Vinicunca, also known as Montaña Arco Iris (Rainbow Mountain), is an amazing natural formation that is shown along the Vilcanota Mountain chain. It is usually part of the attractions where people walk on the routes surrounding the Apu Ausangate. In the Andean World, the Ausangate Mountain is considered as the Sacred Mountain or the Spirit Mountain, and it has been a place of veneration and cult since the pre-Incan era, tradition that continues until today. In this route, you will walk over 4,000 meters above sea level, and all along this path, you can enjoy extraordinary landscapes, small communities, typical flora and fauna of the area and, specially, the company of the Apu Ausangate, which will be seen from several locations along the route. The snow-capped Ausangate is the highest peak in the region of Cusco (6,385 metres above sea level). This route is available from April to October and is a challenge; therefore, it is suggested for everyone who loves trekking and has trekking experience.
Pick up from your hotel in Cusco. We will depart in private transportation heading South Valley, reaching the community of Checacupe after 2 hours, where we will take the opportunity to visit its Colonial Temple, a real gem, a relic of Catholicism. It has a Renaissance style main altar, which calls the admiration of all who visit this place. According to Chronicler Cieza de Leon, it is known as the “Sistine Chapel of America” due to its colonial and mixed architecture. Its construction dates back to the sixteenth century until the early Eighteenth century. Among the different canvases decorating the temple, there is a beautiful display of original paintings of the “Cusquenian School”. After visiting the site, we will continue to the community of Pitumarca, considered one of the most important centers of native Andean textile, because it has the raw materials such as wool of alpaca, vicuna of the highland communities and of sheep in the village. The villagers use this material to manufacture their native dresses through an ancestral technique such as the back strap loom “Awana”.Artisan farmers manufacture their chullos, ponchos, chuspas, blankets, vests, chumpi, etc.
After enjoying lunch, we will continue on the drivable dirt road, reaching the town of Quesiuno after 1 hour (4,326 m.a.s.l.) arriving at the community, you will be conducted to Inkintuyoc Bridge, where there are muleteers and mules waiting for us, who will carry the camping equipment for our overnight stay.
We will start the trekking along the path of a beautiful stream. As we ascend, you will enjoy beautiful landscapes and you will see herds of Andean camelids such as llamas and alpacas. The highest snow-capped mountain in the region, the “Apu Ausangate”, will show its majesty and you will be captivated by this mystical place, filled with magic and energy. Then, we will interact with the villagers in the area to learn a little about their daily lives. After approximately 1 hour and a half of trekking, we will reach the sector Llamachimpana, where we will set our camp.
Foods: Snack / Lunch / Tea Time / Dinner
Minimum height of the route: 4,326 m.a.s.l. Maximum height of the route: 4,450m.a.s.l.
Travel distance: 5 km / 3.05 miles
Walking time to the campsite: 2 and half hours approx.
After having a healthy and energetic breakfast, we will begin the ascent to the Vinicunca Mountain. Along the path, we will see different crop fields that are active in the area, especially potatoes and its different varieties. You might also see wildlife such as chinchillas, vicunas, and huallatas and, if we are very lucky, the Andean cat, known as the “Osqoyllo”, species that is in danger of extinction.
After walking three and a half hours approximately, you will come to the top to enjoy the main attraction of this experience: Vinicunca, The Rainbow Mountain (5,020 m.a.s.l.) At this location, you will participate in a small Andean ceremony with coca leaves that are offered to the Apu in gratitude for allowing you to reach the place successfully. Then, you will have enough time to explore the area, take pictures and take a break to recover energy so you can start the descent.
After the visit, and once it is time to start descending by the same route we used to get there, we will return to the base camp. After 3 hours of walking, you will have lunch, and later, you will continue towards the Inkintuyoc Bridge, where you will take the transportation that will take you back to Cusco. After 3 hours of travel, you will be arriving in Cusco between 5-6pm.
Foods: Breakfast / Snack / Lunch
Minimum height of the route: 4,326 m.a.s.l. Maximum height of the route: 5020 m.a.s.l.
Travel distance: 10 km
Approximate walking time: From campsite, Ascend 3 – 4 hours / Descent 4 – 5 hours. (The time depends on the physical condition of the passenger).