What to pack for the Rainbow Mountain?
On a 1 day trip to the Rainbow Mountain packing the right gear is essential to enjoying your visit to this magnificent mountain. Located in a remote region 3 hours from Cusco by car, it is necessary to bring all the right things. The hike has become a bucket list item for travelers from around the world. The hike itself will take you from Cusco city with an elevation of (11,152 ft or 3,400m) to the top of the Rainbow Mountain at (17,060ft or 5,200 meters) above sea level. From a hiking perspective that is nearly the same altitude as Everest Base Camp in Nepal (17,598 feet, 5,364 meters). For these reasons you must come prepared. First off before you start packing, making sure you are properly acclimated is key. Altitude sickness happens often to those who don't properly prepare for this. We always suggest that you schedule this hike at the very end of your time in Cusco. Spend your initial days visiting Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, or taking on the lower elevations hikes and adventures in the surrounding area. This will allow your body to acclimate properly, setting you up for a successful hike to the Rainbow Mountain.
Now what to pack for the 1 Day Rainbow Mountain Hike?
ITEMS TO BRING:
1st Layer: Underware
- Long sleeved Thermal Shirt
- Thermal form- fitting pants
2nd Layer: Polar Fleece
- Trekking pants
- Thick socks
- Waterproof Jacket
- Waterproof pants (optional)
- Insulated Jacket
- Cold weather Hat
- Buff/ handkerchief
- Sun hat
- Backpack 20-30 L
- Waterproof cover for backpack
- 1 Liter of Water (per person, minimum)
- Trekking shoes (waterproof and firm)
- Trekking poles Headlamp
- Sunscreen (SPF 50+ recommended)
- Sunscreen lip protector
- Personal Medications
- Motion sickness tablets for van ride
- Camera/ Extra battery
- Personal snacks
- Toilet paper
- Dry change of clothes, shoes and plastic bag to store wet items
- Pillow/ Blanket for van ride (can be left in van while you hike)
- When to go: Best Months are April - October
- Distance: 10 km/6.2 miles
- Difficulty: Challenging
- Hiking Time: 4-5 Hours round trip
- Elevation: Trailhead at Alqatari (4326m/14,189ft) to Rainbow Mountain viewpoint (5050m/16,568ft) - Approx + (725m/2,379ft) elevation gain.
- Highlights: Rainbow Mountain & Red Valley
This trek takes place above 5000 meters; the terrain is challenging, and weather is unpredictable ranging from hot and sunny to rain and wind. Hikers should be in reasonable shape, and healthy. A minimum stay of 2 days in Cusco or the surrounding area is required prior to your hike. Ensure you have proper gear and be prepared for variable weather conditions throughout the day.
All weather conditions are possible any time of year. Temperatures can range from 20-60°F (-6° to 15° C) throughout the year. Afternoon storms are common, which is why on our guided trips we depart very early, ensuring we are down from the mountain before a strong storm rolls in. Seasons also vary weather patterns in these mountains, but the trail can be hiked year round. The best hiking season is April - September as it is the dry season, December - February is considered the rainy season and the weather can be more temperamental.
Now that you are prepared and acclimated we strongly suggest hiring a local guide. Our company offers small group and private treks to the Rainbow Mountain daily. We were the first company to offer trips to this mountain and our guides are extremely knowledgeable and are equipped with 1st aid kits and training & supplemental oxygen tanks along with emergency protocols if a traveler were to get injured or fall ill.
The day hike to the Rainbow Mountain is great if you are short on time. However if you are adventurous and have extra time we strongly suggest booking a multi day hike linking in the Ausangate trail. We offer 2 - 6 day hikes in the region, and it is considered one of the most beautiful multi day hikes in the world. On the multi day trips you ditch the crowds and become immersed in true nature and untouched beauty, think hanging glaciers, remote landscapes, zero people, wild animals (Vicuñas, Andean Geese, condors, hummingbirds, pumas, vizcachas, fox….).