One of the top sites to visit on a day trip from Cusco is the Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain, a natural wonder that was discovered only back in 2015.
With the first guided tours were available here in January 2016, but now only two years later, about every single of the hundreds of travel agencies in Cusco offer one-day trip, and this natural wonder now sees more than 1000 tourists a day.
The famous site requires you to get up ridiculously early in the morning at 3/4 AM to undertake a 4hour car ride before hiking for 3hours on the very bad maintained trail.
But fear not, there’s an ALTERNATIVE Rainbow Mountain. That´s easier to visit too. That cost a bit more, but I will be able to sleep into 5 AM, and the hiking trail only takes around 20minitues, and it´s well maintained.
And best of all there are almost no other tourists there at all. Any backside? Yes, it will cost you 95 USD compared to the 30/40 USD that it will cost you to visit the touristy one, but I think it´s worth every extra dollar.
The day starts opp with an early 5 am pick up from your hostel/hotel in Cusco.
I fumbled into the pickup van, and I then slept for another hour and a half while the truck drives along highway 3S, before you suddenly take off the highway onto a gravel road that results in no more sleep and a rather bumpy road, half waken will you pass through some remote villages, stunning carved potato terraces, similar to the rice terraces found in Asia.
Just here, the human-made terraces along the cliffs are for potatoes and not rice like the ones in Asia.
It doesn’t take long before you see your first groups of Alpacas and Lamas on the way; you might even stop off for a bit with a few larger groups to take some photos of the cute animals.
While on the touristy Rainbow Mountain, you will have to hike from 4300m (14,108 ft) to 5200m (17.060ft) on the famously bad path, will you on the alternative hike, will the van stop at 4900m (16.076 ft) and only have to hike up for another 150m (492feet)or so, along a nice and easy path.
But already on the newly constructed parking lot will see evidence of the Rainbow Mountain being close by, actually next to where the van parks are the much smaller example of the Rainbow Mountain.
I’m very used to high altitude hikes, so for me, it only took 20minitues to cover the 150m (492ft) up altitude climb. The other people in my group used around 40miniutes.
So while I reached the top on my own, so could I enjoy complete solitude for 20miniutes with a fantastic view of the rainbow mountain before the rest of my group of 5 arrived.
On a completely clear day, would I have been able to enjoy the view of the Ausangate Glacier at 6375m (20,915 ft) from up here.
But Unfurtuently so wasn´t I that lucky, so I could only enjoy the view of the stunning Rainbow Mountain and a few groups of Alpacas wandering by nearby.
Why Is The Rainbow Mountain, so colour full?
The reason we see the different colours is largely due to weathering, mineralogy and different environmental conditions over millions and millions of years, formed layers. Of one another, creating the colourful patterns, the different colours are different minerals;
Green = Copper, Red = Iron, Yellow = Sulfur, and the brownish = sandstone.
Additional Information about the Rainbow Mountain.
What To Pack:
*A warm sweater.
*Sunblock and Sunglasses, the sun is really strong at 5000m+ altitude.
There´s a new clean outdoor toilet at the parking lot for 1 Soles.
10 Soles be sure to check with the travel agency if it´s included in the price or not.