Rainbow Mountain Peru Day Trip: Hour-by-Hour Itinerary & Top Tips

I recently did the Rainbow Mountain Peru day trip from Cusco and I’d like to tell you a little about my experience! I’m going to explain how the trip goes, hour by hour. As it is a long day, I feel this format will give you the best overview of what is involved at every stage of what is truly an incredible adventure. We traveled with Rainbow Mountain Travels by the way, extremely recommended and we’re 100% sure they made the trip a whole lot better!

Rainbow Mountain Peru Day Trip:

3:00 AM

Drag yourself out of bed. I know it’s early but trust me, it’s worth it.

Pack your bag the night before. I know it sounds obvious but my friend thought otherwise. She forgot some essential items which had a huge impact on her day.

What was in my backpack for Rainbow Mountain:

  • Water 2.5 Litres
  • Snacks (protein bar, cereal bar, a packet of chips ahoy and a banana)
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Rain Jacket
  • Wool Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Toilet Paper

What my friend forgot:

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Raincoat

Forgetting the raincoat was a disaster for my friend, as it did rain very briefly on the Rainbow Mountain Peru day trip. Her clothes were damp for the bit of the trek and worst of all she had to have some of my snacks and water!

Try not to go overboard with your bag either, we saw others carry way more things than needed and you could tell they were not enjoying it at all.

3:00 AM – 5:00 AM

Two beautiful hours of sleep. You’ll need every minute!

We fell asleep straight away on the bus. This was no problem as we booked with Rainbow Mountain Travels and the seats were very extremely comfortable. The drive can be a bit bumpy at times and I saw a few people with a pillow which would be a good idea as I was jealous of those who had one. But other than that, the journey was mostly smooth (compared to other tours we had already taken in Cusco).

5:00 AM


At this stage you probably won’t really know where you are because of your broken sleep, but it’s the perfect spot. Our breakfast was included in our tour and consisted of local food. Eat as much as you can (but don’t overdo it either). It’s a long hike and you’ll need as much energy as possible.

6:00 AM

You will eventually come to your senses and realize that your about to climb Rainbow Mountain and hopefully by now you’ll be feeling fresh and ready to go! That’s how I felt anyway. We began the trek and I was leading at the front with the guide. Three hours I thought – no problem?

6:15 AM

We took our first break after just fifteen minutes. Yes. Fifteen minutes. With a couple beads of sweat forming on my forehead, I couldn’t believe we were only fifteen minutes in. I looked at my guide and he was laughing at me saying “tranquilo amiga …. It will get easier!”. And thank God he was right. It does flatten out and the next forty-five minutes were a much more enjoyable walk. If you still have difficulties or just don’t feel like walking, one thing to know is that there are horses available for rental along the path.

Horse Rental at Rainbow Mountain Peru

7:00 AM

I was really beginning to enjoy this hike. The most amazing thing about hiking Vinicunca (Quechua name for Rainbow Mountain) is the variety of landscapes you witness while walking up. Your eyes are surrounded with a panoramic scene of intense colors. Stone walls stretch across different angles along the rocky terrain and fluffy alpacas are running around like dogs. It is a bizarre but beautiful sight.

8:00 AM

Home stretch

At this point the hike was becoming quite difficult and you realize that altitude sickness is not a myth. Luckily our guide had some coca leaves – an indigenous Peruvian treatment for altitude sickness. These really helped and you should definitely pack some for your hike. Our guide also had access to oxygen tanks on the hike which was nice to know for reassurance. It was a major factor when choosing who to book with and it seemed like Rainbow Mountain Travels were one of the few that offered that additional perk.

9:00 AM

You’ve reached the summit of Vinicunca and you now have time to hang out and get loads of photos.

When you make it to the summit of Vinicunca, the scenery is really something to behold. The maroon soil is topped with rainbow tips which gives you a euphoric feeling as if you are on another planet. The most incredible mountain range meets the Ausangate glacier which gives an insane contrast of landscapes that is truly mesmerizing. Because we had walked so far to get there, I felt that it made it that much sweeter when we reached the top. All the strenuous activity we put our bodies through to get there was instantly worth it. Seeing Rainbow Mountain was an unforgettable experience. We were one of the first groups there which gave us lots of time to enjoy the view and take some pics/selfies.

9:30 AM – 10:00 AM

We used this time to head to the Red Valley. It’s an optional bit that can be added onto the tour and what a great decision that was. Unlike Rainbow Mountain that is multicolored, Red Valley is known for its intense red color.

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

The climb down Vinicunca is much easier and it flys by. There was still adrenaline flowing through my blood from the euphoric buzz of the summit. I couldn’t get the smile off my face. This hike truly surprised me. I was taken aback by the whole adventure. Getting back on the bus, I was sad to leave not knowing when I’ll be back, but I was also extremely happy to be on the bus and slept the whole way back to Cusco.

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12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Stop for lunch. This was also included in our tour and was a perfect reward after taking on the Rainbow Mountain. We got to know a bit more of the others we were on the tour with, shared pictures and talked about the rest of our traveling plans in Peru that we had in mind.

3:00 PM

We arrived back into Cusco. After a jam-packed day, we were happily surprised to be back so early! This gave us time to have a nap and meet up with the others later that night for some beers!

Enjoying the Rainbow Mountain Peru day trip


Rainbow Mountain will take you a full day to see, but it is most definitely worth the effort. The journey there is an experience in itself and the incredible view from the top is the perfect way to end the adventure. Hiking Rainbow Mountain truly surpassed all my expectations. I would advise you to do the trek with an open mind. Put away your phone and talk with the people who you are hiking with. Being 17,000ft above sea level releases a beautiful sense of detachment from the world around you. I could not recommend this trek any more and I hope you have as great of an experience as I did. Definitely check out Rainbow Mountain Travels when planning, probably one of the best tour operators in our whole Peru trip and made the trip unforgettable!

Summary of My Top Tips

  • Pack your bag the night before.
  • Bring a raincoat (understanding the weather in Rainbow Mountain is important)
  • Bring water (2.5 L)
  • Bring snacks
  • Take a pillow for the bus journeys
  • Don’t forget coca leaves (your guide may not have them)
  • Bring your camera (to remember the incredible experience)
  • We couldn’t recommend Rainbow Mountain Travels enough, quality service throughout the trip!