How to Hike Rainbow Mountain in Peru

Hiking Rainbow Mountain Peru is one of the most popular day trips from Cusco Peru. There are countless number of tour agencies offering day trips from Cusco if you want to go with a group. But did you know you can also go on your own?

Rainbow Mountain Peru

Going to Rainbow Mountain Peru On Your Own

It’s super easy, so much more convenient, and definitely more comfortable to hike Rainbow Mountain on your own. And if you’re at least 2 people, the price is almost the same. The group tours leave Cusco at 3-4 AM, but if you go on your own, you can sleep in, miss the crowds, and have Rainbow Mountain Peru all to yourself. I highly recommend this day trip from Cusco!

If you want to do this hike on your own, you do need to be prepared. Keep reading below for everything you need to know about hiking Rainbow Mountain on your own.

Read More: Best Things To Do In Cusco Peru

Rainbow Mountain Trailhead and Parking Lot
Rainbow Mountain Trailhead & Parking Lot

Why Hike Rainbow Mountain Peru On Your Own

Sleep in and start fresh

Group tours to Rainbow Mountain leave Cusco at 3-4 AM. If you’ve ever done a group tour like this, you know they give you a window of time in which you’ll be picked up. So you have to be ready at 3 AM, but you could be waiting until 4 AM while they pick everyone else up… Alternatively you’re in the bus driving around for an hour while you pick everyone else up. It’s not the best way to start the day. This is a challenging hike, you definitely want to be well-rested! If you go on your own, you can start at a decent hour and be picked up on time right from your hotel.

Go at your own pace

Many of the reviews we read about group tours to Rainbow Mountain Peru said they felt rushed. It’s not the easiest hike — you’ll probably need to stop for a few breaks and you’ll definitely want to stop for photos! I really didn’t want to feel rushed or pressured — I much prefer to go on my own and go at my own pace!

Skip the crowds

Everyone else goes to Rainbow Mountain at the same time. That means they’re all up at the top at the same time. There isn’t a lot of space at the top (with the best views), and it wouldn’t be pleasant with a huge crowd of people. If you time it right, you can get there just as they’re all leaving.

Pick the day with the best weather!

You definitely want to do this hike on a nice, sunny day. If you go on your own, you can check the weather and decide the day before you want to go. But even if you go to Rainbow Mountain Peru with a group, you don’t need to book in advance. There are many tour agencies in Cusco and you can just pop in and arrange a tour the day before you want to go. Definitely check the weather and choose the best day!

More comfortable drive

The road to Rainbow Mountain is gorgeous. It’s along a canyon rim with beautiful overlooks. You’ll see creeks with rainbow rocks and waterfalls flowing over the road. It’s also steep and narrow. I would not want to do this drive in a giant bus!

Rainbow Mountain Ticket Office

How to Get To Rainbow Mountain Peru

You can hire a taxi for the day to take you to Rainbow Mountain. They will wait for you while you do the hike, then bring you back to Cusco when you’re done.

Here is the exact {GPS Location} of the Rainbow Mountain trailhead and parking lot.

Beginning of the hike to Rainbow Mountain Peru
The trail to Rainbow Mountain. Uphill the entire way, but not too steep.

Hiring a Taxi for Rainbow Mountain Peru

We stayed at the JW Marriott in Cusco and they quoted 300 soles for their taxi service to take us. This gave us a starting point on the price, and we knew could always go that route if we couldn’t find any other way, but we also knew we could most definitely get a better price with a little negotiation.

We hailed a few taxis on the street, talked with them, got their prices, and found one guy that seemed super friendly and happy to take us. He originally quoted 300 soles ($90 USD), but almost immediately went down to 250 soles ($75 USD) when we hesitated on the price. We got his WhatsApp number and booked him for the next day.

Hiking to Rainbow Mountain Peru -- halfway there!
About halfway there!

In contrast, group tours to Rainbow Mountain Peru are around 80 soles ($25 USD) per person, so the price for a private taxi is not that much more expensive, if you have 2 people. And the added convenience and comfort is a thousand times worth the small extra price.

I am not the best at negotiating, so you might could even get a better price. My advice for negotiating is to not say immediately what hotel you want to be picked up from… Just negotiate a price from the center, then give the hotel name after you’ve agreed on the price.

A different angle from Rainbow Mountain Peru

When to Go to Rainbow Mountain Peru

We left Cusco at 7 AM on April 11, 2018. We arrived to the Rainbow Mountain trailhead at 10:30 AM. It took us 2 hours to get to the top. It’s uphill the entire way, but it’s not too steep. However the altitude is very high, and the last 15 minutes were challenging for me. It only took us about 1 hour to go back down.

