The Ultimate Guide to Preparing for Your Rainbow Mountain Day Hike


If you’re planning to visit Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca), there are a few things you need to prepare for your hike and done it successfully.

What is Rainbow Mountain  Peru? 

Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca or Montaña de Siete Colores, is a breathtakingly beautiful natural wonder located in Peru. It gets its name due to the various colors that are present on the mountain, which range from shades of pink, red, and green to purple and yellow. It is a popular tourist destination and attracts visitors from all over the world. The hike to the summit of the mountain can be challenging, due to its high elevation, but it is well worth the effort to experience the incredible scenery.


 First, you should plan to acclimate to the high altitude of the area. The Rainbow Mountain sits at an elevation of 5,200 meters (17,060 feet), which can be very challenging for many people. To acclimate, it’s best to spend a few days in Cusco or other high-altitude locations before attempting to hike to the Rainbow Mountain in Perú.

Next, you should make sure you have the right gear for hiking. This includes sturdy hiking boots, a warm jacket, gloves, hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, rain jacket or poncho. It’s also a good idea to bring snacks and water to keep you energized and hydrated during the hike.

Finally, you should consider hiring a guide or joining a tour group to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience. They can provide you with additional information about the area and ensure that you stay on the correct trail.

Can you see Rainbow Mountain without hiking?  

No, you cannot see Rainbow Mountain without hiking or taking an hour-long horse ride. The best views are from the lookouts from the 5200 meter above sea level, even you can see part of the mountain from the trail ahead, it is not the same when you arrive at the summit. 

Should I go to Rainbow Mountain before or after Machu Picchu?  

It is advisable to save your visit to Rainbow Mountain tour for the final days of your stay in Cusco. After  at least 2 or 3 days in Cusco or around. It’s better to acclimate to the altitude first before attempting on your Rainbow Mountain adventure, Also it is recommended to do some other tours like Humantay Lake before in order to train for a better performance on the day of Rainbow Mountain. 

Is Rainbow mountain harder than Inca Trail?  

Whether you want a multi-day journey with varied terrain and altitude variations (the Inca Trail) or a shorter but steeper day climb (Rainbow Mountain), the difficulty of the two might vary depending on your personal fitness level and experience at high altitudes and acclimatization before each tour. Even though Rainbow Mountain is a short hike it can be a bad experience if you don’t take the respective prevention measures.
The Inca Trail is a multi-day hike with different days, ones which are very easy and ones which are very difficult. Dead Woman’s Pass, the trail’s highest point, is approximately 4,215 meters (13,829 feet) above sea level. It involves several days of hiking and camping over a variety of terrain and altitudes for 4 days. Because of that , the Inca Trail 4-day hike is considered to be more physically challenging than Rainbow Mountain or Humantay Lake.
Rainbow Mountain is a shorter day trek that reaches a high elevation of about 5,206 meters (17,040 ft) which is only a one-day tour from Cusco. The fact that you are taking a bus and climbing to a high altitude quickly can make it difficult and increase your risk of altitude sickness. The challenging climb up Rainbow Mountain can be quite difficult of the altitude but if you acclimate and take all the information mentioned before you will enjoy the day tour. 

How do you prepare for Rainbow Mountain?  

  • Acclimate for 2 days in Cusco before your tour.
  • Upon your arrival in Cusco, opt for lighter meals to aid digestion.
  • Aim to consume 6 to 8 liters of water daily during your stay in Cusco.
  • Avoid coffee or coca tea before sleep.
  • Get ample sleep of at least 6 hours, retiring early before your tour.
  • Consider undertaking less hard activities like visiting Sacred Valley or Humantay Lake prior to attempting Rainbow Mountain hike.
  • Pack energy bars and drinks for your day hike to Rainbow Mountain.
  • Ensure you have personal medication on hand for headaches or altitude sickness.
Most importantly, listen to your body during the Rainbow Mountain hike. If you encounter difficulty for any reason, it’s advisable to either take a horse or skip the summit. Your safety is paramount.

How to acclimatize  to Rainbow Mountain altitude?

