Rainbow Mountain Peru Trek

The magical mountains of rainbow are located in Cusco, Peru high up in the Andes. The peak of rainbow mountains has an altitude of 17,060 ft / 5,200 m above sea level. The city of Cusco sits at an altitude of (11,152 ft / 3,399 m). The rainbow mountains are called Vinicunca, Winikunka, or Montaña de Siete Colores by Peruvians. If you’re asking yourself “is it worth going to Peru rainbow mountains?” the answer is YES.

Her Life Adventures Rainbow Mountain Peru Trek

Rainbows and mountains are both beautiful. And I’m obsessed with anything colorful/shiny/that sparkles. So when I heard you could hike to a RAINBOW MOUNTAINS in Peru (rainbows + mountains = Chelsea’s favorite things) I knew I had to go.

Rainbow Mountain Peru Trek

Visiting Peru’s Rainbow Colored Mountains

I was nervous for the ascent up the mountain- Instead of acclimating like most people I had been sick for a good majority of the trip from the altitude in Cusco (for whatever reason my body absolutely HATES altitude, and anything over 9,000 ft makes me nauseous and uncomfortable). This trek would be pushing my body to limits i’d never pushed it to before- and I worried these beautiful mountains could very well be the death of me.

Rainbow Mountain Peru Hiking Trail

How do I get to the rainbow mountains?

The morning of the hike starts EARLY, or late if you want to look at it that way- the van picked us up from our Airbnb in Cusco at 2:30 a.m. We all instantly regretted not bringing a pillow for the 3 hour ride ahead of us. Blankets were provided for us, so we attempted to sleep on each other and catch up on some zzz’s (we didn’t get to sleep till 10 p.m after the Machu Picchu trip ). The rough ride made that difficult, and nobody got much sleep. I’m pretty sure there are more speed bumps in Peru than the entire continent of South America…

Rainbow Mountain Village

We arrived at a village 15 minutes from the trailhead where we were fed a light breakfast by the locals. Breakfast consisted of breads, jams/butter, a plate of scrambled eggs, and some tea (it’s highly recommended you drink the coca tea- it will help with the altitude sickness). I was nauseous from the van ride and/or altitude so I skipped breakfast.

When we arrived at the trail head around 6:30 a.m. we were at 14,000 ft and it was cold! Layers on layers was key to this trek. There were locals selling wool gloves, hats, scarves, parkas and other souvenirs- a couple people from the group bought some hats and gloves. We still had 2000 ft in elevation to gain and it was already cold…

Rainbow Mountain Sherpas

You Can Ride Horses to Rainbow Mountains Peak

There were horses for rent that you could ride up the mountain for 60 soles (about $18 USD). SOLD. And that was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Half our group decided to rent horses, while the other half decided to brave the mountain on foot.

Rainbow Mountain Horses
Horseback Riding Rainbow Mountain Peru Trek

The horse came with a local guide who led the horse up the mountain for you- these guides were the real heros. They were wearing sandals on their feet- and made the trip up and down the mountain MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY, sometimes running past other hikers on the way down.

It was impressive and made me feel like a whimp on my horse- but then I’d try to take a deep breath, and considering I was having a hard time breathing just sitting there, I knew the horse was a wise decision.


Wildlife Along the Vinicunca Trail

Riding the horse up the mountain allowed me to relax, and enjoy all the incredible views along the way. These views included cuteness overload, with thousands of alpaca, llama, and farm animals.

Animals on Rainbow Mountain Hike

Reaching the Peak

The horses do not go up the last quarter mile of the hike- the mountain is too steep, and the air is too thin- so you know what that meant? It was up to us to make it through the hardest part of the hike. Since we had left at 2:30 in the morning- we were the first tour group to arrive to the mountain.

Hiking up to Rainbow Mountain

There was only 4 people in sight, and we had the opportunity to be some of the first people up the mountain that day. So I moved as fast as I could before the other tour groups started arriving to summit. The key was slow and steady, I would take 5 steps and be panting and out of breath.

Her Life Adventures Rainbow Mountain Peru Trek

Rainbow Mountain Peru Hiking Trail

Is hiking up Peru’s rainbow mountains difficult?

The photo above doesn’t make it look very daunting, does it? I remember being so frustrated I couldn’t breathe, my stomach was rolling with nausea, and I was in tears just 10 feet away from reaching the top. I didn’t think I was going to make it, I thought for sure I was going to die by asphyxiation right there on that mountain in Peru.

Hiking up to Rainbow Mountain

When I finally took my last step to the top- I collapsed to the ground, gasping for air, trying to catch my breath for a couple minutes. I felt like a fish out of water. Finally my breathing slowed- and as I lifted my head to look up at what I had just worked for- a smile of pure joy spread across my face, and I knew instantly it was all worth it.

Hiking up to Rainbow Mountain

**This hike is extremely difficult for all levels of fitness, due to the high altitude and low oxygen levels. Please consult with your physician if you have any questions. It is recommended that hikers do not spend more than 30 minutes at the peak (the air is too thin)**


Arriving at the Peak

Making it to the top of the peak was a huge accomplishment for me. I fought through physical and mental exhaustion not allowing myself to give up (believe me, I wanted to) Everyone cheers each other on at the top, those that’ve reached it, know that it’s those last few steps where people hit their wall and almost give up, and they NEED that encouragement.

Rainbow Mountain Peru Peak
Rainbow Mountain Peak View

We were offered the horses again on the way down. I was confident enough that I could make it down on my own, so I declined the assistance. The trip down as always- was easier than the trip up.

Rainbow Mountain Peru Trek
Rainbow Mountain Peru Llamas

Homemade Peruvian Lunch

When we got to the bottom we were served a homemade authentic Peruvian lunch, and I had no issues stuffing my face this time around. It was after all, Thanksgiving 🦃


My Peru Crew!

Rainbow Mountain Peru Trek

Helpful Hints for Visiting Rainbow Mountains

Our group of 6 did a tour package with Flashpacker Connect- they were awesome, and our guide Johnathon was extremely knowledgeable. Our package was for the 2 day inca trail hike, 1 day Machu Picchu, and 1 day in the rainbow mountains. They provided transportation to and from each expedition, an over night stay after the inca trail in the town aquas calientes, and a good majority of our meals.

**If you are concerned with the altitude, please consult with your doctor before your trek**

The mountain trek takes place above 4000 meters; the terrain is challenging, and weather is unpredictable ranging from hot and humid to rain and wind. Hikers should be in reasonable shape, and healthy. Ensure you have proper gear and be prepared for variable weather conditions throughout the day.

Rainbow Mountain Peru Hike

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94 thoughts on “Rainbow Mountain Peru Trek

  • It looks so unique here, definitely very high up on my bucket list. I can’t wait to travel again, I have wanted to go to Peru for a very long time!

  • I’d love to visit this place! I only recently learnt about it after seeing photos on Instagram, and now reading this post, it makes me want to go even more! Thanks for sharing.

  • These Rainbow Colored Mountains are truly unique! The landscape looks amazing and the local culture seems very interesting, too. This place is now officially added to my bucket list!

  • Wow, congrats on your hike, what an accomplishment! I’d love to get to Peru one day and will definitely come back to this if I work up the nerve to do such a challenging hike!

  • I’m so impressed you made it all the way up. That’s such an achievement. I don’t think I would be able to, even with a horse! I would panic for sure. How gorgeous are the llamas and alpacas, so cute. I really enjoyed you photos too.

    • Thanks Tania! I was very proud of myself that day 😂this was a 14 year bucket list item, making it that much better 🌈You could do it! It’s totally worth the views 😍

  • Totally impressive – not just the awesome views of the rainbow mountains but your stamina to do the hike! The Alpacas look interesting. The food look totally yummy and is well deserved after this tough hike. How was the weather? I would love to visit this place someday! 🙂

    • The weather was cold and windy due to the altitude! Especially at the top. We visited in November – and everywhere else we visited (Lima, Cusco, Aquas Calientes, Machu Picchu) were much warmer. Food was AMAZING!

  • For that price, I’d definitely rent a horse too! Man, the colors in those mountains are so mesmerizing. I’d love to see this in person. I wonder how well I would adjust to the altitude if I didn’t acclimate first. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a situation where I felt sick during my trip.

  • Your photos of the Rainbow mountains are absolutely beautiful and it looks from the photos as the trip of a lifetime however reading the story of your trek had me hyperventilating just thinking about what you were going through. Yes it is a dream to have experienced but I think I am a coward and would not want the anguish of feeling so ill while doing it. I guess the adrenaline kept you going.

    • hahah 😂 I’m sorry it made you anxious!! It was certainly the highest /hardest hike i’ve ever done. But the rainbow has been on my pinterest bucket list for over 10+ years, so it had to be done 🤗getting off the beaten path and challenging myself to things i’ve never done/thought I could do is one of my favorite parts of traveling 🙂

  • I think I would rent a horse too! You’re right about the photos making it look less daunting but I can imagine with the altitute it gets pretty rough. Well done for sticking with it though and making it to the top. I don’t think I’v ever seen rocks so colourful, do you know why they’re like that?

  • What an incredible excursion. So glad you made it to the top despite the altitude sickness – it is really debiliating. I wish I’d known about this excursion when we visited Cusco a few years ago.

    • Yes, altitude sickness is my arch nemesis. I was sick the whole week we spent in Bolivia due to it too. In Cusco I may have thrown up on the side of a church because of it 😂my body just completly rejects anything over 10k ft/3048 m

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