Peru is a popular tourist destination that offers a diverse landscape and rich cultural heritage. In 2015, a stunning geological wonder was added to the country’s list of must-see attractions: Vinicunca, also known as the Rainbow Mountain or the Mountain of Seven Colors. The mountain was revealed when the snow covering it melted, revealing its unique marbled hues of gold, lavender, red, and turquoise.
Vinicunca is now the second-most visited site in the Cusco region, attracting about 1,500 visitors per day. It is considered a holy site in Peru and has become a popular spot for international tourists, in part due to its presence on Instagram. Tour operators in Cusco offer full-day trips to the Rainbow Mountain, which lies around 100 km from the city. The cost of these tours is around $30, excluding the 10 soles entry fee that is taken at the site.
Hikers can expect to trek a round trip of approximately 8 km to reach the summit of Vinicunca, which stands over 5,000 meters above sea level. The path is not too challenging, although the final part of the hike is steeper. For those who prefer an alternative mode of transportation, horses can be rented for 80 soles, or mountain bikes are available for hire. It is recommended to spend a few days in the Cusco region to acclimatize to the high altitude before attempting to hike the mountain.
The best time to visit Vinicunca is between March and November, with the most blue skies occurring from June to August. However, weather conditions on the mountain can change quickly, and views can be marred by bad weather, sometimes to the point of complete visibility loss. It is important to lower expectations from the picture-perfect images seen online, as some may have been heavily edited. Visitors should also be prepared for changes in temperature and bring layers, a rain jacket, sunglasses, sunscreen, and plenty of water. Despite the unpredictable weather, the Rainbow Mountain remains a popular destination, and locals take advantage of the crowds by selling souvenirs, including photos with llamas wearing glasses.