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From Cusco to Rainbow Mountain
Cerro Vinicunca, located in the department of Cusco, and with an altitude of 5,200 metres above sea level, owes its name to the Quechua words «WINI» for the rounded stone shapes and «KUNKA», which means neck, because of the narrowness of the hill that looks like a pass neck.
According to Cesar Muñoz, who is part of the Geological Society of Peru (SGP), he indicates that its colours are due to the oxidation of the minerals that make up the mountain; red clays, limestone, silicates.
The mountain is located about 100 km from the city of Cusco, in the community of Pampachiri, bordering the districts of Pitumarca and Cusipata, in the provinces of Canchis and Quispicanchi.
From Cusco, there are buses departing from the coliseum on Huayruropata Avenue to the town of Pitumarca at a cost of 5 soles, and the journey takes between 3 and 4 hours. Upon reaching the town of Pitumarca, we recommend taking a break before continuing to Anchipacha (4,200 meters above sea level). The journey takes a few minutes, and there are taxis that can accommodate multiple passengers at an approximate cost of 10 soles.
In ANCHIPACHA, you buy the tickets for the VINICUNCA mountain, and the ascent lasts between 2 to 3 hours. With a cost for the national tourist of 5 soles and 10 soles for the foreign tourist.
Visiting the Mountain with a Tour
There are options offered by the historical centre of Cusco, where several agencies offer their services. They offer 1 day tours, where meals, entrance fees and tour guides are offered. These tours start between 3 and 4 in the morning and usually end between 7 and 8 in the evening of the same day.
And if you don’t feel up to the 5 km walk, you can hire a horse to make the journey easier for about 100 soles.
When to travel?
It is preferable not to make the trip between NOVEMBER and APRIL, as it is the rainy season in the highlands. We recommend to make the trip in the dry season between MAY and SEPTEMBER, but it is at the traveller’s discretion and availability.
Prices to Vinicunca Mountain or Rainbow Mountain
Of course, the price will depend on the services you hire. However, the prices can be between 100 to 300 soles; but many tourists recommend to hire an agency specialized in tours, preferably in the city of CUSCO.
WHERE WAS THAT MOUNTAIN?
Many agree that climate change helped to unveil the Cerro Vinicunca. Elderly people living in PITUMARCA affirm that 60 or 70 years ago, those peaks were covered with snow.
Consequently, by being uncovered; and the promotion of social networks, the mountain has become a tourist destination in just a few years.
IMPORTANCE OF VINICUNCA
The mountain of colours, according to the governor of CUSCO, is the second most visited destination in PERU with half a million visitors. The director of the Regional Directorate of Foreign Trade and Tourism (Dircetur), indicated that a great diffusion was made.
Even NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC has a photo section where you can see different angles of the mountain. We can also add that once at the top, you can appreciate the snowy AUSANGATE, perfect for photographers.
Now they are talking about at least 1,000 people a day coming from CUSCO. To gain access you have to pay about 10 soles or 3 dollars and; Gabino Huamán, a Pampachiri leader, admits that they are not prepared to deal with so many tourists, and that many do not speak English; nor do they know first aid.
These national and foreign tourists have brought some economic prosperity to the area. Around 500 inhabitants have returned to work as tour guides.