DETAILED INFORMATION OF THE PALCOYO RAINBOW MOUNTAIN
- Driving Distance from Cusco: (76 Miles / 125 KM)
- Driving time: 4 and a half hours one way, including breakfast time for an hour halfway and 4 hours back, including lunch time.
- Elevation of the beginning of the Walk: (15,400 feet / 4,700 masl.)
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Trail: Dirt trail at the beginning, then there is a cobbled trail that runs down one side of the mountain to the last lookout point. It is mostly flat with a gradual ascent. Then to the top, the stone forest site is a zigzag trail of about 200 meters up to the 20 minute walk.
- Hiking distance: (2.5 ML / 4 KM round trip)
- Horse rental: Does not exist.
- Walking time: Walking to the last viewpoint (with some breaks along the way) is approx. 45 minutes. After all, the return to the bus station takes 30 minutes.
- Photo sessions: From time to time, locals appear on the road, walking with an alpaca offering a photo session. In return, they just want a tip.
- Maximum elevation: (16,076 feet / 4900 masl.)
- Tour duration: 10 hours.
- Elevation Difference During Hike: (656ft / 200m)
WHEN WAS THE PALCOYO MOUNTAIN DISCOVERED?
When the number of visitors increased greatly to the mountain of 7 colors in 2017, it was when the residents of Palcoyo (an Andean community) realized that they also had an attraction that resembled the mountain of 7 colors. They had the red mountains of Palcoyo, which only they knew about.
They were organized internally. They understood the benefits that tourism activity brought. They began to promote and open the way to those red mountains, which are three in total and still as a plus it has its stone forest that completes the adornment of the landscape. This is how Palcoyo made himself known during 2018, he went throughout Peru and continued around the world. Thanks to its visitors who increasingly recommended as an alternative walk to the mountain of 7 colors.
WHERE IS THE PALCOYO MOUNTAIN?
Palcoyo Mountain is located a few kilometers further south from the famous Mountain of 7 Colors. In the same mountain range of Vilcanota in the District of Pitumarca province of Canchis, more than 110 km.
Palcoyo the mountain range of colors or the rainbow mountains are a set of 03 mountains that are located in the Andes mountain range, precisely in the district of Checacupe of the province of Canchis in the department of Cusco at a height of 4900 meters above the sea level, framed in almost 9000 hectares of beautiful Andean landscapes, whose attraction lies in the similarity it has to the already famous mountain of colors that is about 20 kilometers away, because like this it has a wide mineral composition that result in multiple colors that together resemble a rainbow whose background is a landscape of snowy mountain ranges to which it once belonged. This impressive attraction is also a gift from global warming, since it was within sight when it thawed.
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN PALCOYO MOUNTAIN
As in the entire region, Palcoyo is governed by the two defined seasons that Cusco has, it is worth emphasizing that the rainy season is between the months of November and the first days of April, the remaining months between the last days of April and the last days of October, the whole region is in a dry and cold period. Thus, also taking into account the 4900 meters at which this place is located, it is normal to find a frozen landscape whose thermal sensation does not exceed 15 degrees even on one of the hottest days.
THE RED RIVER OF PALCOYO
Very close to Palcoyo there is a small tributary of water that during the rainy season increases its flow, dragging with it the reddish earth of the land in which it is located, and with it this river takes on the same coloration that has attracted the attention of many visitors.
Now let’s see what can happen while it rains and snows in Palcoyo. Basically the water begins to bathe the slopes and red hills of those mountains and when they join in the lower part they give life to the red river. Anyone who enters the Palcoyo mountains upon seeing the red river will always stop and take a moment to look at all that beauty because it is nothing more than a must-see and rewarding option.
This coloration lasts according to the intensity of the rain, that is, the more it rains and the more water gathers on the slopes, it can last longer than when it is only moderate rains. Then the river when entering all that valley of Salqa that means indomitable valley, joins the large river of the same name. When mixed with a lot of water it tends to lose that red color that it shows while it is only a small river in the height.
HOW TO GET TO PALCOYO
On your own: If you do not have a vehicle, what you have to do is take a bus in the direction of Combapata, which you can take from the closed house of youth coliseum about 10 minutes from the historic center of Cusco, and after three hours of travel that you will make, when you arrive at the town you must hire a mobility that takes you to the same attraction that is, by a detour from the same town, almost an hour away, once there, make the walk of around 40 minutes and finally contemplate all the beautiful landscape in the relevant time, and return doing the same route until finally reaching the city of Cusco.
Remember that it is pertinent that you start your activity very early in the morning, around 4:30 in the morning. Do not forget to take dried fruit, cookies and water with you, it is very likely that the local food is not the best option.
With the services of a travel agency: With the services of a travel agency you can do this tour quietly, with all services included, there are many companies willing to provide you with the service, in our case we have the following itinerary.
The route that undertakes the journey in the direction of this impressive landscape will begin at approximately 4:00 in the morning, making an approximate journey of 2 hours and 30 minutes to the town of Cusipata where the corresponding food services will be provided. After the prudent time in the establishment, we will continue directly for one more hour passing through the town of Pitumarka to finally enter and shortly after arriving at the main attraction, the colored mountain ranges, a fascinating spectacle, you will not have to do more walking than necessary to properly appreciate the landscape as mobility comes in practice to the same attraction. After a reasonable time in the place, you will return on the same route, making the corresponding stop to have lunch.
The city will be reached by averaging 6:00 p.m.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR VISIT PALCOYO
To make a visit to Palcoyo either on your own or with a travel agency, follow the advice below.
- Wear shoes suitable for walking, or at least thick-soled shoes, the terrain on which the activities will take place is steep and irregular, preferably high-top shoes.
- Do warm-up exercises prior to the start of the walk, this will prevent possible muscle contractions caused by the physical effort that you will make along the way.
- Take into account the prevailing weather at the time you perform the activity, whether it is the rainy season, or the cold period, you should wear something more or less warm, in addition to the rain coat that will be essential, read a little more in detail about the weather in Cusco in the next post.
- About the height of the final destination that we will arrive at, which as we already mentioned is at 4900 meters above sea level, take into account that it is preferable to leave this activity for days after your arrival, imagine your body rising from sea level to 4,900 meters from one day to the next.
- For this reason, we advise you to acclimatize, which implies that you follow up on the effects that the altitude produces on you from the first moment you step on Cusco soil, so that after more than a day of your stay, launch yourself on a new adventure, everything depends entirely on you, each organism is different from another.
- Take something extra to eat, because despite the fact that you have a contracted service, the physical activity you will undergo will expend more energy than usual, and some cookies, water and some dried fruit will be the best answer to your physical needs.
- Bring a change of clothes to use at the end of the activity, as sweating may leave you with a feeling of permanent humidity. It will be very comforting to be able to change at least the clothes that are in direct contact with your body.
- Warm and light clothing is the best response to the changing climate that reigns in Cusco, in such a way that, in any situation, it does not represent a hindrance.
- Use trekking poles, they help a lot with the physical effort you make in the ascent to the Palcoyo Mountain.
- Be sure to use sunscreen, throughout the Cusco region solar radiation is very high and this activity is carried out almost entirely outdoors.
- Do not drink alcohol the day before the activity and get a good night’s sleep to be fully fit.
CAN GO CHILDREN AND OLDER ADULTS?
A walk through the mountains of Palcoyo is ideal for everyone. This place is suitable for children and seniors for a family trip, proposing a walk through Palcoyo would be doing them a favor. It is known that the distance of the walk is less compared to the similar Mountain of 7 colors and therefore less demanding as well. So when you walk the first 30 minutes you will be able to see the three different colored mountains.
To be clear about this distance, in Palcoyo 4 km are covered. In two hours including stops while the mountain of 7 colors requires 6 hours for everything and about 7 km there and back. In case you were still looking for this difference that exists between the two now you already know.
WHAT COLORS MAKE UP THE PALCOYO MOUNTAIN?
The colors that make up the Palcoyo mountain are:
- Fucia pink Mixture of red clay, osfango and reana.
- Whitish Quartz sand and limestone.
- Purple or lavender A mixture of clay and calcium carbonate and silicates.
- Red Argillites and clay.
- Green Clays rich in ferro-magnesium, (mixture of iron and magnesium and copper oxide).
- Yellowish brown, mustard, golden Sulfur calcareous sandstones combined with sulfur.
HOW WAS THE MOUNTAIN OF PALCOYO FORMED?
During the stratospheric formation of the earth, the minerals falling by their own weight, formed layers one on top of the other and in the transformation of the earth with earthquakes and movements of tectonic plates. The sedimentary layers in formation were turned into mountains and slopes, exposed to the elements and from there with the passage of time the oxidized minerals gave attractive color tones as seen today.
WHEN DOES IT SNOW ON THE MOUNTAIN OF PALCOYO?
Knowing this is fundamental, the behavior of the climate in the area where the Palcoyo mountain is located. The snow seasons are generally in the rainy season, which is considered between November and April, but pay close attention to this. The weather is usually changeable at these heights of 4000 meters above sea level, which is why an extemporaneous and unexpected snowfall could occur anticipating November or passing the month of April. From now on we will see what happens when there is rain and snow in Palcoyo, which is not bad at all, but gives rise to a temporary attraction to be able to appreciate it, just join us.
WHAT TO DO IN THE PALCOYO MOUNTAIN?
Visiting the mountains of Palcoyo is also a great experience, of all the attractions that are in Cusco. Here you walk away from the crowds of tourists. Palcoyo is about three red mountains that are distributed a short distance from south to north. All visitors from the beginning of the walk go up a path in the same direction until they reach the viewpoint of the third mountain. From that point there is the possibility to continue walking towards the striking peaks of sharp rock, known as the stone forest and if not only to return by the same path.
If you want to get to the stone forest which is the highest point on this route, 4900 meters above sea level. You must follow the path that leads to it. The walk is partially light, only that to get to the stone forest requires a greater effort, but it is not far, everything is possible. From the top you can see the three mountains together and you have a 360 ° view. If the day is clear, the snowy Ausangate will appear in the distance. So the experience of being in a quiet and serene place is the best. What you will find is the presence of local people dressed in Andean costume with one or two alpacas. If anyone dares to take a picture with them, they can ask for it and in return a small tip.
FLORA AND FAUNA IN PALCOYO
For some, the presence of the alpacas and their beauty, plus the elegant landscape suggests that it is a small paradise. The llamas (lama glama) but mainly the alpacas (vicugna pacos) are the ones that inhabit this area in greater numbers. It is not that they live their wild life, but they are raised by the locals and serves as a livelihood for them. There are also foxes (dusicyon culpaeus) and chinchillas that appear very rarely and birds, such as the Cara Cara (phalcoboenus megalopteros) Huallatas (chloephaga melanoptera) Etc. And speaking of vegetation in Palcoyo and surroundings it can be mentioned about the abundant wild straw (stipa ichu) and grasslands that are food for camelids, also some cacti and all kinds of herbs that grow at ground level.
IMPORTANT INFO OF PALCOYO MOUNTAIN
- Don’t go to the Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain in the afternoon in the rainy season because of lighting. Since the high concentration of mineral. There is a high chance to get stricken by lighting.
- You will enjoy the beauty of the área without flocks of other tourist so that sounds rather appealing to you as well. Of course you will see Quechua-speaking herders tending to their llamas and alpacas grazing on the land. don’t hesitate, just go for this alternative tour- before it is too late.
- The walk grants some spectaculars views of the range. Every 100 meters another gorgeous red or Green valley or unique rock formation is to be seen. This another advantage over Classic Rainbow Mountain; you won’t see one beautiful multi-color Mountain. But Many.
- This tour will also incorporate a cultural stop in Checacupe where our guest can walk across a traditionally created Inca Bridge.
- On the alternative Rainbow Mountain hike, the van stops at 4900m (16.076 ft). From the parking you can already see the colorful mountains and you only have to hike up for another 150m (492 feet)or so, along a nice and easy path.
- If you want a better view, at a slow pace you can reach the viewpoint of the Palcoyo mountain range in 45 minutes.
- If you see the Mountain covered with snow in rainy season, just wait! and the snow will melt. However, If you see Mountain covered with snow in dry season. The snow will melt slow beacuse it is frozen.
- The local community have already organized basic infrastructure to welcome visitors. They have proper toilet!.
- The journey begins at a more “prudent” time, around 5 a.m. It is also a 3.5 hour drive and 3.5 hour return trip.
- It is recommended for all ages and all genres, It is also a great option for those travelling with their kids.
- We don t recommend to go early to Alternative Rainbow Mountain(Palcoyo). when it is cloudy its colors will be dimmer or darker and if the day is sunny it will be vibrant colors.
- It is better to visit Machu Picchu and Cusco first, giving you time to adjust to the mountain air.
- If you’re short on time and want to tick-off impressive landscapes in a hurry without committing to much hiking, then Palcoyo is a very interesting option as a day trip.