The abundance of phenomenal treks in the Peruvian Andes is well known. The Vinicunca Rainbow mountain & Ausangate Trek does not disappoint…but provides something that is not seen anywhere else on this continent and in only one other place in the entire world (China). This is the spectacular, recently discovered Rainbow Mountain, officially named Vinicunca. The majesty of this trek is hard to put in to words, but the best comparisons are to Iceland and Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. Your mind will be blown by the wealth of waterfalls and turquoise lakes.
In addition to the scenery, you will see hoards of alpacas and llamas, as well as the only indigenous habitat of the Incan Vicuña (which has the most expensive wool in the world). You will also learn about the traditions of the Andean people with visits to local villages.
Machu Picchu is the gem of the Sacred Valley in Peru, which leads many people to skip this stunning region. However, if you are coming to Peru, we believe these mountains fall into the category of bucket list destinations along with Machu Picchu.
We set off early from Cusco traveling by private van to the small village of Tinqui. We will see the impressive mountain range of Vilcanota and pass through several traditional Andean villages en route and take time to stop to take some photos. When we arrive at Tinqui (our trailhead), we will have a delicious breakfast prepared by our master chef. Then our horsemen will arrange all the group gear and packs on the horses and our trek officially begins. We begin our walk through farming communities and enjoy the breathtaking views of the mountains. We will walk for around 3 hrs and then its time for a lunch stop. After lunch we continue for another 2 hours to reach Upis (4,100 m / 13,448 ft). There we will have the opportunity to soak in the local hot springs before dinner, and camp for the night.
After a big breakfast we are ready to leave our camp and get started on our hike for the day. We will climb to the Arapa Pass (4,850 m / 15,908 ft). From this vantage point we will enjoy the contrast between dry desert like hills and breathtaking snow capped views of Mt. Ausangate and Pucacocha. This area also boasts three beautiful lakes with tones of reds, greens, and turquoises (Pucacocha, Hatun Pucacocha, and Qomercocha). Our second campsite is close to Ausangate glacier.
Today, you will be woken up with “room service” (a hot cup of coca tea). This is going to be one of the most beautiful days of the trek. We will see the Rainbow Mountains in the distance. Also, on today´s journey, we will pass through Alccatauri Village. This is where we will see their traditional village life. There are no trees in the area, so there is no wood to make houses or build fires. The residents are extremely enterprising and make their adobe houses out of mud and build fires with nature´s fertilizer, a.k.a. manure. J.
The day begins with a 1 ½ hour uphill climb until we reach the Ausangate pass (4,930 m / 16,170 ft). At this pass, we will see red mountains and also have the opportunity to see Vicuñas, chinchillas and alpacas.
After we enjoy the pass, we descend for 1 ½ hours until we reach the Alccatauri Village (4,400 m / 14,435 ft). During our time at the village, in return for their generous hospitality, we will give them offerings of coca leaves. This is extremely valuable because this treasurable Peruvian staple can not be grown in this climate.
Following this incomparable experience, we will hike a further 30 minutes uphill to our lunch spot at a rustic lodge.
After a satisfying lunch, we will begin our voyage uphill to the second pass. After 1 ½ hours, we will follow Llama trail to Minasniyuq Pass. Here we will have our first views of the Rainbow Mountains (5,020 m / 16,469 ft). At this pass, we will make offerings to Pacha Mama (Mother Earth).
The remainder of the day´s journey is a 1 hour downhill hike to our camp, Surine Cocha (4,800 m / 15,748 ft). The camp is on the banks of the gorgeous Surine Lake (pictured above).
After breakfast we hike gradually uphill for 2 hours until we reach the famous Rainbow Mountain (5,020 m / 16,469 ft). Your guide will walk you to the best spots to get the perfect pictures of these incredible mountains and the other surrounding mountains. Your guide will explain what makes these mountains so unique: they are composed of various minerals, which make different colors of stone striations. Not only is this one of the most stunning places in Peru and South America, these type of mountains are seen in only one other country in the world, China.
After taking photos and enjoying the view, we will continue on the trek until we reach Quesiuno Village. This is a 2 ½ hour downhill hike. We will have lunch there.
Our private van will be waiting to pick us up in this village after lunch. We will then drive 3 ½ hours back to Cusco. After one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, we will drop you off at your Cusco hotel. Approximate arrival time is 6 PM.
***We rate the overall and daily trek difficulties on the following scale: