Rainbow Mountain

Peru's 'Vinicunca' (Rainbow Mountain) and the 'Camino del Apu Ausangate' lodge to lodge trek

The beautiful coloured striations of Rainbow Mountain in Peru's Andes are a spectacular sight, and undoubtedly the highlight of the lodge to lodge trek in Peru. Here we're telling you all about why the region is such a special place to visit, and why we think it should be on every outdoor enthusiast's bucket list.

Rainbow Mountain Colours

The beautiful colours of Vinicunca (Rainbow Mountain).

The 'Camino del Apu Ausangate'

The 'Camino del Apu Ausangate' is a traditional hiking route in the Peruvian Andes, and roughly translates as 'the way of the life giver'. The region is a sacred place to Peruvians, and 'Vinicunca' (Rainbow Mountain), along with Ausangate, are the most significant mountains in the region, believed to be the deity of Cuzco, and the region's life-giver, respectively.

The hiking route varies in length there are several recognised start and end points for the trip - on our 'Alpaca' adventure, we take in a two-night-three-day section of the beautiful trail, starting near the Ausangate Community close to the small town of Chillca, and finishing in Ollantaytambo. Our 'Alpaca' trip also visits Machu Picchu as part of a packed 10-day Peru itinerary.

Find Out More About our 'Alpaca' Trip

The Lodges ('Tambos')

Along the way we'll stay in 'Tambos', traditional, comfortably appointed mountain lodges designed specifically for hikers passing through the region.

Huampococha Lodge apu ausangate trek hike rainbow mountain

Huampochoca Lodge, the location for our second night on the Apu Ausangate trail (image courtesy of andeanlodges.com).

The lodges on the hiking route have no electricity, so gas lamps are used for lighting, and gas stoves for cooking. Whilst we're on the trail, daily meals will be prepared by experienced chefs who love introducing guests to the huge variety of Peruvian dishes and produce. Our evening meals will be served at the lodge, and will be accompanied by authentic music played by locals - sure to liven up the 'tambo' experience!

Find Out More About Accommodation on our Adventures

apu ausangate trek hike lunch

The lunch tent on the Apu Ausangate Trek, ready to welcome hungry hikers!

The lack of electricity in these quaint, hidden mountain lodges add to the feeling of escape and seclusion in this beautiful part of the world. This place and these lodges are the perfect opportunity to switch off from life in the 'real world', appreciate the beauty of the natural environment, and connect to the spiritual significance of the area.

Read Reviews of our Adventure Trips

What causes the colouring of 'Vinicunca' (Rainbow Mountain)?

 The incredible colours of Rainbow Mountain are caused by a very specific set of mineralogical and climatic conditions - both past and present. The subduction of the Nazca plate beneath the South America plate caused signifcant volcanic activity in the process of creating the Andes range, and along with that came a wide variety of minerals.

Rainbow Mountain Horse Man

A local man pausing to enjoy the stunning colours of Vinicunca.

The dominant red colour of the landscape infers iron oxide rust is present - that tells us iron-rich sediments, when exposed to oxygen and water, rust, just like a nail does! The other colours are an indication of other mineral deposits, and the colouring is, in many cases, due to the tectonic activity and movement of the landscape's layers over time, and each mineral's interaction with others present in the geology. So in simple terms: red - iron oxide (rust!) yellow - iron sulphide, green - chlorite, brown - geothite or oxidised limonite.

More useful information:

 

 

  • Peru Lodge to Lodge Trek - Alpaca

    10 Days  | 

    Peru  | 

    US$5399

    ACTIVE 5
    • ACTIVE 1

      What's The Rush?

      I’m not a triathlete, but I’m in decent shape and I’m not looking to experience a place just through a bus window. I’m happy to slow down on the trail, soak it in and breathe in the fresh air.


    • ACTIVE 2

      Leg Stretcher

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they’re even worn in, but they don’t go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.


    • ACTIVE 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation so that I can eat and drink what I like without feeling guilty. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.


    • ACTIVE 4

      Challenge Accepted

      I’ll let my trusty guides sweat the small things, so I can focus on my goal. Getting to the top, reaching the end, achieving my dreams! Sure, it’ll be tough, but the views will be worth it.


    • ACTIVE 5

      The Ultimate

      I’ve put in the hard yards and now I get to reap the rewards. I’m a seasoned adventurer, not afraid to get my boots wet.


