If you wonder which one is better, that is a personal preference. Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain has beautiful views and the ultimate physical challenge, while Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain offers spectacular views and a challenging trail to climb. They are both located close to Cusco.
Very popular, big crowds highly likely.
Off the beaten path, not many visitors.
2-hour hike up
1-hour hike up
One rainbow mountain, Ausangate mountain in the distance, there is an option to trek Red Valley.
Three rainbow mountains and the chance to see locals working on the land.
It can get very cold.
Cold, but not freezing.
The Vinicunca route has a slight climb to it. Most of the slopes are not difficult to climb. Because this mountain is located so high up above sea level, it can make visitors feel short of breath. It is essential to be in the best physical condition possible when you begin your journey.
The Palccoyo route offers its challenges as well. The mountains will be demanding, and you must pack light and prepare for the weather.
Google Rainbow Mountain, and the first name that surfaces is Vinicunca or Winikunka or Montana de Colores. Located southeast of Cusco, the Vinicunca Rainbow mountain’s seven natural colors leave every visitor wondering how such a thing can exist naturally. The same can be attributed to mineralogical composition.
Rainbow Mountain Palccoyo was discovered when Vinicunca was already a thing. And, hence is often referred to as the alternative. Of course, there is no compromise with the view. Your eyes will enjoy an equally breathtaking treat at the Palccoyo, too.
Vinicunca has been tantalizing 1500 visitors every day for quite some time. Palccoyo offers the view of three rainbow mountains. If this wasn’t enough, you could also spot the locals working on their farms, llamas, and alpacas in the distance.
In addition to the Rainbow Mountain of Vinicunca, you can continue the hike from the top of the mountain to the red valley. On the contrary, a full-day tour to Palccoyo takes you through the bridge of Checacupe, which resembles Q’eswachaka.
The complete day trip to the colored mountains of Vinicunca will take you to an altitude of 5200 meters above sea level, while the Palccoyo will lead you to some 5000 m. The numbers are comparable. Both are at a high altitude.
In either case, you have to beware of altitude sickness. And, if you have any past medical history related to the same, Palccoyo is what we recommend.
If you are a pro, Vinicunca is for you, or else you will be so exhausted when you reach the top that you won’t be able to enjoy anything. The Palccoyo hike is relatively easy (45 minutes from the base).
As is predictable by now, Vinicunca demands a longer hike, somewhere between 3 to 4 hours (1.5-2 hour hike upwards). But then you can opt for a horse ride. However, that won’t cover all views. On the other hand, the Palccoyo is a 1-hour hike upwards.
Although Rainbow Mountain Tour is operated round the year, June, July, August, and September are the peak months in Cusco. Rains in Cusco come with snow, and you are not going on that tough hike to see the rainbow mountains covered in snow. There are better places to see snow. The walk can get so difficult during snow that you can’t hike at all.
Please do not risk it by planning to visit the Rainbow Mountains Vinicunca in the rainy season. You are surely going to repent later. The best time to visit is the dry season. While Palccoyo can be seen anytime between April and December, the ideal months to visit Vinicunca would be July and August.
It depends on your fitness level and how well you are acclimatized. Both Vinicunca and Palccoyo Rainbow Mountains are incredible sights around Cusco. They both offer breathtaking views and a heart-pumping physical challenge.
Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain in Peru offers a tranquil experience with a few trekkers. However, on Vinicunca, it gets a little crowded, and you are likely to meet plenty of other trekkers.
Let us know in the comments which one you would choose and why.
Here we show you the best tours to Rainbow Mountain and its alternatives.
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