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Vinicunca: The Rainbow Mountain in Peru

Mountain of 7 Colors: The complete guide

The Vinicunca Mountain, better known as the Mountain of 7 Colors or simply (Rainbow Mountain), is one of the most popular attractions today; it is visited by thousands of tourists every day; moreover, it is the second most visited destination after Macchu Picchu.

Located more than 90 kilometers from the city of Cusco, on an altitude summit situated at 5,200 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l.)

It has a mountain formation, naturally dyed in various shades of a complex combination of minerals.

The mountain and the top of Vinicunca are dyed in various shades, including red, purple, green, yellow, pink, and other variations.

This tourist attraction was surrounded by the imposing Apu Ausangate not many years ago. Since 2015, this place has received thousands of visitors a day, and together with Machu Picchu, one of the most visited places in Peru.

Vinicunca rainbow mountain
Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain

Location of Vinicunca

The Mountain of the Seven Colors is located in the Vilcanota mountain range, on the border between the provinces of Canchis and Quispicanchis. More specifically, between the districts of Cusipata and Pitumarca. It is also located southeast of the city of Cusco, about 110 km away, and has an altitude of 5040 meters.

The altitude of Rainbow Mountain

Vinicunca is located at 5,200 meters above sea level, compared to Cusco, which is 3,399 meters above sea level. Machu Picchu is at 2,430 meters above sea level.

How to get to the 7 Colors Mountain?

If you can get to this place on your own, it is something that we do not recommend, unless you go with someone who knows the route or hire a taxi from Cusco with round trip service.

Routes to Rainbow Mountain

There are 2 easy access routes and 1 day to reach this mountain of 7 colors.

Route through Pitumarca

This was the original route via Chekacupe through the Pitumarca community. Average 3 hours to hike up and 2.5 hours to hike down. Hikers arriving in large buses will use this route because this road is the only one big enough to accommodate larger vehicles like buses.

Route through Cusipata

The newest route is through the community of Cusipata. The road is narrow, and a small wooden bridge can only accommodate small vehicles. The hike is about 1.5 hours. When this route opened, there was a feud between the wranglers in Cusipata and Pitumarca, who were competing for tourist dollars. The community of Pitumarca lost business for mule rentals from traffic being diverted to Cusipata. The two communities were competing for the economic benefits that come from tourism.

Tours to Rainbow Mountain:

We can arrange private 1 day or 2 day trips to Vinicunca (Rainbow) Mountain.

Difficulty

The walk lasts between 1 and 2 hours; it depends on the physical condition of the tourist, it is not dangerous, and it demands a moderate-high physical effort. There are sections of considerable ups and downs.

One of the biggest difficulties for the visitor is the height and the cold weather and icy winds. The altitude of the area can cause soroche. Prior acclimatization of 1 or 2 days in the city of Cusco is recommended.

Recommendations

Bring warm clothes to do the walk. If you are not in good physical condition for the trek to the Montaña de Siete Colores, it is recommended to rent a horse.

Do not forget to bring a cap or hat, sunscreen, a jacket, trekking pants, appropriate shoes for trekking, and a rain poncho.

When does it snow on the mountain of seven colors?

First of all, let’s talk about the weather in the mountains. In the region where the Mountain of the Seven Colors is located, only two well-defined seasons characterize these regions: the dry season and the rainy season. The first should be enjoyed to the fullest; during the dry season, the entire landscape manifests itself in a multicolored field, so you can safely see the Mountain of the Seven Colors as it is.

In the rainy season, the chances of seeing the mountain as it is in winter are much less. Also, it is not known if the colors and the mountain are visible or if they are covered in snow. Finally, there is the possibility of seeing the mountain partially covered with snow.

The rainbow mountain and the deglaciation

Geology experts rule out the possibility that the place where the mountain now stands was once a glacier, as some want to interpret the argument that it was deglaciation that exposed the mountain and its colorful bands. At the same time, locals note that about 70 years ago, the mountain was partially covered with snow. Even today, when the snow falls heavily during the rainy season, it covers the area again, but in winter, due to the lack of snow, the opposite happens, and the landscape is picturesque, colorful, and fantastic.

What colors make up the mountain of 7 Colors?

The soil of the mountain has seven colors according to the SGP (Geological Society of Peru) mineralogically present:

  • Pink or fuchsia A mixture of red clay, mud, and sand.
  • Whitish quartz and limestone sand.
  • Lilac or lavender A mixture of clay, calcium carbonate, and silicates.
  • Red clay and clay.
  • Green clays are rich in iron magnesium (a mixture of iron and magnesium and copper oxide).
  • Golden, yellow-brown sandstone and rust combined with sulfur.

How was the mountain of 7 colors formed?

The question of how the mountain arose takes us back millions of years. When the earth’s crust was forming, the different types of minerals, soil, and sand formed layer after layer, each with its weight. When the Nazca and South American tectonic plates collided, all the sediments broke apart, fell, and formed ridges, hills, and slopes, exposing the vertical layers. The passage of time, the winds, the rain, and all other atmospheric phenomena oxidized the minerals so that today it can be seen as is and is known by many as the Mountain of Seven Colors.

When was the Mountain of 7 Colors discovered?

Previously, only those who traveled the Ausangate route had the opportunity to see the Winicunca, as it is known locally and in the indigenous language, Quechua. They got there and took photos, and then the hikers started visiting it.

Not long ago, at the beginning of 2016, the mountain became very popular. So, thanks to social networks, it was shared hundreds and thousands of times, and tourism agencies began to promote it. The municipalities of Checacupe and Cusipata opened roads to facilitate access. Thus, despite the weather conditions and the altitude, more than a thousand visitors a day were able to arrive.

Frequent questions

Where is the mountain of 7 colors?
It is located just 100 km from the city of Cusco, in the province of Canchis, district of Pitumarca, very close to the snow-capped mountain of Ausangate.

What are the colors of Rainbow Mountain?
The colors are pink or fuchsia, whitish, purple or lavender, red, green, yellowish-brown, mustard or gold, and others to a lesser extent.

When was Rainbow Mountain discovered?
It was not discovered, but it became known and went viral in early 2015.

Who discovered Rainbow Mountain?
It is not attributed to a person, but thanks to social networks its existence was discovered.

When to visit Rainbow Mountain?
The best way to visit is with a travel agency; it is more comfortable, economical and safe. We have daily departures.

How many hours are from Cusco to the mountain of 7 colors?
By car it takes about 4 hours, then you will have to walk for about 1 hour.

How far does it take to walk to the mountain of 7 colors?
The walk lasts approximately 1 hour; depending on your pace, it can vary, and there are also two routes.

How much does it cost to go to Rainbow Mountain from Cusco?
Tours to Vinicunca are 300 soles (100 USD) to more or less, depending on the type of service and the travel agency.

How many meters high is the mountain of seven colors?
Vinicunca is located at 5,200 meters above sea level.

How many degrees is the mountain of seven colors?
In non-rainy season: Minimum: -10 Cº, Maximum: 11 Cº
In the rainy season: Minimum: 7 Cº, Maximum: 20 Cº – with rain and snow.

How to get to Rainbow Mountain from Cusco?
It can be reached by taking a vehicle from Cusco to Pitumarca. The trip lasts about 3 hours and a half and goes along the road that leads from Cusco to Puno (Arequipa).

Do you have doubts or questions about this destination?
Do not hesitate to contact us; at Huaynas Expeditions, we will be happy to help you and guide you in everything you need.

About the author

Travel agency for travelers looking for adventure, tradition, culture, good food and everything in PERU.

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