This was the perfect timing to miss the crowds. We got up to the top just as everyone else was leaving, and we had the top all to ourselves. Such an awesome experience. However for the weather, I was wishing we had left just 1 hour earlier. There was not a single cloud in the sky the whole day…. until we got to the top, then all of sudden it was complete cloud coverage!! However if we’d been there one hour earlier, there would’ve been loads of people at the top, also. Just something to keep in mind.

Rainbow Mountain Peru

Should You Hire a Horse for Rainbow Mountain Peru?

When you start the hike, there will be many guides offering to let you hire a horse to ride up the trail. But keep in mind there are many places where you have to get off and walk anyway because the trail is too steep/narrow for you to ride safely. And you have to walk the last 15 minutes (the most difficult part) on your own anyway.

The trail is not so difficult that you really need a horse, and I prefer to hike, so we didn’t get one. It’s also not that much faster, because the guide has to walk next to you, and you have to get off and on a bunch of times. But the option is there if you want it. Expect to pay around 80 soles, and make sure that price includes there and back! You could also negotiate for one-way.

Read More: Sacred Valley of Peru — 4 Best Places To Go

Rainbow Mountain Peru

Tips for Hiking Rainbow Mountain Peru

Bring you own food

The good thing about the group tours is that they do include breakfast and lunch. If you go on your own, you will have to bring your own food. You can have breakfast at your hotel, but definitely bring something with you to eat right before you start the hike. It takes 3.5 hours to get to Rainbow Mountain Peru, and that’s a long time since breakfast. The hike is 2 hours up and it’s a bit challenging, so you don’t want to attempt it on an empty stomach. Have a few snacks with you in case you need to stop along the way, and pack a sandwich for lunch for when you come down.

Don’t forget water!

Drinking lots of water will help with the altitude. I recommend bringing at least 1 liter per person on the hike with you, and have a extra bottle to leave in the car for when you get back.

Snow at Rainbow Mountain Peru

Wear sunscreen and pack layers

When we were there in April, the hike was very pleasant in the sun. I wore 3/4 length yoga pants with a warm (merino wool) long-sleeve shirt that I could push up the sleeves if it got hot. But the very top of the mountain is cold and SUPER windy. You’ll definitely need a warm jacket up there! I wore these waterproof hiking shoes.

Also you’ll sunburn much quicker at higher altitude, so wear plenty of sunscreen.

Rainbow Mountain Peru

Bring cash & Toilet Paper!

You’ll need to pay 10 soles for the entry fee for the hike. Plus a few coins in case you need to use a bathroom. The port-a-potties at the beginning and end of the trail were free, but it looked like there were some in the middle of the trail that took coins.

Be sure to bring your own toilet paper!!

Rainbow Mountain Peru

Once you’re back in the taxi, on the way down the mountain you may see some school children hitch-hiking. We decided to pick one boy up, and asked our driver to stop. He was probably 10 years old. The boy told us he has to walk to the next village over every day back and forth to school. He said it would take him over an hour to walk home. However he was in the car with us for at least 30 minutes before he told our driver to let him out — I don’t think there’s any way he could’ve done that walk in a hour! So if you see any children hitch-hiking and want to help them, let your driver know it’s okay to pick them up.

Rainbow Mountain Peru

Going to Rainbow Mountain Peru with a tour

If you do decide to go with a group to Rainbow Mountain, I recommend Conde Travel Adventures. Their office is on Portal Espinar, one block over from the Plaza De Armas. You should book with them in person once you get to Cusco, don’t try to book with a company online in advance. If you wait until you get to Cusco, it will be MUCH cheaper.

I booked a hike with them to Humantay Lake another day and had a great experience. I didn’t feel rushed at all!

Read More: Humantay Lake — An Amazing Day Trip from Cusco

Rainbow Mountain Peru

Any questions about hiking Rainbow Mountain Peru?

Thanks so much for reading! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!!

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171 Responses
  1. Diana

    Hi Amanda! Great post and very useful information! Could you please send me your taxi driver’s information?

    thank you so much :)

  2. Jini

    Hi Amanda,
    Thank you for sharing the details. Would you mind emailing the taxi driver’s name and contact number.


  3. Rachel

    I would love the info for your driver as well! We will be there in August and would love to prearrange this and now have to haggle on the streets :) Thanks for all your help!

  4. Brie Hagarty

    Hi Amanda,

    Thank you so much for all of this info, it’s so informative and is making my trip planning so much easier!! I am doing a solo trip in the fall and would love to get in contact with the driver you used!
    If you could kindly send me an email with the info it would be greatly appreciated!!

  5. Darshika Bhogaita

    We are going in July to Peru. Please can you give me the taxi drivers number and also where would I find a taxi driver ( a reliable one) just in case I dont find this particular one. And any other advise you can share I would really appreciate it. Thank you!!

  6. Jennifer Corteo

    Hi Amanda!

