Arrival in Cusco
You’ll spend the night before your trek in the vibrant city of Cusco, since it’s an early start the following morning. It’s also good to have some time to acclimatise to the altitude, especially if you’ve come straight from Lima (in which case we’d usually recommend 2 nights before). You’ll stay in a cosy posada in the San Blas district, and in the afternoon your guide will meet you for a briefing on what to bring and expect during your trek. The rest of your day is free to explore the city and it’s many shops, restaurants and bars – but do try to get an early night…
Rainbow Mountain, and departure
You’ll be collected from your posada before daybreak (gulp!) and driven to the little mountain village of Cusipata, around 2 hours away. You’ll usually be with a small group, and will stop off at local restaurant a hearty breakfast before you start the trek. Cusipata is at an altitude of around 4,400m, and over the next 2 hours you’ll ascend to around 5,000m through green valleys and red mountains, passing the odd alpaca or vicuña (Andean camel) along the way. It’s a tough walk, but your guide will make sure to stop if anyone needs a little break.
You’ll be greeted at the top by panoramic views of the unique phenomenon which is Rainbow Mountain – layers of brightly coloured rock which create a surreal, otherworldly effect which will take away any breath you have left. You’ll have plenty of time to take it all in, and your guide will explain how these mountains were formed. When everyone is ready, you’ll begin the 2-hour descent back to Cusipata, where a tasty lunch will be prepared before your drive back to Cusco. You’ll arrive at your posada in the early evening, ready for a well-earned rest, before continuing your journey the next day.
About this trek
Treks to Rainbow Mountain are currently unregulated by the government, so there are many ‘cheap’ options available in Cusco. We work with a professional Peruvian operator who provide qualified guides with first-aid kits, safe transport, and quality equipment including oxygen in case of altitude sickness. They also make sure to take any litter back down the mountain with them, to protect this remote natural area.
Horses are available locally at the start of the trail, but this is not something we encourage or will book in advance, since we have reservations about whether the animal welfare here is of an acceptable standard.
A peek at your accommodation
Combine this trip with...
Where to next? This trip goes together perfectly with these: