Six Reasons You Need to Visit Rainbow Mountain, Peru.

If you’re heading to Peru at some point you’ll undoubtedly hear of the legendary Rainbow Mountain. This challenging 15km hike through stunning valleys leads you to a secret mountain only recently discovered by travellers. On route you’ll encounter indigenous locals only too happy to give you a lift on their horses, for a small fee. The terrain is moderate but the real challenge is the altitude. Slow and steady is the best way to conquer the trail. It’s one of our top treks in Peru – here’s five reasons why we loved it so much.

1. The Early Morning Drive (3.5hrs).

Getting picked up at 3am might not sound like much fun. However sitting back in the warm van seeing the sunrise break over the mountains is without a doubt one of the best ways to kick off the day. Everyone else will likely be fast asleep but resist the urge to snooze and you’ll be rewarded with views to remember. Just remember to bag a window seat.

Early Morning Drive to Rainbow Mountain

Sunrise on way to Rainbow Mountain

2. Coming Face To Face with Nature.

As we arrived at base camp one of the first things we encountered was a lama being coarsely butchered across a big flat rock. It was pretty confronting seeing everything splayed out so grimly, especially at that time of the morning. But that’s daily life for the indigenous people living off the mountain. In addition I’m pretty sure it was our lunch (local speciality – lomo saltado) that afternoon. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but about as real as it comes.

3. The Horses and their Riders.

The locals and their horses ferrying people up and down look bling in their colourful traditional dress. Creatively woven cloths (molas) provide a stunning moving backdrop to the walk up itself. Plus they wear some pretty bad ass hats (the men not the horses).

Horseman and his steed watching over Rainbow Mountain

Horseman and his steed watching over Rainbow Mountain

4. Herds of Alpacas.

These curious animals are in abundance on the way through the valley. Some will come and say hello looking for food, while others will run away. Whatever they are hilarious to watch and provide much entertainment during the day.

Lama on Rainbow Mountain

Alpaca on Rainbow Mountain

5. The Glacier Views

Hiking at 4000 meters means you’re given stunning vistas across the valley. To the east are the mighty Ausangate glacial mountains. Even as you’re gasping for air on the walk up, these sleeping giants cannot fail to impress.

Getting into Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain entrance with Glaciers in the Background

6. Rainbow Mountain.

After a challenging 15km hike deep into the Andean interior, you finally come face to face with the painted surface of Rainbow Mountain. Making a final push for the pinnacle takes all your remaining strength. Standing on top of the unique rock, stained with seven distinct colours from the mineral deposits, you realise why this trek is so special.

Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain

The incredible 360 degree vista cannot fail to take your breath away (literally). With the icy wind whipping up from below it’s time to capture some stunning pictures before heading down to warmer climes.

Jim and Liz Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain

It’s a good two hour hike back to base camp where a well deserved lunch is served. Afterwards you’ll be driven back to Cusco along constantly winding roads with steep cliff drop edges at every turn. Just don’t look down..


Duration: Full Day- 3am- 7pm

Distance: 15km/ 9.3miles

Elevation: 4300m (14,200ft) – 5035m (16,520ft)

Difficulty: moderate/difficult

Cost – Approx 90 soles ($27 USD)

What’s included – Transport, Guide, Breakfast, Lunch.

What’s not – snacks, water, horses, trekking poles.

Booking – We recommend Flamenco Tours on Plaza De Armas, Cusco.


Local Horseman relaxing on Rainbow Mountain

Local Horseman relaxing on way down from Rainbow Mountain

One thought on “Six Reasons You Need to Visit Rainbow Mountain, Peru.

Comments are closed.