Rainbow Mountain (correctly Vinicunca) is an amazing sight and deservedly an Instagram sensation.
Rather than cram the hike into an insanely long day trip out of Cusco, we combine it with a day exploring the South Valley - our favourite local secret - plus a day experiencing local life with the charismatic villagers of Raqchi.
This trip has it all - history, hiking and authentic cultural encounter!
Maximum group size:
3 3 days
oCulture & FoodzOutdoorsFHike
The trip in detail
The Valle Sur, just outside Cusco, is one of our favourite places to take our guests, because it offers a one-day snapshot of the incredible variety of this whole region. We’ll meet a brujo (witch) who can read your future in coca leaves, and see how bakers create the area’s famous chuta bread. We’ll explore two charming, little- visited ruins: the Inca agricultural laboratory Tipón, with its still-working terraces and panoramic views, and Pikillacta, ‘the flea village’, which was home to 10,000 members of a pre-Inca tribe known for abundant procreation!
We’ll check out the church of Andahuaylillas, so elaborate it’s known as the Sistine Chapel of the Americas, and the deliberately-deformed skulls of departed Inca nobles displayed in the museum next door.
Late this afternoon we’ll arrive at the village of Raqchi, home to a group of gracious, funny people we’re proud to call our friends. They’ll open their homes and lives to you, giving you a unique insight into traditional Andean life.
Meals: Lunch and dinner included
Accommodation: Homestay in Raqchi
There’s lots to do in Raqchi. This morning we’ll explore the weird, alien-looking ruin that towers over the town, plus the surrounding countryside and the (extinct!) volcano of Kimsach’ata.
This area was home to the Pukara people, who are recognised for having developed the world’s earliest artistic tradition. They made ceramics, and the tradition continues today – many of the pots, cups and ornaments you’ll see on sale throughout Peru are made in Raqchi. If you’d like to, you can try your hand at the potter’s wheel in a backyard pottery studio. Worst-case scenario is hilarious, messy fun – and with luck, you’ll end up with a pot you made yourself as a souvenir of your trip.
Today we’ll also have the privilege of attending a ch’alla, or payment to the Earth – a ceremony of propitiation of Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) held regularly by an ostensibly Catholic community, and a very good example of the paradox at the heart of Andean religion.
Meals: All meals included
Accommodation: Homestay in Raqchi
Today we'll hike Rainbow Mountain. Known locally as Vinicunca, this mountain offers a challenging day hike to an amazing mountain where a combination of sedimentary layers and erosion has created a colourful spectacle.
It's a challenging 15km hike to an altitude of 5,200m (17,060ft) - over a rough trail, so please come ready to hike! This evening we'll be back in Cusco in time for dinner.
Accommodation at Raqchi (based on twin-share. Single Supplement available for US$60)
All ground transport (private vehicle)
All activities and attractions specified in itinerary
Dedicated Aspiring Adventures guide
All meals (two breakfasts, three lunches, two dinners)
Saddle mule for emergency use on hike
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
Tip for your guide and driver
In Raqchi we stay in humble family homes. Here, conditions are basic, and hygiene may not be what you are used to at home, but any slight discomfort you experience will be well compensated for by this incredible insight into a very different way of life.