We hiked the seven color mountain in August 2022
One of the most beautiful places you can visit in Peru is the seven colored mountain of Vinicunca located in the central Peruvian Andes. This hike with several paths and viewpoints offers a wonderful view of some snow-capped peaks and the colorful, naturally occurring minerals that surround them. From its altitude over 5000 meters above sea level, it is also one of the cooler places to explore during the summer months but is viable to explore year round. The cost as of August 2022 is 25 soles per person to enter the parking lot and hike up to the mountain of seven colors. Some guided tours include this cost and some don’t. Review your tour closely to avoid disappointment.
Taking into account the altitude and preparing accordingly will prevent you from having altitude sickness. It can come on quickly and is accompanied by headache, muscle pain and even nausea. It can be combatted by acclimatizing to the altitude by resting in Cusco for a day or two before the hike. Drinking coca tea and taking altitude sickness pills are your greatest ally and monitoring for symptoms then treating them accordingly can also save a lot of suffering.
So whether you’re in Peru for a short vacation or a longer stay, I would say this hike should be on your list of things to do and is of moderate difficulty due to the altitude. If you plan on going to see the other viewpoints beside the mountain of seven colors, that take you to an elevation similar to the base camp at Mount Everest, we recommend bringing plenty of water, snacks and extra clothing in case you run into any foul weather conditions along the trail such as rain or high winds.
Where is Vinicunca or the mountain of seven colors?
Vinicunca is located in the central Peruvian Andes and is one major mountain. It is about two hours southwest of Cusco and is part of the Cordillera Blanca Mountains, which are a popular destination for hikers. Taking a tour there is the best way to cut costs of taking private transportation there. Many of the tours include a breakfast and lunch buffet as part of the package.
The views from atop this mountain are spectacular with a 360-degree view. Along this hike you will pass several viewpoints that offer breathtaking 360-degree views of Peru or even of other nearby mountains that you can actually see from here. If you choose to stop at any point along the way there are various trails that lead down to your left or right side where you can get closer views of the mountains around Vinicunca. Even through summer months there is still snow on top of some peaks and glaciers visible which makes it all the more amazing because it’s so rare.
How far is the hike to get from the parking lot to the mountain of seven colors?
The hike to the mountain of seven colors is about five kilometres which is a moderate difficulty hike and not recommended for elderly people or those with underlying health conditions unless directed that they can by a doctor. You can either take the first trail or a few other trails from the parking lot to reach this altitude. Beware the pathway can be dusty due to traffic from people and horses though the horse path is separate from other hikers on foot. Using a surgical mask may help with the dust. They also sell scented oil along the path to help with breathing and to ease inhalation of air. The oil is a must-try and your guide will likely have some to try. You may be so exhausted that stopping every 100-200 meters is the only way to make it to the top. The final steps can be gruelling, but the way down is much less stressful.
If I have mobility issues, how can I see the mountain?
It is possible to hire or rent a horse to take the horse pathway up to the mountain of seven colors. Prices can be high for this but are negotiable. Keep in mind that the horses cannot take you up the whole way, and you will have to walk the final 500-700 meters. There are enough horses that you don’t have to arrange transportation ahead of time, but your guide will have contacts to get a horse ready near the parking lot of pickup.
Are there washrooms at the mountain of seven colors?
No washrooms are available at the mountain of seven colors, but there are nearby toilets that are open for use about 1.5 kilometres from the parking lot. The cost to use the washroom was one sole, and they give you toilet paper when paying. Carrying one soles coins will help you to pay, but they will have change for small bills. Be sure to plan accordingly as you cannot use another washroom until coming back down the additional 3 or so kilometres each way.
What do I need to bring for a hike here?
You will need to take the proper clothing and footwear for hiking, though running shoes are possible to do the hike in. In a small backpack, you will need to bring plenty of water, snacks and sunscreen. The sun can be scorching year round and having some on hand will save you a bad burn. Having your altitude sickness pills and paracetamol are also very important. Aside from this, don’t forget your camera or phone to take photos and a mask for the bus if you are irritated by the dust in the air. The dust can get all over your legs and most bus drivers appreciate you cleaning it off before getting back in their bus or van.
Is there anything more to see on the hike than the 7 color mountain?
The seven colored mountain is a highlight of this hike, but there are other sights along the way, such as different mountain ranges and breathtaking scenery, nearing the same altitude as the base camp at Mount Everest (5364m). Many of the locals consider the other viewpoints as much more surreal and picturesque so be sure to ask your guide how to get there. Simply put, when coming back down from rainbow mountain, look for the trail to the left, just below where the horses can no longer pass. The other viewpoints to see show an area akin to the surface of Mars (which is vibrantly red from minerals in the ground there). Be sure to have extra soles to pay for these routes (10 soles to enter the trail then 10 more to see the final viewpoint, all per person costs). You’ll be trekking for about 3-4 hours total to get to the top of the mountain and doing the hike to the additional two viewpoints can add another hour or hour and a half.
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