All about the Rainbow Mountain
- What is the mountain 7 colors?
- Where is the mountain 7 colors?
- Map to get to the Mountain 7 Colors
- How to get there on my own?
- How to go with a tour?
- Price of tours
- When to go?
- What to bring
- Is it worth going?
- It is dangerous?
- It is very cold?
- Can I go any day of the year? What is the best moment?
- Which tourism agency to choose?
- Is it recommended for all people?
- Does it really have the colors of the rainbow?
- Image gallery of the mountain 7 colors
- Tourist doubts about the mountain 7 colors
What is the mountain 7 colors?
The mountain 7 colors is a mineral-rich hill to the south of Cusco (approximately 100 kilometers) that, in view of the visitor, its soil acquires different tones such as red, green, yellow and their variables. This summit is called in many ways: Cerro Colorado, Rainbow Mountain. However, its real name is Cerro Vinicunca. It is part of the immense snowy Ausangate, the highest in Cusco and one of the most important in Peru.
For many years this mountain was mostly covered by snow. It is estimated that in 2015 the place was photographed by tourists who traveled through this place to go to the snowy Vinicunca. Since then, thanks to its own beauty and the popularity it gained in social networks, the mountain 7 colors began to receive more and more tourists. Today it is the second most visited attraction after Machu Picchu. Despite the intense cold and the high altitude geography, the rainbow mountain continues to position itself as one of the greatest attractions, not only in Cusco but in all of Peru.
Where is the mountain 7 colors?
This mountain, also known as Vinicunca, is located 138 kilometers away from the city of Cusco, in Peru. It is part of the Andes mountain range, more precisely of the Ausangate mountain range, the highest in the Cuzco region. Due to its geographical location, the climate is cold. The 7 Colors Mountain is 5,200 meters above sea level (17,060 ft).
Map to get to the Mountain 7 Colors
The mountain 7 colors is 5,200 meters above sea level, that is 17,060 feet high. At that altitude it is difficult to find another species of plant that is not the ichu, a wild herb whose habitat is in cold climates of high altitude. The most common animals are llamas and alpacas, whose thick wool allows them to withstand the freezing weather.
These are some tourist attractions of Cusco and its altitude in meters and feet:
- Mountain 7 colors: 5,200 masl (17,060 ft).
- Machu Picchu: 2,430 masl (7,972 ft).
- Cusco City: 3,399 masl (11,151 ft).
- Urubamba in the Sacred Valley of the Incas: 2,871 masl (9,419 ft).
The climate in the mountain 7 colors is cold. Most tourists visit between 11 am and 2 pm. At those hours, the temperature varies from 7ºC. (44.6 ° F) to 12 ° C. (53.6ºF). During the nights, the cold can drop to 0 degrees Celsius (32ºF). As in the entire Andean region, rains can occur at any time of the day.
How to get there on my own?
The first thing that tourists should know that reaching the mountain 7 colors is not easy. You must follow a route with the following sections: Cusco - Cusipata - Pampachiri - Montaña 7 Colores. The first is a bus trip from the city of Cusco to the town of Cusipata, on the southern highway. This section can be done with public transport that is taken at the fourth stop on Avenida San Sebastián in Cusco. The trip lasts 1 hour 40 minutes, approximately.
Then a second section is made by collective taxi from Cusipata to the community of Pampachiri. You can also go to the Phuluwasipata community. This section takes 1 hour on average. Both places are the starting point of the 1 hour walk that leads to the mountain of the 7 colors. Formerly there was another route that passed through the town of Checacupe. This route was longer and you walked much more to get to Vinicunca. Nobody does this old route anymore.
- Route: Cusco - Cusipata - Pampachiri - Mountain 7 colors.
- Price: From Cusco to Cusipata (3 dollars) / From Cusipata to Pampachiri (50 dollars per group round trip) / From Pampachiri to Montaña 7 Colores (walk without cost).
- More information: It is not easy to get a collective taxi from Cusipata to Pampachiri. Also, if you get this service, the price is expensive.
Near the road that leads to Vinicunca, is the Red Valley of Pitumarca, a new tourist attraction that stands out for its reddish clay soil. Some tours to the mountain 7 colors also include a visit to this new place.
How to go with a tour?
Going to the mountain 7 colors with a tour package is the safest and easiest way to go. This is because all tours include full round trip transportation. The route follows the route: Cusco - Cusipata - Pampachiri - Mountain 7 colors. The tour packages also include the following: buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, tour guide service and entrance to Vinicunca. You can get tours through the website of a tourism agency or in the offices of these agencies in the city of Cuzco.
- Route: Tours include full round trip transportation on the route Cusco - Cusipata - Pampachiri - Montaña 7 Colores.
- Price: 30 USD, approximately.
- More information: All tour packages include transportation, tour guide, breakfast, lunch and entrance fees. No tour includes transportation on horseback from Pampachiri to the mountain. This service is acquired in the same place.
Price of tours
The best way to visit the 7 Colors Mountain is with an all-inclusive tour package. There are different tourism agencies that offer this service, at varying prices. The preferred tour for visitors is 1 day, which has an approximate cost of US $ 30 per person. This makes it one of the cheapest tourist attractions in Cusco, compared to the 1-day tours to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas or other places whose cost exceeds 80 US dollars per person.
When to go?
During days of heavy rain, the mountain can be covered in snow. The rainiest months are January, February, March. Due to this, to better observe the mineral coloration of the rainbow hill, most tourists visit in the months with less rainfall, that is, May, June and July. However, the mountain receives visitors every day. Any time is a good day to appreciate this mountain.
