For the most adventurous travelers, Cusco gathers some of the most exciting attractions in Peru. This famous region is home the most sought after natural wonders, like the Rainbow Mountain. However, this attraction is definitely not for the fainthearted since it is located at 5,200 meters above sea level.
But what if we tell you there’s a more friendly and less extraneous walk to get to a not-so-touristy alternative to the Rainbow Mountain? Palcoyo is the perfect destination for those looking to experience a valley full of vivid colors and three imposing colored mountains without having to deal with the crowds.
The Palcoyo Mountain is located 100 kilometers away from the city of Cusco at 4,900 meters of elevation. The trek takes approximately 1 hour and it’s not as physically demanding as the walk up to Vinicunca.
This dream-like scenery owes its colors to the mineral concentration in its soil which grants different tones to the sandstones. The Rainbow Mountains in Peru are surely geology gems hidden in the heart of the Peruvian Andes.
It wasn’t until 2015 that the Peruvian government started promoting tourism to these attractions. However, they have always existed but were covered in snow that later melted due to climate change, revealing their authentic colors.
In addition to the Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain, this region gathers even more attractions like Red Valleys and Stone Forests that surely complements its natural beauty. Therefore, if you’re planning to travel off the beaten path, this location must be on your bucket list.
Palcoyo is located within the Andes mountain range, meaning that it enjoys the characteristic weather of this region. The Peruvian Andes are well-marked for two stationary seasons, a dry winter and a significantly wetter summer.
- Rainy Season: It starts in December and ends around April, temperatures range between 15°C during day time and 4°C in the evenings. However, rainfall intensifies between January and March, being these the rainiest months of the year.
- Dry Season: Takes place between May and October, these are the coldest months of the year. Temperatures may drop below 0°C and there are no chances of rain during this period.
To help you plan your trip through Peru according to the different climate conditions of its regions, here we’ve gathered some useful information to help you decide when is the best time to travel to Peru.
Altitude Sickness: How to Prevent and Deal with It
The Rainbow Mountain Palcoyo is located over 4,900 meters above sea level. Therefore, some travelers may experience dizziness, tiredness, headaches, and shortness of breath, these are the common symptoms of Altitude Sickness.
The so-called Soroche or Mal de Altura in Spanish is a condition that affects most local and foreign tourists that travel to locations surpassing the 2,500 meters of altitude. However, if you follow these recommendations you may have succeeded with a proper acclimatization:
- Take it easy on the first days. Don’t commit to any physically demanding activities during the first 2-3 days of your stay.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Water will be your best ally to prevent dehydration and altitude sickness.
- Eat a light but high-calorie diet.
- Drink Coca tea or chew Coca leaves. This medicinal plant is known for its healing properties and for helping with acclimatization.
There are some medicines that help to ease altitude sickness symptoms. You can find Diamox or Soroche Pills in almost any drugstore in Peru. However, we recommend consulting with a doctor before taking any of these.
How to Get to Palcoyo?
To visit this not-so-touristy colored mountain, one must be in Cusco. The so-called Imperial City of the Incas is easily accessible by plane, bus, or train. Here are some recommendations regarding transport options:
- Bus to Cusco: This is the perfect travel option for those with a flexible itinerary and plenty of time. Keep in mind that taking a bus ride to Cusco from Lima may take about 22 hours, therefore, we recommend you make stops on the way to visit even more attractions. Learn more about this adventure here! →
- Flight to Cusco: For those with a tight schedule, taking commercial flights might be the most suitable option. That way, you’ll save time and get to know more about the cities you’d like to visit. Find out more here →
- Train to Cusco: Train travel is possible through three of the most in-demand attractions of the Peruvian highlands. The Belmond Andean Explorer connects Arequipa, Puno, and Cusco on a magical ride through the Andes mountain range. Get to know more about it here! →
Once you’ve figured out your transport option for this trip, make sure to book your Palcoyo tour in advance. There are many travel agencies offering this tour with different price ranges, make sure to do your research and find a reliable company for this activity. For more information, please contact our team.
The trek is considered to have an easy-moderate difficulty and only takes from 45 to 60 minutes to get to the summit, where you’ll have an incredible view of this authentic scenery. Some tour operators include breakfast before doing the hike.