Acclimatization to altitude can be a gradual process that can take several days to a few weeks depending on your level of physical fitness. Here are some tips to help you acclimate to altitude in Perú:

  • Gradual ascent: Ascend slowly to give your body time to adjust to the reduced oxygen in the air.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and to help your body adjust to the altitude.
  • Eat well: Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up.
  • Rest: Get plenty of rest to help your body adjust to the altitude.
  • Avoid alcohol and cigarettes: Avoid alcohol and cigarettes as they can negatively affect your acclimatization process.
  • Medication: Talk to your doctor about taking medication to help with altitude sickness symptoms such as headaches or nausea.
  • Remember, altitude sickness can be a serious condition. If you experience severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or cough, seek medical attention immediately.

What medication is good for altitude sickness?

Acetazolamide (Diamox) is a medication commonly used for altitude sickness. It helps to prevent or alleviate symptoms by increasing the acidity of your blood, which stimulates breathing to improve oxygen levels in your body. However, you should consult with a doctor before taking any medication for altitude sickness, as there may be other factors to consider based on your individual health and hiking plans. 

What exercises should I do before a Rainbow Mountain hike?

There are several exercises you can do to prepare for a hike. Here are a few:
Cardiovascular exercises are a great way to improve heart health and increase stamina. Some examples of cardiovascular exercises include brisk walking, running, swimming, bicycling, and aerobic exercise. It is important to maintain an elevated heart rate for an extended period of time to get the best cardiovascular results. Always remember to consult a health professional before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Squats and lunges to strengthen your leg muscles.
  • Core exercises such as planks and crunches to strengthen your abs and back muscles.
  • Calf raises to strengthen your calves.
  • Stretching exercises such as hamstring stretches to increase flexibility.
  • Remember to also warm up before any exercise and stay hydrated throughout your hike.


What do I do if I get sick on a rainbow mountain?

If you get sick on a rainbow mountain tour, it’s important to prioritize your health and safety. Here are some steps you can take:
Inform your travel company or tour guide immediately: Let them know about your condition so they can assist you in getting medical help or taking necessary actions.
Rest and stay hydrated: If you’re feeling nauseous or experiencing altitude sickness symptoms, try to rest in a shaded area and drink plenty of water.
Descend to a lower altitude: If your symptoms persist or worsen, consider descending to a lower altitude as quickly as possible, as altitude sickness can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Seek medical attention: If your condition is severe, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your tour guide or travel company may have a medical professional on standby or be able to help you arrange transportation to a medical facility.
Take preventative measures: If you plan to visit a high-altitude destination, it’s a good idea to acclimatize yourself gradually and stay hydrated to prevent altitude sickness. It’s also a good idea to bring medications and first aid supplies with you on your trip.


What is the oxygen level at Rainbow Mountain?

The oxygen level at Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca, can vary depending on the altitude and weather conditions. Rainbow Mountain is located in the Andes Mountains in Peru and its summit reaches an elevation of 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) above sea level. At this altitude, the air pressure is lower and the amount of oxygen in the air is reduced, which can make it difficult for some people to breathe.
The oxygen level at Rainbow Mountain is approximately 40% lower than at sea level, which means that visitors may experience altitude sickness symptoms such as headaches, shortness of breath, and dizziness. It is recommended that visitors to Rainbow Mountain acclimate themselves to the altitude by spending a few days in Cusco or other nearby areas before attempting to hike to the summit. Additionally, it is important to stay hydrated and avoid alcohol and strenuous physical activity in order to minimize the risk of altitude sickness.


What should I pack for Rainbow Mountain Peru?

  • Waterproof and windproof outer layer.
  • Long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect against the sun and cold.
  • Warm hat and gloves.
  • Hiking boots.
  • Passport or ID (a Copy is good enough).
  • 20 – 40 liter backpack to carry your essentials.
  • Sunscreen high SPFprotection.
  • Sunglasses with 400 UV protection.
  • Personal medications.
  • Personal toiletries and hand sanitizer.
  • Trekking poles (if you’re comfortable using them).
  • Water bottle.
  • Snacks and energy bars.
  • Cash.
  • Camera or smartphone.
  • Coca candies or gum (helpful for altitude).


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Vinicunca full day tour
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