Rainbows are so pretty and calming to look at. But, the Peruvian Rainbows certainly hit differently. Ah, yes we are referring to the dazzling Rainbow Mountains in Peru. Nature is an art piece, and no appreciation is enough.
Let us look at the two Peruvian Jewels which are as popular as the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or Sacred Valley of Incas.
Google Rainbow Mountain and the first name that surfaces is Vinicunca or Winikunka or Montana de Colores. Located southeast of Cusco, the Vinicunca Rainbow mountain’s seven natural colors leave every visitor wondrous of how such a thing can exist naturally. The same can be attributed to mineralogical composition.
Rainbow Mountain Palcoyo was discovered when Vinicunca was already a thing. And, hence is often referred to as the alternative. Of course, there is no compromise with the view. Your eyes will enjoy an equally breathtaking treat at the Palccoyo, too.
Vinicunca has been tantalising 1500 visitors every day for quite some time. Palccoyo offers the view of three rainbow mountains. If this wasn’t enough, you can also spot the locals working in their farms, and llamas, and alpacas in the distance.
In addition to the Rainbow Mountain of Vinicunca, you can continue the hike from the top of the mountain to the red valley. A full day tour to Palccoyo on the contrary takes you through the bridge of Checacupe which resembles Q’eswachaka.
The full day trip to the colored mountains of Vinicunca will take you to an altitude of 5200 meters above sea level, while the Palccoyo will lead you to some 5000 m. The numbers are comparable. Both are at a high altitude.
In either case, you have to beware of altitude sickness. And, if you have any past medical history related to the same, Palccoyo is what we recommend.
If you are a pro, Vinicunca is for you, or else, you will be so exhausted by the time you reach the top that you won’t be able to enjoy anything. The Palccoyo hike is relatively easy (just 45 minutes from the base).
Well, as is predictable by now Vinicunca demands a longer hike, somewhere between 3 to 4 hours (1.5-2 hour hike upwards). But, then you can opt for a horse ride. However, that won’t cover all views. On the other hand, the Palccoyo is a 1-hour hike upwards.
Although Rainbow Mountain Tour is operated round the year, June, July, August, and September are the peak months in Cusco. Rains in Cusco come with snow, and you are not going on that tough hike to see the rainbow mountains covered in snow. There are better places to see snow. The hike can get so difficult during snow that you can’t hike at all.
Do not risk it by planning to visit the Rainbow Mountains Vinicunca in the rainy season. You are surely gonna repent later. The best time to visit is the dry season. While Palccoyo can be visited anytime between April and December, the ideal months to visit Vinicunca would be July and August.