Rainbow Mountain VS Palccoyo. This post is curated to give you an insight to both popular tourist attractions. You can choose which one is ideal to visit.
Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain is more visited than Palccoyo on a full day tour. Until early 2016, it was covered in snow and people did not know about its existence. When the snow started to melt, gradually the color started appearing. It quickly got a deserving attention and became a popular full day trip from Cusco City.
Most travellers prefer visiting Vinicunca as it involves a hike off the beaten path of the Peruvian highland region. This gives an opportunity to get an insight to the life and culture of the Andean communities here.
In addition to the Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain, the region is also popular with the red valley. On a full day hike from Cusco, you can visit both Rainbow Mountain and the Red Valley.
Duration of Hike: 2 Hours each way | Highest Point: 5200 metres (17060 feet) | Highlights: Rainbow Mountain & Red Valley
The Alternative Rainbow mountain (Palccoyo) is an ideal choice for those wanting to see the most without much of a hike.
Popularly known as the Rainbow Mountain Tour (instead of trek), Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain Tour is an easier option. You will be driven to the trailhead which is just 200 metres lower than the summit. From the trail head, it is an easier and a comfortable hike.
On this tour, you will also get to see the colonial town of Checaupe. It is home to a colonial church and a rope bridge that resembles the Qeswachaka Bridge. However, the bridge here was built during the colonial era and not by Incas.
You will also get an insight to the life of the Andean community. They have preserved their age old traditions and continue to talk in Quechua.
The hike from the trailhead to the summit takes you through the stone forest or bosque de piedras. Here you will get to see natural stone formations.
Often Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain tour is operated in a small group of 6-7 travellers.
Duration of Hike: 45 minutes each way | Highest Point: 5000 metres (16404 feet) | Highlights: Checacupe, Stone Forest and Rainbow Mountain
These Are Few Things That Make Rainbow Mountain So Special:
Both Vinicunca and Palccoyo are part of the Peruvian Andes. It is subject to two seasons, wet season and dry season. It is highly recommended to visit the Rainbow Mountains during the dry season – between March and November.
These are Few Things that Make Palccoyo Mountain So Special:
The Palccoyo, alternative Rainbow Mountain Peru hike is relatively easier, particularly if you have done hikes earlier. The path is flatter. The duration is shorter. You only need to hike around 45 minutes in comparison to 2 hours each way in the Rainbow Mountain.
When discussing Vinicunca and Palccoyo, distance doesn’t look relatively different but the elevation is the main factor here. Every single kilometre matters at such an elevation.
The hike up to Vinicunca can be difficult and long, and the height can result in problems for some. The route to Palccoyo is simpler, flat and shorter.
Also, as Palccoyo, Alternative Rainbow Mountain Peru is a new route; you will most likely have few members in your group. You will get the opportunity to click better pictures than Rainbow Mountains.
If you do not like crowded areas, you can visit the Palccoyo Rainbow Mountains instead of the classic Rainbow Mountain. Here you will be able to avoid massive amounts of tourists.
Both Rainbow Mountains are at a high altitude. It is highly recommended to spend a few days in Cusco to avoid altitude sickness.