    • Read more about the Active Range

    5.00 out of 5 (from 3 reviews)

    Immerse yourself in Peru's cultural richness, explore the Pisac Ruins, Rainbow Mountain and take a comfortable alternative route to Machu Picchu, via the Classic Inca Trail.

  • Titicaca and Bolivia Adventure - Chinchilla

    10 Days  | 

    Peru  | 

    US$3999

    ACTIVE 2 - 3
    • ACTIVE 1

      What's The Rush?

      I’m not a triathlete, but I’m in decent shape and I’m not looking to experience a place just through a bus window. I’m happy to slow down on the trail, soak it in and breathe in the fresh air.


    • ACTIVE 2

      Leg Stretcher

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they’re even worn in, but they don’t go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.


    • ACTIVE 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation so that I can eat and drink what I like without feeling guilty. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.


    • ACTIVE 4

      Challenge Accepted

      I’ll let my trusty guides sweat the small things, so I can focus on my goal. Getting to the top, reaching the end, achieving my dreams! Sure, it’ll be tough, but the views will be worth it.


    • ACTIVE 5

      The Ultimate

      I’ve put in the hard yards and now I get to reap the rewards. I’m a seasoned adventurer, not afraid to get my boots wet.


    • Read more about the Active Range

    4.45 out of 5 (from 22 reviews)

    There's so much more to Peru than Machu Picchu - the Chinchilla is our multi-activity, cultural immersion of Peru and its beautiful neighbour - Bolivia.

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Jaguar, November 2016

    This trip truly was an 'active adventure', and exceeded my expectations in so many ways.
    Peru is such a beautiful country, rich in history, and culture. All of our guides were superb, but Erick as our trip host absolutely made this trip worry free, a true learning experience, and SO much fun! If it's all in the details, Erick and Active covered them all and more!
    I arrived as a solo traveler and left having made friends and memories that I will treasure always.
    Thank you Active Adventures, until next time!
    Sandra Datoff Review Image
    – British Columbia, Canada
    Jaguar 2017, December 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Condor Nov 16

    have used Active in NZ for Rimu trip and Condor trip lived up to expectations. It's some of the simple things like size of groups, quality of guides etc that make the difference for me. The sorting out of tips and meals just makes for an easy time as I travel for the trekking not the organising :-) good stuff active. Thanks
    Bob Sewell Review Image
    – Essex, United Kingdom
    Condor, December 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Condor 2018

    This IS the trip of a lifetime! The itinerary is excellent, including the highlights of Patagonia and more! Trip logistics are well planned and expertly executed. Our guide, Arturo was one step ahead at all times and clearly has developed relationships with all hotels, refugios, restaurants and especially our local guides, creating incredible, seamless travel. The local guides, Cem (Jim) on the W Trek, Christian in El Chaltan, our drivers and specific activity guides were all excellent and willing to share their knowledge and love for their countries. This trip was FUN, Arturo is fun and all the new friends we met on our trip were fun!!!
    Cindy Jacobs Review Image
    – Maine, United States
    Condor, March 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Whoa! What an incredible trip!

    There aren't any words that could properly prepare you for what is in store. Patagonia was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

    Cynthia was an amazing guide, she took such good care of us! She routinely went above and beyond to ensure we were safe, happy, healthy and well fed. What a gem she was! And on top of being great at her job, she's just an awesome person, fun, smart, flexible, just the kind of person you want touring you around the edge of the earth for 2 weeks.

    The trip itself was absolutely breathtaking. No photo could do that place justice. The W trail was an amazing hike full of ever changing views (and lots of wind!). Definitely, pay the extra to do the Grey Glacier hike! It was a trip highlight!

    Get ready to take your jacket on and off more in one day than you would over the course of a month back home :) Everything they say about the weather is true. You are at the mercy of the elements, but for the most part, we lucked out with weather (and when we didn't Cynthia always had a plan B).

    I'm so glad we did this! We will definitely be touring with Active again. Those folks do a stellar job of setting you up for an exciting adventure.
    Celeste Olds Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Condor, December 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Nov. 2017 Condor trip with Cynthia

    What an awesome trip with one of the best guides ever. I would highly recommend this to all. The scenery was amazing, the activities were sweet, and the places stayed were top notch especially the one in El Calafate. The Refugio's were nicer than expected with ok food.
    Jim Gray Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Condor, December 2017

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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