I are planning on this trek. Do you mind to share what the name of the trail is and how long it is?


  • Bri

    Hello Aleksandra!
    I’m planning on traveling here with my best friend, yet we only have a day to get there, hike, and return. What would you recommend, as far as a schedule and necessities, if we plan on traveling by ourselves?

  • Wesley

    cześć! Great stuff here! I am helping my family (4 parents in late 50s/ 4 “kids” in late 20s, 8 including myself) for our Machu Picchu trip. I am thinking putting a 2 day Rainbow mountain to spice the trip up this December. But I have been doing tons of research, and the tour packages are expensive in an abnormal proportion. What do you suggest? Thanks a lot!


  • Phoebe hung

    Do you think a guide is needed? I am thinking of taking a trip for $50USD per person, but looks like entering on my own is a lot cheaper!

    • Aleksandra Post author

      The only problem is to organize the transport, when you’re already there it’is really easy and you don’t need a guide.

  • Richard

    Thank-you so much Alexandra. I missed Rainbow Mountain last year when in Cusco because I couldn’t find anybody to give me reliable directions. I’ll be driving myself out to it next month now thanks to your great guide, when I return.

    Happy travelling 🙂


  • Julian

    Hi Aleksandra,

    really nice of you to share your information with us 🙂

    You drove there with a rentel car, right? How is the road up to the starting point?
    What kind of car was it? Rather a Pick-Up truck (maybe even a 4WD?) or a “normal” car?

    And do you know if it’s possible to camp close to the peak? I wanna be up there for sunset and sunrise 😀

    Thanks again for sharing your information!!

    best regards

    Julian & Jessica

  • Nik

    Landed this page while I was searching for paragliding in rainbow mountains. Beautifully written article. I saw a picture of a paraglider. I am a pilot and will visit rainbow mountains with my paraglider. Do you have any specific information about paragliding there?

  • John Marco Emmerson

    Great post Aleks, and beautiful pictures!! I also really enjoyed the rainbow mountain (even though I didnt go their on my own during a road trip but instead with a guide haha). I did not do the regular Vinicunca trek but an alternative tour to the rainbow mountains that starts at 5:00am and where you only hike around 45 minutes but see various rainbow mountains and the red valley as well 🙂 The tour was absolutely beautiful and I really recommend you doing it if you get a chance to come back to Cusco/Peru one day! I did the tour with exploorperu.com and one of their guides. Keep it up Aleks 🙂 Cheers

  • Alyssa

    HI Aleks,

    Thanks for the post, but just wondering about the actual trail. You said it the path is very easy to find. Where does the trailhead start? Is it near the parking lot? Is it well marked? I’ll be driving and using your GPS coordinates that you provided, but just want to make sure about the actual trail. Thanks!!!! 🙂

    • Aleksandra Post author

      Hi Alyssa!

      Yes, you will see the starting point of the trail from the parking lot. Don’t worry and have fun!

  • Emily

    Thank you for your information, it is so helpful! Quick question about the driver that you arranged, did they wait for you while you did the hike? How did you arrange a driver back to Cusco? Also, is the trail pretty self-explanatory and easy to follow?

    • Aleksandra Post author

      Hi Emily,
      I was driving my own car there but I saw many people coming with private drivers. And yes, Cusco is the place where you can arrange it. Don’t worry about the trail, it’s impossible to miss.

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  • James

    Awesome information, thank you! Any chance you’ve been to the Palccoyo (“alternative”) Rainbow Mountain? I hear Vinicunca is becoming overrun with people… there are trips to Palccoyo, but I’d rather drive there, as well. Thanks, again!