If you have any extra time in Cusco before or after your Machu Picchu trip, it’s worth planning in a quick hike up to Peru’s naturally colorful mountains. Millions of years of history have led to a wondrous natural rainbow-like pattern seen on the mountains from terra cotta and lavender to turquoise and gold produced from different minerals in the sedimentary layers.
Difficulty Level: 2-3
This increasingly popular alternative to Vinicunca (the original name of the classic Rainbow Mountain) offers breathtaking views of 3 different colored mountains in Peru. This tour only requires a short 30-minute mostly-flat walk from the vehicle to the mountains with a slight incline to the peak. Spend as much time as you want taking photos at the top.
Difficulty Level: 7-8
The classic Rainbow Mountain hike is not for the faint of heart. Depending on your pace, you’ll be hiking through the Andes for around 1.5 hours, including a decent half-hour uphill. After enjoying the view, you also have the option for another 30-minute hike to the Red Valley nearby before the easier hike back down.
Difficulty Level: 8-9
This 2-day Rainbow Mountain hike involves a full day of hiking and campout in the Andes with a view of Ausangate, the tallest mountain in the department of Cusco. There’ll be around 6 hours of hiking total per day including a trek to the colorful mountains on the second day, which makes this tour the most challenging option of the three.