All about the red valley of Pitumarca
What is the red valley of Pitumarca?
The red valley of Pitumarca is one of the new tourist attractions of Cusco. It is a natural attraction where you can see a chain of mountains of reddish color due to the abundance of minerals in the area. This impressive landscape attracts approximately 500 visitors a day.
To get to the red valley of Pitumarca you have to walk approximately 2 hours. This route crosses high Andean mountains full of beautiful landscapes. This hike is difficult for some visitors. For others, it is part of the adventure. One of the most beautiful landscapes that can be found is the red river, whose waters have that natural color.
Many tourists visit the red valley of Pitumarca together with their visit to the mountain of the 7 colors, located a short distance away. Both destinations are at the foot of the famous Ausangate mountain, the highest in Cusco.
Where and at what altitude is it located?
The red valley is located 7 kilometers from the district of Pitumarca, in the province of Canchis, south of Cusco. Geographically it is located at the foot of the snowy Ausangate. Its altitude is 5,020 meters above sea level (16,469 feet high).
One of the tourist attractions of the red valley of Pitumarca is the so-called 'Yawar Mayu' or red river, which shows its waters of a reddish color during the rainy months, that is, from November to March. The color of the river is due to the abundance of minerals from the high peaks of the red valley. During the rest of the year, the waters return to have a dull color.
How to get?
The route begins in the city of Cusco from where you must take public transport to the town of Pitumarca (2 hours away). Once there, you must follow a short taxi route to the town of K'ayrawiri, the starting point for the 2-hour walk to the red valley. The best way to do this route is with an all-inclusive tour.
Map to get to the red valley of Pitumarca
Due to its high altitude and its proximity to the snowy Ausangate, the climate in the red valley is cold. Between 11 am and 2 pm. (the time of day when tourists visit), the temperature varies from 7ºC. (44.6ºF) up to 12ºC. (53.6ºF). At night, the temperature can drop as low as 0 degrees Celsius (32ºF). The rains happen mainly during in January, February and March.
The final part of the trip to the red valley of Pitumarca must be done on foot. It begins in the community of K'ayrawiri, from where you have to walk about 7 kilometers, approximately. During the route you can appreciate the beautiful mountainous landscapes, tinged with snow in some sections. You can also see llamas and alpacas, auquénids characteristic of the region. Finally, after 2 or 3 hours of walking, you will arrive at the red valley, a set of reddish mountain formations, ideal for taking pictures.
The red valley of Pitumarca has one of the most incredible landscapes of Cusco. During the days of the dry season (mainly May, June and July) you can see the white of the snow combining with the red of the mountains. During the rainy season (mainly January, February and March), however, you can see the flood of the 'red river', which presents a coloration similar to the mountain. Both landscapes are excellent options for taking pictures.
It is dangerous?
The visit to the red valley of Pitumarca is safe. The paths are wide and can be easily traveled. Perhaps the only drawbacks are the cold and the altitude, which can cause some discomfort to visitors, such as altitude sickness. The main symptoms of this discomfort are: headache, nausea and fatigue. To counteract these discomforts, it is advisable to drink plenty of water.
How much does the tour cost?
The way more tourists visit the red valley of Pitumarca is through the 1-day tour, which has an approximate cost of 30 US dollars per tourist. The service includes: complete transportation, tourist guide, entrance ticket, breakfast, lunch and implements for the walk. Some tours include a visit to the mountain of the 7 colors. Prices may vary depending on the tourism agency you choose.
What should i bring?
- Trekking shoes.
- Rain jackets.
- Cap or chullo.
- Thermal pants or leggings.
- Rehydrating drinks.
- Photo camera.
More information about the red valley of Pitumarca
The tour to the red valley of Pitumarca is recommended for people over 12 years of age who like outdoor walks. Older adults should consult with their doctor before taking the tour. The visit is not recommended for people with heart ailments.
The tours to the red valley that include the 7 colors mountain begin with the 2-hour walk to Vinicunca, one of the most touristic places in Cusco. Then we continue with an additional walk (of another 2 hours) to the red valley of Pitumarca. It is a somewhat demanding route but different from the rest.
In addition to the beautiful landscapes, the trip to the red valley offers the experience of knowing the lifestyle of the inhabitants of the place. They, in exchange for a sum of money, offer their horses to visitors who do not wish to walk. It is a way of subsistence for the local population.
To make the tour to the red valley of Pitumarca it is advisable to previously adapt 1 or 2 days to the climate of the city of Cusco. This way you can better withstand the cold and the elevated geography of the mountains. A good option is to schedule the trip to the red valley for day 2 or 3 of your stay in Cusco.
If you like hiking in the open air through high mountains, you should definitely also dare to take the routes to the mountain 7 colors (Vinicunca) and the Humantay lagoon. Both are two of the most incredible landscapes of Cusco. In addition, they include a 2 or 3 hour walk.