Despite being a new tourist destination, thousands of people go to Vinicunca every day to experience its wide range of colors. But what many people don’t know is that there are several Rainbow Mountains in the south of Cusco, Palccoyo, is already rising in popularity. Vinicunca and Palccoyo deliver surprisingly similar views, but these are two attractions that have important differences that can make you prefer one more than the other.
About 3 hours south of the city of Cusco, bordering the Vilcanota mountain range, is a group of whimsical mountains of unique colors that never fail to attract the attention of travelers and tourists around the world. Here, ocher, red, white and blue emanate from the earth generating a spectacular effect.
Vinicunca was the first Rainbow Mountain to become a sought-after tourist attraction in Cusco, with thousands of tourists touring its colorful lands every day. Palccoyo, on the other hand, has become its most popular alternative in the last year, calling attention not only for its kinship to Vinicunca, but also because in reality it is about multiple rainbow mountains that coexist in the same mountain range.
One of the most notorious differences between both mountains is the physical requirement to reach them. While Vinicunca consists of a four-hour trek round trip with a considerable slope, to reach Palccoyo you only take 1.5 hours round trip for a relatively flat stretch. Both trips are made at 5 thousand meters high, so the risks of puna are high in anyone.
Vinicunca vs Palccoyo: Comparative Table
|Atitude:||4,900 m||5,020 m|
|Duration of the hike:||1h||3h|
|Length of the hike:||2km||5km|
|Departing time:||Between 5:00 and 5:20 am||Between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m.|
|Tourists:||Only a few||Crowded|
For those who has been to Vinicunca, they know that the trekking is done by numerous groups of travelers every day. The popularity of this mountain is so high, that a thousand people visit it daily, putting the integrity of the environment at risk. If you are going to do this trekking you must take into account that you will share the path with many others.
For some people this can take away a lot of experience, especially if what you are looking for is a particular connection with the environment, to experience the immensity of nature and how small we humans are. In this sense, Palccoyo offers a beautiful isolation that is difficult to obtain in Vinicunca. So if what you want is more silence and fewer people around you, lean towards Palccoyo.
If you are excited about the demanding stretches and are in good physical condition, then Vinicunca could be ideal for you, rewarding your effort with a privileged view of Ausangate, the fifth highest mountain in Peru with 6,372 meters. If you prefer a lighter walk, without demanding too much of your body, Palccoyo is the answer. Anyway, in Vinicunca you can hire horseback riding services that take you to the top of the mountain.