What’s best: Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) or Palccoyo?

14 Jun
Wat is beter: Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) of Palccoyo?
Friday June 14, 2019 - Posted by to Adventure Travel, Cusco, Destinations, Peru Travel

What’s best: Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) or Palccoyo?

Many travellers in Peru have heard about the famous Rainbow Mountain in Cusco, but a new tour name is emerging on the market radar: Palccoyo, also known as the Alternative Rainbow Mountain. If you are wondering what’s the best option for you and you question the differences and the pros and cons of each tour, this article is for you!  In this blog, we would like to explain some of the differences between the two tours and what you can expect. This will help you to decide what tour to check off your bucket list and see what’s best: Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) or Palccoyo?

Quick Facts about Rainbow Mountain and Palccoyo:

amazing rainbow mountain

Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) Full-Day Tour

Altitude: 5,045 meters above sea level or 16,552 feet above sea level
Province: Quispicanchi
District: Cusipata and Pitumarca
Trekking Cusipata Route: 8 kilometres or 4.5 miles walking roundtrip (3 and a half hours approx. walking roundtrip)

palccoyo peru

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 (50-60 minutes approx. walking roundtrip from the trailhead)


The Elevation of both treks

As you can see, the altitudes of both hikes are at a breathtaking elevation. I mean this literally. The altitude is almost as high as the Mount Everest Base Camp. Therefore, we recommend spending at least two days or more in Cusco to acclimatize before you attempt either of these treks. If you do not feel comfortable at the Cusco elevation, these treks may not be the best option for you. Some people have a little problem with the altitude and others have more severe reactions. You will need to walk at a slower pace than normal and take breaks when you need to rest.

On either trek, you can find a stunning array of striated color from the mineral deposits present in the soil.

palccoyo alternative rainbow mountain peru

The Hike

The Palccoyo trek is shorter, takes less time to complete and is at a slightly lower altitude at the highest point as compared to Rainbow Mountain. The Palccoyo trek leaves around 6.00 am from Cusco while we pick up yo around 3.30 am for the Rainbow Mountain Tour. Both treks bring you back to Cusco around 6.30 pm and both treks normally include the transport, the guide, the entrance fee, a simple breakfast and a lunch in a local restaurant along the road.

trek to rainbow mountain

Number of Hikers Daily

The Palccoyo trek has fewer people than Rainbow Mountain. The average amount of tourists per day on the Palccoyo trek are between 80 to 100 people. During the low season, you can find about 300 to 400 people on the Rainbow Mountain trek. But during the high season, you can expect 600 to 700 people per day on the Rainbow Mountain trek. (These numbers are taken from 2019 statistics).

The Palccoyo trek is also less steep, and there is a very subtle incline, whereas the Rainbow Mountain trek has a steep trek upward near the end of the hike.

rainbow mountain tour cusco peru

What to See

On the Palccoyo trek, you can see a rock forest (Bosque del Monje), lamas, alpacas, a red valley, a colonial stone bridge as well as an Inca bridge and on a clear day, you can see the snow-capped peaks of the Ausangate as well as many more glaciated mountains in the distance.

On the Rainbow Mountain trek, you can see herds of sheep, lamas, alpacas, small stone homes and the snowy peaks of the Ausangate Mountain on the horizon.


Sustainable Tourism


One of the missions of Dos Manos Travel to promote sustainability, support local Peruvian communities by creating an economic influx and respecting their cultural values and preserving the cultural and historical significance of the tourist sites.  Continue to read to learn more about Dos Manos’ 12 tips on  Responsible Travel , and see how you can be more environmentally and culturally sustainable.

red valley rainbow peru

Create a Positive Image


As the number of tourists to this area in Peru is ever increasing, there have been development projects such as new parking lots in wetland areas, increased waste and litter and heavy erosion from foot traffic.
How can you create a positive image of what it means to be a tourist?


  • Remember that you are representing not only yourself but your country as well. The locals will look to you to see if you are respecting the sacred lands of their ancestors.
  • Be respectful of the local communities, your guides and the horsemen you encounter. Always ask before you take someone’s photograph.
  • Please try to refrain from yelling, screaming or other loud and vulgar language. Please do not leave your trash behind, bring re-usable water bottles and do not walk off the designated trails to create less erosion of the gorgeous landscapes. Please do not take away any natural souvenirs like rocks or plants.
  • When you are deciding upon a tour company in Cusco always ask the company these questions:
    What are some of your tour company’s environmentally friendly practices?  Can you give me an example of how your trips help to protect and support wildlife or cultural heritage?  Do you employ local guides on your trips?

red valley rainbow peru

Read more about Rainbow Mountain?

Rainbow Mountain:  to visit or not to visit?
Five tips to make the most out of your Rainbow Mountain Visit

For any further questions, contact a member of the Dos Manos Team


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