Vinicunca is the name of one of the mountains close to the Apu Ausangate which is part of Vilcanota Range of the Andes. Due to the minerals present in the soil and the erosion patterns in the sedimentary rock, the mountain has taken on the colors of the rainbow. That is why the travelers who have climbed up it have dubbed this peak Rainbow Mountain, 7 Colored Mountain, the Mountain of the Many Colors, or the Red Mountain.
It has only recently received the focus of promotional tourist campaigns. Because it is is such a beautiful sight, Rainbow Mountain is now one of the most visited tourist destinations in Peru. Thousands of tourists from all over the globe have come to appreciate magical scenery and the impressive view of Ausangate that you will be able to see from the summit. Even the world famous magazine, National Geographic, has designated Rainbow Mtn. as one of the 100 sites that everyone should have on their bucket list.
Scientifically speaking, the Decentralized Office of Culture in Cusco has come up with the following explanation for the many colors that result from the mineral compostion of the rock:
- The rose color is due to the shade of the mud and the sand found in the area.
- The whitish color is due to the sandy quartz-like soil which is rich in calcium carbonate.
- The red color is due to the iron rich clays that were deposited here during ther Later Terciary Period.
- The green color ide is due to the compouds of the phyllites and clays that are rich in magniseum ferroxide.
- The earthy brown color is a product of fanglomerate composed rock with magnesium laid down during the Quatenary era.
- The mustard yellow is from sandstone that has a lot of sulfur in it.
The word, Vinicunca, comes from the Quechua word, Winicunca, which signifies hill with a narrow neck.
Rainbow Mountain is located at a latitude of S 13°52’8.518” and a longitude of W 71°18’12.765”. It is in the Vilcanota Range near Ausangate Mtn. It is in the district of Pitumarca, in the province of Canchis, in Cusco, Peru. Its elevation is approximately 5,200 masl.
Because Rainbow Mountain is located high in the Andes of Peru, the climate is cold. The average anual temperature is between 7 and 12 °C. From December through March it is subject to intense rain storms and cloud cover.
How to get to Rainbow Mountain?
In order to get to Rainbow Mtn., first you have to get to the city of Cusco. From there you would drive out on Route PE-3S which leads throught the southern highlands. When you arrive in the Checacupe district, you would take the fork in the road that leads to Pitumarca. Continue on to the community of Quesiuno which is where the road ends. From there you will hike 3 miles to the Vinicunca Pass where Rainbow Mountain will be waiting for you.
Because of the difficulty of the hike (you will reach an elevation of over 5000 masl), we recommend that you click on this link: tour to Rainbow Mountain. That way we can arrange your trip for you and make everything easier. If you prefer get there on your own, we advise you to take the inter-provincial bus that goes from Cusco to Sicuani. Get off in the district of Checacupe, and take a collectivo to the community of Quesiuno.
- Travel during the dry season months, which is from April through November.
- You should be healthy and in good physical condition.
- Bring along trekking equipment: a small backpack, a wide-brimmed hat, comfortable hiking shoes, warm clothes, sun screen, a walking stick, a rain poncho, water, and food.
- Before setting out on the trail first get used to the altitude in the Cusco area. That way you can avoid altitude sickness (soroche).
- Purchase your water and food in Cusco or Pitumarca. That is where the stores are.
Photos of Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca)
Come and let the Apus renew your positive energy. They are here waiting for you!