Right after the launch of the Classic rainbow mountain to the world, the Palcoyo Mountain Peru resonated in the world of tourism as well. Located in these arid regions deep into the mountains of Cusco Perú. Similarly, to the rainbow mountain. The locals of the Palcoyo community decided to open up and show the world what they possessed. These beautiful rolling mountains, striped, three in total looking exactly like the famed rainbow mountain also have captivated visitors from all around. This is the one-day Palcoyo Mountain exploration guide and joins us.
Table of contents
- Driving distance from Cusco: (76 Miles /125 KM)
- Driving time: 4 hours one way, including breakfast time for one hour on halfway and 4 hours for coming back also including lunchtime.
- Entrance fee: S/ 15/ $ 4.5
- Base elevation: (15,400 ft. / 4,700 masl.)
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Trail: Dirt path trail at the beginning, then there is a cobblestone path stretching across the one side of the mountain to the last viewpoint. It is mostly flat with a gradual ascent. Then to the summit, the stone-forest site is a switchback trail for about 200 meters up the 20-minute walk.
- Hiking Distance: (2.5 ML / 4 KM round trip)
- Horse rentals: None existent.
- Walking time: Walking to the last viewpoint (with a few breaks along the way) is approx. 45 minutes. After all the return to the bus station takes 30 minutes.
- Photoshoots: Every now and then locals show up on the way, walking with an alpaca offering a photo shoot. In exchange, they only want some tip.
- Top elevation: (16,076 ft / 4900 masl.)
- Duration of the complete day: 10 hours.
- Elevation difference during trek: (656 ft. / 200 m)
WHY IS PALCOYO MOUNTAIN COLORFUL?
The coloration of Palcoyo Mountain Peru responds to a vast amount of minerals on that particular mountain range. Minerals such as iron or sulfur among many others dye the rolling hillsides. The red coloring is due to an iron oxide coating and cementation, also known as hematite, between the sandstone grains. This same process takes place when a construction nail is exposed to the rain for a while and forms a red layer of rust around the outside.
However, there is a set of colors besides only red, the metallic yellow for example, which contains Sulfur and iron sulfide. Meanwhile, green tones come from chlorite or iron silicate clays and whitish tones has to do with quartzite sandstone. Know the sandstones suffered alteration due to the weather conditions for millennia, and it still does suffer at the present day.
PREPARE FOR THE ALTITUDE
Altitude sickness can affect anybody. Even people with a high level of fitness had to struggle when they came up to the Andes Mountains. Now not everyone gets sick at high altitudes, and it is hard to predict who is likely to be badly affected by it. For most travelers, it is nothing more than a headache and a dizzy sensation that diminishes over a short period from one to two days.
We highly recommend getting used to the altitude in the city of Cusco or any other place before hiking the Palcoyo Mountain in Cusco. If you are short on time, talk to your doctor about which lifesaving drugs you should take on your hike for medication. In addition to that, you can also face it by drinking some coca tea, or chewing coca leaves; those are almost in every hotel or restaurant in Cusco. It is pretty hard to avoid altitude sickness but at least you can limit the effects by doing that.
Hiking through the mountains of Peru could mean intense challenges both physically and mentally, but it also offers experiences of a lifetime.
IS PALCOYO MOUNTAIN WORTH IT?
Yes, it is worth it, totally. One American tourist left the following quote “The Mountain is of such a sheer beauty that it will take your breath away”. However, there is a lot more than Palcoyo Mountain, like the Majestic Ausangate glacier glimmering in the distance on good sunny days. The red valleys and amazing landscapes, including meadows, straw huts, alpacas, birds and, all sorts of things in the Andes. A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
WHERE ARE PALCOYO MOUNTAINS?
The Palcoyo Mountain is located in the province of Canchis, Pitumarca district, nearly 76 miles /125 KM southeast of Cusco.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME FOR HIKING PALCOYO MOUNTAIN?
The trekking season in the Cusco region is classified as follows:
The rainy season (December – April)
Indeed, this season offers great landscapes, lush green valleys, and thriving vegetation but it surely brings hailstorms too, at times lightning crashing all over the mountains, and too much rain that can cause even small river flows to grow. That is the rainy season and there is little chance to see the colors of the mountain. Sometimes it may well be under white thick snow and mist of clouds covering it. That would not be good rather it would be a complete waste of your time.