What to bring
To counteract the high altitude geography as well as the intense cold climate, it is recommended to bring the following:
- Waterproof jacket.
- Thermal pants or leggings.
- Hiking shoes.
- Cotton socks.
- Cap or chullo.
- Poncho for rain.
- Backpack with snacks and drinks.
- Photographic camera.
- Cash and documents.
- Pills for soroche.
- Coca leaves (natural plant of the Incas to counteract altitude sickness).
- Oxygen in bottle (oxishot).
- Walking sticks.
Is it worth going?
The mountain 7 colors became famous in 2015, when a group of tourists discovered its great natural beauty while making a route to the snowy Ausangate. Since then this place has gained in popularity to the point that today it is visited by hundreds of people every day, only surpassed by Machu Picchu in Cusco. Which is the reason? The photos of tourists on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram with this mountain in the background attracted the interest of other people, making this mountain one of the most photographed and shared on the web. Despite the cold and its high altitude location (above 5,000 meters above sea level), it is worth a visit if you are looking for a bit of adventure, appreciate a unique natural landscape and get a spectacular photo.
It is dangerous?
Due to its cold climate and the altitude at which it is located, the mountain 7 colors can be difficult, especially for people who are not used to such high altitudes where it is normal to suffer some symptoms of altitude sickness (soroche). However, apart from these symptoms, it is not dangerous to visit this summit. Older adults are recommended to consult with their physician prior to this visit which includes a walk.
It is very cold?
The temperature in the mountains is cold, especially at night. When visitors make their visit (approximately between 11 am and 2 pm); the temperature can reach 12ºC. (53.6ºF) and drop to 7ºC. (44.6ºF). So you better bundle up!
The 7 Colors Mountain is just over 10 kilometers from the Ausangate snow-capped mountain, the largest in all of Cusco (6,384 meters above sea level / 20,944 ft). The other most important mountain in Cusco is the famous Salkantay (6,271 meters / 20,574 ft).
Can I go any day of the year? What is the best moment?
The mountain is open to tourists every day of the year. Unfortunately, on days of heavy rain, the mountain can be covered with snow so it is impossible to see the coloration of its soil. This tends to happen most often in January, February, and March. That is why many tourists prefer to visit during the months with little rain: June, July and August. Despite all that, any time is a good time to go there in search of a little adventure and incredible landscapes.
Which tourism agency to choose?
There are many tourism agencies that offer the tour to the mountain 7 colors. To make the right choice, make sure the package includes: breakfast, lunch, complete transportation and tour guide service. A good option is to review the comments made by tourists about the service of a tourism agency in online travel forums such as TripAdvisor. For this tour the best option is to prefer the quality of the service.
Is it recommended for all people?
The mountain 7 colors welcomes people of all nationalities and ages. However, due to the climate and the altitude at which it is located, it is not recommended for babies. If you are traveling with children under the age of 8 who are not used to hiking, the best option is definitely to rent a horse. Older adults can take the walk at a slow pace or rent a horse. It is advisable that you consult your doctor before visiting the mountain. Young people can do this route without problems. If you do not have a good physical condition, make the walk slowly enjoying the landscape.
Does it really have the colors of the rainbow?
This place is also known as the 'rainbow mountain' for its mineralogical composition that gives it a series of 6 colors that are not exactly those of the rainbow. However, seen from a distance, these colors take on an unmatched beauty.
Its colors are:
- Pink (due to red clay combined with sand and mud.
- Whitish (due to quartz sandstone.
- Red (due to clay).
- Green (due to ferro-magnesian clay and phyllites).
- Brown (due to the fanglomerate with magnesium rock).
- Mustard yellow (due to calcareous sandstones).
Image gallery of the mountain 7 colors
Tourist doubts about the mountain 7 colors
These are some of the doubts that visitors have about the trip to the mountain 7 colors:
a) Is it advisable to go with children?The truth, no. Children under 8 years of age, if they are not used to walking and cold temperatures, may complain of the cold and also of the symptoms of altitude sickness. Remember that Vinicunca is above 5,200 meters above sea level (17,060 ft).
b) Is it recommended for older adults?That depends on whether the older adult is in good physical condition. Remember that this route includes a 1 hour walk (horseback riding is optional). Altitude sickness symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea; they can cause decomposition in older adults who are not well physically.
c) Is the walk difficult?Yes. The walk from the Pampachiri camp to Vinicunca covers approximately 5 kilometers. This route is done in a high and cold geography, with some sections of ascent and others in flat places. If you are not physically well, one option is to rent a horse with your muleteer from one of the local residents.
d) How to get horses?At the Pampachiri camp, the starting point for the final trek to the 7 colors mountain are the local farmers who offer their horses and their service as muleteers to tourists. To get this service, you simply have to agree a price with the resident.
e) How much does it cost to rent horses?The visitor can negotiate a price with the resident for the rental of the horse and the service of the muleteer. The price can vary around $ 30 per person.
f) How much does the ticket cost?If you travel on your own, you must pay the entrance to the mountain 7 colors, which has a cost of 10 Peruvian soles (approximately 3 US dollars). Some tourism agencies do not include this entrance ticket in their tourist packages, so they must pay for it once they are there.
g) Can I camp near the mountain?In the same mountain 7 colors you can not camp (also the cold is very intense at night). One option is to camp at one of the authorized campsites near Vinicunca (near the communities of Pampachiri and Phuluwasipata.