You want to see the stunning colors from the rainbow mountain, but the long hike up Vinicunca scares you? There is a little-known but great alternative. If the hike up Vinicunca is challenging as it is going up a lot, is long, and the altitude can cause problems to some people, the way from Palccoyo is easier, shorter and mostly flat. Moreover, as Palccoyo is a new route, you will also most likely be alone with your group or with a few other groups. Your pictures will then be better, and you will also see three rainbow mountains instead of just one with the classic tour to Vinicunca. This tour is a must-do in the area.
Daily Departures: Between 5:00 and 5:20 a.m.
Duration: One day
Return to Cusco: Between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m.
Maximum Altitude: 5,200 meters (17,060 ft)
Walking distance: 2 km
Walking Hours: 1:30 to 2:00h
Peak Season: April to December
Our tour will start with an early pick-up from your accommodation in Cusco between 5:00 and 5:20 am. We will drive for 3 hours passing through many colorful colonial towns before reaching Pitumarca district where we will have breakfast.
After breakfast, we will drive for 1 hour and a half more along the Salcca Valley. On the way, you will enjoy a nice view over the mountains as we follow a small river to get to the starting point of the hike (4850m/15912ft).
We will then start our hike and walk for 45 minutes to 1 hour (1km) to our viewpoint (5,000m/16,404ft.). From there, we will have the most unique views of Ausangate (highest snow-capped mountain of Cusco 6375m/20915ft) and of the three rainbow mountains. As this is an alternative route to the well-known Vinicunca, you will be able to enjoy the views without crowds of tourists, to take magnificent photos and to remember forever the stunning views. After taking our pictures and appreciating the view, we will make our way back to our bus, have lunch and head back to Cusco. You will be dropped off in the center around 6:30 pm.
US$50 per person
- Pick-up from your accommodation and drop-off near the main square
- Round trip transportation between Cusco and the starting point of the hike in Palccoyo
- English/Spanish-speaking professional guide
- Breakfast and lunch
- Entrance fees to Rainbow Mountain
- Vegetarian food available on request with no extra charge
- First aid equipment
- Tips for the guide and driver
What to Bring:
- Hiking boots
- Small daypack or backpack (approximately 20L)
- Comfortable, lightweight trekking clothes or activewear (layers recommended)
- Waterproof, sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support and traction
- Waterproof jacket or rain poncho
- Warm coat
- Hat and gloves
- Hand sanitizer
- Sun hat or cap
- Insect repellent
- Water (at least 1L)
- Personal medications
- Muscle relaxers
- Painkillers or anti-inflammatories
- Bandaids (especially those designed for blisters)
- Toilet paper
- Cash (in small denominations of Peruvian Nuevos soles)
Where is Palccoyo located?
It is located 3.5 hours by car from Cusco.
What is the difference between Palccoyo and Vinicunca and why should I choose Palccoyo?
The hike up Vinicunca is challenging as it is going up a lot, the hike is long, and the altitude can cause problems to some people. The way to see the rainbow mountains in Palccoyo is easier as it is shorter and mostly flat. It is probably more appropriate if you suffer from altitude sickness or if you are not able to hike up for a long time. As Palccoyo is a new route, you will also most likely be alone with your group or with a few other groups. Your pictures will then be better, and you will also see three rainbow mountains instead of just one with the classic tour to Vinicunca.
When does the tour start and finish?
Since the location is 3.5 hours away we will have an early start between 5:00 and 5:20 am. The tour finishes around 6:30 p.m.
Is lunch included?
Yes, you will receive lunch.
Is there a toilet on the way?
Yes and we can stop for toilet breaks.
What is the maximum altitude?
The maximum altitude we will reach is 5,200 meters (17,060 ft)
What will I do if I suffer from altitude sickness?
We will treat you accordingly. We carry oxygen cylinders and altitude tablets.
Can I take a horse if I can’t walk up?
No. Palccoyo is not as popular as Vinicunca and there are no horses available. However, the way is mostly flat and short, so you should not need a horse.