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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

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.

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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:


  • Alpaca Peru Lodge to Lodge Trek

    • 10 Days
    • Peru
    • US$5399

    The ‘Alpaca’ is 10 days of bucket list hikes and cultural sites in Peru. It captures everything this beautiful country has to offer, from the towering peaks of the Andes and Machu Picchu, down to the thriving town of Aguas Calientes (meaning ‘hot waters’ or ‘hot springs’), once a small railway workers’ camp.

    You’ll have a blast in this land of geographical and cultural wonders. We start our trip in the heart of the Inca empire where we explore fortresses and surrounding valleys. We’ll hike over stunning mountain passes from lodge to lodge, and on to Machu Picchu via a short version of the Inca Trail. The variety of landscapes on this trip will give you a Peruvian adventure like no other – and an experience you’ll never forget!

    For a great way to see Lake Titicaca and the Bolivian salt flats too, combine this trip with our Titicaca and Bolivia 'Chinchilla' - chat to our team to learn how!

  • Chinchilla Titicaca and Bolivia Adventure

    • 10 Days
    • Peru
    • US$3999

    4.56 out of 5 (from 18 reviews)


    The ‘Chinchilla’ is an adventure packed with cultural richness. The vivid colours of the traditional Andean costumes are in stark contrast to the muted highlands, where Peruvian and Bolivian communities etch their existence. Make no mistakes though, these are among some of the most content people you’ll meet, happy in their way of life largely unspoilt by first world influence.

    On this trip you’ll tick off the world’s highest navigable lake, the higest city and the largest salt flat. In true 'Active’ style you’ll experience it all with a mixture of hikes, a stint on the bike and of course, with a kayak paddle in hand. We’ve designed the ‘Chinchilla’ to work in seemlessly with our other Peru adventures, so chat to us if you’re interested in a combination trip option.

    For a great way to see Machu Picchu and the Amazon Jungle as well, combine this trip with our Ultimate Peru Adventure 'Jaguar' - chat to our team to learn how!

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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