The Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain Hike is one of the most popular routes in southern Peru, and for good reason. This short hike will take you from Ausangate to Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca, one of the most stunning natural wonders in the world.
The starting point for this adventure is the community of Pacchanta, a place full of culture and Andean experiences of Peru. Here you can meet local people and learn about their customs and traditions. During the journey, you will be amazed by the most impressive natural landscapes of Ausangate, surrounded by mountain flora and fauna. Along the way, you can enjoy spectacular views of the snowy peaks of Ausangate, one of the most sacred and mystical places in the Andes. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to see crystal clear lagoons, waterfalls, and glaciers in all their splendor.
Once you reach Rainbow Mountain, you will be amazed by the beauty and vibrant colors of this wonderful natural formation. Rainbow Mountain is a sandstone peak that has formed over millions of years, creating a beautiful variety of colors ranging from red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. It is a magical place where you can feel the energy of nature and connect with the universe.
The Ausangate Trek to Rainbow Mountain itinerary is a 3-day trek that takes you through the stunning Andean landscapes of Peru. On the first day, you will drive to Pacchanta, have breakfast, and explore the Pacchanta community before starting the hike towards the Upis campsite. On day two, you will hike to the Apacheta Pass, admire the Pucacocha Lakes, and descend to the Ananta camp. Finally, on day three, you will start early to reach Rainbow Mountain, descend, and return to Cusco for lunch.
To kick off the exciting trek to Rainbow Mountain, we'll pick up participants from their hotels at 4:30 a.m. and head south of the city of Cusco in a private vehicle. During this 3.5-hour journey, we'll traverse picturesque and colorful small villages, ultimately reaching the community of Pacchanta, nestled at the base of the majestic Ausangate snow-capped peak.
Upon arrival in Pacchanta, we'll enjoy a delightful breakfast with our team, who will accompany us in the days ahead. Here, we'll learn about the community's textile artistry, including alpaca fiber dyeing, and don their traditional attire. Additionally, our talented chefs will treat our taste buds to a lunch feast.
Post-lunch, we'll embark on a 3-hour hike to the Upis campsite, situated at 4438 meters above sea level, offering breathtaking views of Mount Ausangate. Later, unwind in the rejuvenating Upis hot springs and savor a dinner prepared by our experienced chef at 6:30 p.m.
Distance: 6 km
Walking Time: 3 hours on foot
Route Difficulty: Moderate
Maximum Altitude: 4550 meters above sea level
Accommodation: Tent camping
Campsite: Upis 4438 meters above sea level
Today marks the most challenging day of the exhilarating Rainbow Mountain trek as you tackle a journey of over 15.2 kilometers, conquering two high-altitude points: Paso Arapa at 4738 meters above sea level and Mirador Apacheta at 4917 meters above sea level.
The day begins early, awakening at 5:00 a.m. with a comforting coca tea in your tent, followed by an energizing breakfast at 5:30 a.m. Begin your uphill ascent to Paso Arapa, an area with sparse vegetation but awe-inspiring views of Ausangate. From this point, descend to the beautiful Laguna Pucacocha, a valley populated by alpacas and wild birds. After exploring the Pucacocha valley, face the most challenging and rewarding ascent to Paso Apacheta, at 4917 meters above sea level, where you'll be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views.
Subsequently, descend to the Ananta Camp at 4700 meters above sea level for a well-deserved lunch. The afternoon provides free time to immerse yourself in the local life and culture, exploring this valley inhabited by alpaca breeders—a chance to experience and learn about the wonders and cultural richness of this fascinating environment.
Distance: 15.2 km
Walking Time: 7 hours on foot
Route Difficulty: Moderate
Maximum Altitude: 4917 meters above sea level
Accommodation: Tent camping
Campsite: Ananta 4700 meters above sea level
Today marks the final day of the unforgettable Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain trek. Although it's the conclusion, it's also a highly anticipated day as you explore one of the most popular and tourist-frequented destinations in recent years: "Rainbow Mountain and the Red Valley."
To ensure you're among the first to reach Rainbow Mountain, we'll start the day with breakfast at 5:00 a.m., followed by an ascent to Paso Warmisaya (4,960 m). From this vantage point, the majesty of Rainbow Mountain or the Seven Colored Mountain unfolds on the horizon.
The goal is to arrive at Rainbow Mountain before 8 a.m., avoiding the crowds from commercial tours arriving from Cusco. Once at the viewpoint, you'll have the opportunity to capture exceptional photos without the overwhelming presence of visitors. After 9:00 a.m., this location tends to get crowded, with over 3,000 tourists visiting daily. At this point, you'll head towards the impressive Red Valley, another fantastic site to explore.
After appreciating the natural beauty, you'll begin the descent to the community of Chillihuani, where your private transportation will be waiting to take you back to the city of Cusco. Before embarking on the 3.5-hour journey to Cusco, enjoy your last meal and bid farewell to the adventure team, including muleteers and the chef, who have contributed to making this experience an unforgettable adventure.
Distance: 9.1 km
Walking Time: 4 hours on foot
Route Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
Maximum Altitude: 5034 meters above sea level
Arrival in Cusco: Approximately at 4:00 p.m.
Additional services that you can hire:
Travel recommendations for the Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain hike:
These recommendations will help you fully enjoy this impressive adventure in the Peruvian Andes.
Reservations are made in advance with a 30% payment of the total cost. The remaining balance is paid in cash in Cusco during the informational briefing.
Travel packages and programs include transaction fees for the 30% reservation payments.
Tour rescheduling is allowed with proper notice, except for Machu Picchu tours. Passenger no-shows will result in the total loss of the service. Cancellation or withdrawal from the service will not be eligible for a refund.
The best time to do the Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain trek is during the dry season, which runs from April to November. During these months, the weather is more stable and dry, making conditions safer and more pleasant for hiking.
The Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain trek is considered to be of high difficulty. The trek involves ascending and descending several mountain passes and walking at high altitudes. Therefore, it is recommended that hikers be in good physical shape and have prior experience with high-altitude trekking.
To do the Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain trek, it is important to bring appropriate clothing for the cold high-altitude climate. Hiking boots, warm clothing, a hat, gloves, sunscreen, sunglasses, a comfortable and sturdy backpack are recommended.
During the trek, hikers camp in base camps near the lakes and glaciers of Ausangate. The camps are equipped with tents and thermal sleeping mats, and cooking equipment is also provided to prepare meals.
While prior experience with high-altitude trekking is not necessary, it is recommended that hikers be in good physical shape and have experience with multi-day trekking. It is also recommended to acclimate well before starting the trek to allow the body to adapt to the altitude.
Safety is a major concern for any mountain adventure, and the Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain trek is no exception. Fortunately, this trek is considered safe as long as necessary precautions are taken. It is important to follow the instructions of your tour guide and ensure that they are properly trained and certified. It is also important to bring appropriate equipment and be prepared for changing weather conditions. Additionally, it is recommended to acclimate well before starting the trek as altitude can affect your health if you are not used to it.
Yes, it is highly recommended to hire a guide to do the Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain trek. Guides are familiar with the area, the routes, and weather conditions, and can provide a safer and more enjoyable experience for hikers.
The starting point of the trek is about a three-hour drive from the city of Cusco in Peru. Transport services can be hired to reach the starting point, or a car can be rented to get there independently.
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