We know that there are mountains and amazing hills all over the world, but whoever looks at the Ausangate viewpoints, will discover the thousand colors that this unique mountain shows. A geological gem that is becoming very famous, very fast. Because of the incomparable nature of its landscapes, we do not doubt that this incredible mountain will soon be known, as the mountain of the 7 colors will be one of the most desired hiking routes in the world; The Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) is located only 100 km from the city of Cusco and is the 4th highest mountain in Peru, it is nothing less than 6,372 meters high; Its exposed minerals (iron oxides, copper sulfates and others) are shown to form an almost surrealistic image.Climate change has discovered the multicolored beauty of these mountains located in the Vilcanota mountain range, in Cusco. The Vinicunca or Rainbow Mountain are behind the imposing Ausangate, which is part of the Vilcanota mountain range in Cusco. It is a valley irrigated by the Pitumarca River that is born, precisely, in the lower part of the Ausangate and that flows into the great Vilcanota River. The massifs of Vinicunca belong to the peasant community of Pampachiri, which borders the districts of Pitumarca and Cusipata, in the provinces of Canchis and Quispicanchi. Its name comes from two Quechua voices: "Vini", for the rounded and heavy black stones that abound in the area, which they called "vini rumi" (stone). The second is "Kunka" which means neck, because the narrowness of the hill resembles a neck step. Initially, the muleteers of the high plateau and the settlers knew it like "Qolla Ñan" or "path of the Qollas". We start from the city of Cusco and pass through the towns of Andahuaylillas, Quiquijana and Checacupe. This last town preserves an interesting Inca bridge and in its church there are pictures of the Cusco school, especially one of its highest representatives: Diego Quispe Tito. Unfortunately, the temple is not always open to the public. The Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca, is surely the most popular single-day trek in recent years. It is located south of the city of Cusco, near one of the most important mountains in the country (due to its large size) and also very special for local inhabitants due to its connection with the Andean religion or philosophy: the Ausangate mountain, which its 6 390 masl is the highest in the Cusco region. Since centuries ago the local people, made these walks to reach the highest points near this great snow in order to worship and bring offerings to the mountains and the Pachamama.Ausangate is considered the most important mountain of the Andean cosmovision; in this tour will fill you with history, customs and culture, while enjoying this scenic beauty up the Rainbow Mountain.
Full day: Cusco – Rainbow Mountain– Cusco
After three hours by car or sightseeing bus we arrive at Pitumarca, where the community of Qheshiuno is located, starting point of the walk. The ascent on foot lasts about an hour, until you reach a horse station where the drivers are always willing to help with the ascent. The horses take us up to a certain point in the climb. Then we have to climb on foot to reach the peak, at 5,200 meters above sea level, where there is a viewpoint. From there we can observe in all its splendor the mountains in a 360 degree view. They are the domains of the great Apu Ausangate. In addition to the Ausangate mountain, in this landscape complex we can also contemplate the Vinicunca or Rainbow Mountain, named for its resemblance to the colors of the rainbow.
Depending on the path of ascent, this hike has sections with a high degree of difficulty, so it is recommended to be in good shape. The locals usually offer their horses for rent, the prices is 80 soles approx. ( 25 US$), this will depend on the time you want to travel the road on horseback. On the other hand we remind you that you can find basic services, but very useful.The Walk to the Mountain of the Seven Colors has half difficulty. With a duration of 3 and a half hours at an average pace, this path requires an acceptable physical condition. The route includes slightly steep climbs and plains that rise progressively. The starting point is the area of Quesiuno at 4200 meters above the sea. The final point, the Vinicunca mountain rises to 5000 meters above sea level. During the journey there are areas of ascent and others of light downhill. There are no risk factors such as cliffs or crossing rivers, so this walk is very safe. Although there are no signposts, the trail is very clear and you will always find other travelers either outbound or back. If you require assistance or rest, do not hesitate to go out of the way to sit down for a moment and enjoy the landscape and the pure air of the Andes. The cold weather is moderate depending on the season, but we recommend that you wear a coat, since on the top of the Vinicunca mountain you can feel freezing winds.
At the request of the community of Pitumarca, the Cultural Landscape office of the Decentralized Directorate of Culture Cusco, developed a study to obtain technical information about these mountains and offer them to tourists. The report revealed that the colors of the mountains are due to the mineralogical composition that has:
All these colors are a marvel of nature product of geological formations. At the same time, it is a magical spiritual place, surely admired as a sacred place by the inhabitants of the area. We observed that part of the Vinicunca mountains had a line of snow on top. The inhabitants tell us that these great hills were snowed in past decades. This would explain why it is only now known about them. Global warming has discovered them.
The temperature in the Cusco region is extremely variable, during the day it reaches around 15 ° C, but it can be much colder, especially in the morning and night hours. But in times of rain it is less cold, known as "Summer height", the rise of the Vinicunca Mountains in the rainy season is impossible, in the period from April to November it is the recommended time. However, the weather can be very unpredictable at any time, as so many times in the regions of Cusco contain elements of climates that are always essential for mountainous geography, so a good combination of high mountain clothes.
Our expedition will start at 3:00 a.m. We will pick up all our passengers from their hotels in the city of Cusco. We will have two hours of travel in the private transport to Pitumarca, town where we will take our breakfast (included). At the end, we will continue to the town of Chilca, where we will begin our walk. We will have two to three hours of walking to the viewpoint of the Rainbow Mountain (the difference of time depends on the physical and climatological condition). On the way, you will enjoy the flora and fauna typical of the Andean area. We will also have the opportunity to see lamas and domestic alpacas. When we reach the Rainbow mountain, we will have an appropriate time to enjoy the view, take the best possible photos and eat snacks. After all this, we will start the descent to Chilca, where we will have our lunch (two hours). At the end, we will embark our car, which will bring us back to the city of Cusco.
The one-way leg from the camp in Quesiuno to the place is about 4 hours, with ascent parts, while the return takes almost 2 hours. One of the best advice is that you perform a simulation in your region of origin; find an area of rural or mountainous type, bring clothes, backpack and hiking boots (the same ones that will bring to Cusco) and walk for said periods of time about 2 or 3 times in different days. You can take breaks to rest. Keep in mind that the 1 day Rainbow Mountain tour reaches heights of 5,000 meters above sea level. The amount of oxygen in the air will be quite less than usual. Therefore, it is necessary that you are in an adequate physical and mental condition, because you will have to make some effort to overcome the mountain range. If it is the case, reduce or eliminate the consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, stimulants, very greasy food. Prefer healthier proteins such as fish, legumes, etc. In general it must be with very good nutrition and also an optimistic mental state, patient and able to overcome challenges.