Vinicunca, widely known as Peru’s Rainbow Mountain (or the Seven-Colored Mountain), is where the geologic richness of the Andes Mountains is marvelously displayed in brilliant bands of colorful minerals along the hillsides.
Your eyes might not believe it, and being there can take your breath away in wonder. No wonder National Geographic has selected it as one of top 10 places for all tourists to visit.
Over 20 million years ago in the tertiary and quaternary eras, marine sediments and conglomerates began to be pulled up by tectonic movements into the rising Andes mountain chain.
Glaciers once covered the mountains, relentlessly scrapping away at the rock.
Eventually, a mix of red clays, sand, sandstone, quartzes, iron, magnesium, sulphur and many other elements in the ground made up the hues that today delight the eyes of visitors from around the world who come to hike or to enjoymountaineering sports at Ausangate Mountain (6,384 m.).
The Rainbow Mountain reaches 5,200 m. It is located about 145 km from Cusco. The air temperature can be cool to frigid, averaging 7 ti 12o C annually.
Hiking the mythical mountain
The hike is moderate, and proper preparation and acclimatization are highly recommended. The best season to visit Vinicunca is in the dry season, more or less from May to October.
At other times, sudden rains or snowstorms can present real challenges for hikers, who must prepare accordingly.
Good basic gear is always necessary for hiking in the Andes, in any season. That includes warm clothing, good sunglasses, sunblock, walking poles, rainproof jacket and good boots.
Going with experienced guides is always an advantage, both for safety and for the chance to meet and travel with local experts.
Tourism and Conservation
In past years, tourism has increased to the region and the numbers of visitors to Rainbow Mountain have also risen.
Many companies in Cusco offer one-day tours to Vinicunca, which some consider to be too fast and too commercialized. As the crowds grow, the impact that some companies have on the local environment many be questionable.
At Andean Lodges, we are committed to protecting the land at Rainbow Mountain, by keeping our groups small, by visiting there at less-crowded morning hours, and by working closely with the local communities to make sure their rights and needs are being respected.
We carry out trail clean-ups, and monitor local conditions to ensure ecotourism is practiced in clean, sustainable ways.
We invite you to join Andean Lodges to visit Vinicunca and Apu Ausangate, Cusco’s magnificent Sacred Mountain, to enjoy one of our expertly operated trekking programs.
Our 2 days/1-night Vinicunca: the Sacred Mountainprogram, with one night at our Huampococha Ecolodge, is the most direct and time-saving option.
Our longer Ausangate trekking programs, of up to 7-days/ 6- nights, also feature visits to the Rainbow Mountain and overnight stays at our four cozy ecolodges.
Andean Lodges also offers you acclimatization tours where you can hike at lower altitudes in the best ofCusco’s landscapes to prepare for your Ausangate Mountain trekking adventure.
All this is at your fingertips: visit our website to review our exclusive Ausangate trekking programs at: andeanlodges.com
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Operation team made up of community members trained as guides, kitchen staff, housekeeping, guardianship and maintenance.