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What is best: Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) or Palccoyo?

Rainbow Mountain or Palccoyo?

A country of breathtaking landscapes and natural wonders, Peru offers adventurous travelers the opportunity to explore its beautiful mountain ranges. Among the best known are Rainbow Mountain and the Palccoyo Mountains, both located in the Andes near Cusco. While both destinations promise awe-inspiring views and a taste of Peru’s natural beauty, they offer different experiences. In this comprehensive guide, we compare Rainbow Mountain and Palccoyo Mountain Range to help you decide which is best: Rainbow Mountain (Vincunca) or Palccoyo?

Trek to Rainbow MountainMany travelers in Peru know the famous Rainbow Mountain in Cusco, but for a few years now this alternative tour name has also been on the market radar: Palccoyo, also known as the Alternative Rainbow Mountain. If you are wondering what the best options are for you and are unsure about the differences, pros and cons of each tour, then this article is for you! We’ll explain some of the differences between the two tours and what to expect so you can decide which tour to check off your Peru bucket list: Rainbow Mountain (Vincunca) or Palccoyo?

Amazing Rainbow MountainQuick Facts about Rainbow Mountain and Palccoyo:

Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) Full-Day Tour
Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) Full-Day Tour
Province: Quispicanchi
District: Cusipata and Pitumarca
Trekking Cusipata Route: 12 kilometres or 7.5 miles walking roundtrip (3 and a half hours approx. walking roundtrip)
Difficulty: The Rainbow Mountain hike is moderately challenging. The altitude and steep terrain can be physically demanding, but most hikers with average fitness levels can complete it
Palccoyo (Alternative Rainbow Mountain) Full-Day Tour
Altitude: 4,900 meters above sea level or 16,076 feet above sea level
Province: Canchis
District: Checacupe (Community of Palccoyo)
Trekking Checacupe Route: 2 kilometres or 1.2 miles walking roundtrip from the trailhead (55 minutes approx. walking roundtrip from the trailhead)
Difficulty of the Hike: The hike in Palccoyo is considered easier and suitable for all fitness levels, including families with children and elderly travelers.

Palccoyo Mountains

How high is Rainbow Mountain? And Palcoyo?

As you can see, the elevations of both walks are at breathtaking heights. I mean this literally. The altitude is almost as high as Mount Everest Base Camp. Therefore, we recommend spending at least two days or more in Cusco to acclimatize before attempting any of these treks. If you don’t feel comfortable with the altitude of Cusco, these tours may not be the best option for you. Some people have a minor problem with the altitude and others have more severe reactions. You should walk slower than normal and take breaks when necessary.

Palccoyo alternative rainbow mountain Peru

How long is the hike on Rainbow Mountain? And Palcoyo?

The Palccoyo trek is shorter, takes less time and is at a slightly lower altitude at the highest point compared to Rainbow Mountain. The Palccoyo trekking departs from Cusco around 6:00 AM while we pick you up around 3:30 AM for the Rainbow Mountain Tour.

How many tourists visit Rainbow Mountain every day?

The Palccoyo trek also has fewer people than Rainbow Mountain. The average number of tourists per day on the Palccoyo trek is between 80 and 100 people. During the off season you can find around 300 to 400 people on the Rainbow Mountain trek. But during peak season, you can expect 600 to 700 people per day on the Rainbow Mountain trek. (These figures are from 2019 statistics).

Palccoyo Peru The Palccoyo trek is also less steep and there is a very subtle incline, while the Rainbow Mountain trek has a steep uphill climb at the end of the hike.

Which trail is more popular? Rainbow Mountain (Vincunca) or Palccoyo??

Sustainable Tourism
One of the missions of Dos Manos Travel is to promote sustainability. We support local Peruvian communities by creating an economic influx. We respect their cultural values and help preserve the historical significance of Peru’s tourist sites (read Dos Manos’ 12 tips on responsible travel).

As the number of tourists to this area in Peru continues to increase, there have been development projects such as new parking lots in wetland areas, increased waste and litter, and heavy erosion from foot traffic.A few tips to be more environmentally and culturally sustainable.

  • Be respectful of the local communities, your guides and the riders you encounter.
  • Always ask before taking someone’s photo.
  • Please try not to yell or scream.
  • Don’t leave your trash behind, but take reusable water bottles with you
  • Do not stray from the indicated paths to avoid erosion of the beautiful landscapes.
  • Do not take natural souvenirs such as stones or plants with you.

During the Palccoyo trek you will see a ”bosque de piedras’ (Bosque del Monje), llamas, alpacas, a red valley, a colonial stone bridge and an Inca bridge and on a clear day you can see the snow-capped peaks of the Ausangate and many more glacial mountains in the distance.

Palccoyo offers a series of colorful, tiered mountains similar to Rainbow Mountain, but in a less crowded setting. You will enjoy views of the unique landscape without the crowds.

During the Rainbow Mountain trek you will see herds of sheep, llamas, alpacas, small stone houses and the snow-capped peaks of Ausangate Mountain on the horizon.

The highlight of Rainbow Mountain is its stunning geological formations, with vibrant layers of mineral deposits creating a rainbow-like appearance. You will be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding Andes.
On both trips you will find a stunning array of striped colors from the mineral deposits present.

What to see while visiting Rainbow Mountain and Palccoyo?

Rainbow Mountain is a popular choice for its unique and Instagram-worthy scenery. Travelers often prefer the challenge of the hike and the opportunity to see the iconic rainbow-striped mountain. Rainbow Mountain’s popularity can be attributed to its extraordinary natural beauty, which has gained international recognition through social media.
Palccoyo is preferred by travelers looking for a more relaxing walking experience with fewer crowds. Families and people looking for a picturesque yet accessible tour often choose Palccoyo. Despite being less known, Palccoyo has become popular among travelers seeking the stunning geological formations without the hustle and bustle of larger crowds.

Rainbow mountain tour Cusco PeruIn short, both Rainbow Mountain and

Rainbow Mountain (Vincunca) or Palccoyo? Palccoyo Mountain Range offer remarkable natural beauty and the chance to explore Peru’s mountainous terrain. Your choice between the two will depend on your fitness level, desire for a challenging hike, and preference for crowd size. While Rainbow Mountain is famous for its vibrant colors and Instagram appeal, Palccoyo offers a quieter and more family-friendly alternative. Whichever you choose, both destinations promise unforgettable experiences amid the breathtaking landscapes of Peru’s Andes.

Red Valley Rainbow Peru

Do you have questions about these tours?
Contact one of our Peru Trip Advisors

Tour Rainbow Mountain     Tour Palccoyo

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