Dry season (May-early October)
These are the days of endless sunshine, offering fantastic views of the mountain peaks under the clear blue skies. The only thing people should care about is the coldness in the mornings and afternoons. At high elevations, the temperature drops dramatically but besides that, the dry season is recommended for hiking in Palcoyo Mountain Peru. November and December are still good seasons hence there is no too much rain yet but that does not mean it will never rain o snow.
PALCOYO MOUNTAIN WEATHER
It all depends on what season it is. The Palcoyo Mountain weather sometimes is very unpredictable, changing often and rapidly. In addition to that, the temperature in the early hours in the mountains can be below freezing too. You might see warm weather and sunny skies one minute and cloudy skies in the next couple of minutes. The best idea is to make sure you are dressed in layers as if for all seasons. Rain jackets are a must, as well as sunglasses, sunscreen, and plenty of water, very important.
ARE THERE RESTROOMS ALONG THE TRAIL?
Yes, firstly, ten minutes before the arrival at a controlled stall there are a couple of restrooms. Then at the parking lot, you can also find restrooms that you can use before the hike. Know the use of these restrooms is S/ 1.00 and make sure to carry a roll of toilet paper with you just in case. There are no restrooms at the top so make sure you use them at the beginning.
THE PILED STONES KNOWN AS APACHETAS
Apachetas are usually on the side of the paths near the mountain passes. They mainly represent the reverence of the Andean natives to nature, offerings to some sort of spirits (Apus) dwelling the mountains whom people claim to receive strength and vigor to climb those hills. When hikers conquer the mountain pass, they tend to add some rock on the initial small apacheta piles. It happens on the way to the rainbow mountain as well.
THE OVERLOOK OF THE AUSANGATE MOUNTAIN
Ausangate is one the fifth highest peaks in Peru and of course the only one standing out in the Cusco region. This giant snowcapped mountain with its 20,900 ft / 6373 masl rises in the Vilcanota mountain range, at 62 miles / 100 Km southeast Cusco.
On a good sunny winter day, part of its top is visible from the city of Cusco. So it is and you have a much closer view if you go on the Palcoyo mountain excursion.
*Winter in Cusco is hot.
STONE FOREST AT THE TOP OF ALL
During palcoyo mountain tour, you will see the colored hills of Palcoyo, the Ausangate, and everything else, there is one more thing to do. It is an extra 20 minutes hike up the hill to enter the stone forest area, 16,076 ft / 4900 masl. It is called that way because there you find big standing sharp rocks giving the illusion of a forest of stone. This extra hike offers the three rainbows all in one picture. That would be the prize.
IS THERE ANY DANGER ON THE HIKING PATH?
As you may be wondering about dangers on the way, there is no danger like snakebite or some other animal attacks. Dogs are so playful but try not to touch them at first. It is a cold environment for the snakes; they would not survive it. However, there are small lizards, mostly between September and October when they hatch, but it is not great danger.
- The earlier you leave Cusco, the better it gets, as you will arrive at the mountain before anyone else.
- Palcoyo Mountain is actually less popular than Rainbow Mountain, which makes it less crowded. As there are three rainbows, you have plenty of time and space for shooting pictures all the time.
- Palcoyo Mountain Peru trail is easy to follow; from the beginning, you can already see the top.
- We recommend you to visit on a sunny day when the colors become the most vivid. When it is raining or misty, colors can turn darker, and it would be hard to avoid disappointment.
- Do not forget that health and safety always go first. If you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, get a headache or feel tired during the trek, do not continue and get back to a lower altitude as soon as possible.
- There are no horse rentals.
- The first rainbow can be appreciated within 15 minutes after the hike.
- The red river flows during the rainy season only.
Biosafety protocol for COVID-19 to visit Palccoyo mountain Peru
- Visits to Palcoyo mountain start at 06:00 am. The site closes at 02:00 pm.
- Groups will have a maximum of 8 people(7 travelers and a tour guide).
- Visitors entering Palccoyo Mountain must wear a mask.
- Visitors should maintain a social distance (of at least 1.5 meters) between two people, as a minimum established by the Ministry of Health.
- visitors will have their body temperature checked at the entrance to Palcoyo Mountain.
- At the viewpoint of the three mountains of Palcoyo, Visitors are allowed only a maximum time of 25 minutes.
- Travel companies, Transport vehicles, and restaurants will only attend with 50% of their total capacity.