    Thanks for the informative post. I will be in Peru in September and am interested in going this route for rainbow mountain. Do you still have the contact of the driver? My Spanish is not great, does he speak some English?



  7. Lindsey

    Hi Amanda thank you for your blog it has helped us prepare for our trip in 4 weeks (excitement level rising)

    Did you pay the taxi driver upon return? I would love to organise this myself but have the unfounded nervousness of them leaving us behind!

    Can you please email me the details of the driver you used?

  8. Jenn

    Hi! I am going to Cusco in May and love your posts!! Will be staying at JW Marriott per your recommendation. We are really interested in how you did the Rainbow Mountain and would love to arrange a driver to drive us there any back so we can do it our own way (ie rested! haha)
    Would you be able to email me the driver’s WhatsApp that you used? I’m sure the driver would love the recommendation and extra $!
    Thanks !

  9. Valori Heitkamp

    Hi we are hoping to come to Peru 2022. Could I get the taco drivers what’s app #? Thanks for the informative post!

    1. Anisha Jain

      So kind of you to make so much effort efforts and share elaborate info and genuine suggestions.. extremely helpful.

  10. Anne

    Great info Amanda! What are your thoughts on doing the two day Rainbow Mountain vs one day? Supposedly you get to see it before crowds get there that way? And you can also go down via the Red Valley which I’ve heard is beautiful? Downside is that you lose another day in Cusco/Sacred Valley area if you do that. 
    Also how did this compare to humantay Lake if you could only do one or the other due to time constraints?

    1. Amanda

      2 days at Rainbow Mountain sounds fun! I would def give up a day in Cusco for a 2nd day at Rainbow Mt.

      Sacred Valley would be harder to give up… :|

      If you can only do Rainbow or Humantay, I say go for Rainbow. I LOVED Humantay, but there are beautiful turquoise lakes all over the world… There aren’t as many rainbow mountains! 

      Have a great trip!!

    2. José Mancilla

      Hi Amanda,

      Would you please send me your driver’s phone number? Appreciate all the info, it was very helpful!

    3. Brian Saylors

      Will be traveling to Peru in late March-early April to hike Inca trail as everyone has stated would you please give me the number of the taxi driver you used for both humanity and rainbow mountain my 17-year-old son and I love doing things on our own vs tours.

      Very respectfully,


    4. Jeannette

      Hello! Thank you for the great review and advise. Can you please share you taxi driver as well. We will visit in March. Also would you recommend face protection from the wind at the top?. Is it that bad ? We are taking two little hikers with us as well and I want them to be warm and happy hikers. Thank you!

    5. Juni

      Hi Amanda

      we will go in June cant wait! Would you please send me your taxi driver’s phone number? Appreciate all the info, it was very helpful

  11. Brenn

    I’ve been researching blogs for weeks now for my upcoming trip to Peru and yours is BY FAR the most informative and practical! I really appreciate all your advice and insights. Would you mind emailing me your taxi drivers Whatsapp number for Rainbow Mountain and Humantay Lake (if different)? :) Thank you so much!

  12. Steelie Runion

    Would you please forward me the information for your driver? My husband and I are here in Cusco this week and would love to do something like this.

    1. Kimberly Lavoie

      I’m so excited to go. Thanks for all the information . Any suggestions on any romantic places to stay? First part of our trip is a birthday surprise

  13. Claire

    Thank you so much for all this helpful information! Would you mind sharing the number of your taxi driver? We are also planning on going there by ourselves! Thanks a lot

  14. Jose B San Juan

    Very informative. I was actually concerned of the early pick up at the hotel. I am traveling with my daughter and she is not into waking up in the middle of sleep to take a tour. thank you.

  15. Cindy

    Hi Amanda! 
    This was really great information! Thank you for sharing it! 
    Would you mind also sharing your taxis driver information please ?

  16. Leonie

    Hey, thank you for your post. If I leave on one of the tours at 3 or 4 am, at what time would I be back in Cusco? Would I be able to make it to the 7pm bus headed to Arequipa or is that a bit too risky?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Amanda

      You are usually back around 5 or 6 PM, but I don’t know if I would risk it just in case anything goes wrong! At least talk to the tour company once you get in Cusco and see what they say. Have a great trip!

  17. wenjing zou

    Hi Kevin/Amanda,

    This is a really helpful post. we are currently in cusco and planning the trip for next Sunday. do you mind sharing the taxi driver’s information as well and does he speak English? thank you!

    1. Amanda

      Of course! I will email you. He does not speak English, but he is very reliable. You can communicate with him through WhatsApp using Google Translate. Have a great trip!

    1. Amanda

      No, not really! The closest small town would be Pitumarca. It’s about 1.5 hours away.

      If you google “Restaurant hospedaje EL LOCAZO” this is a restaurant in the closest small village before you get to the mountain. It’s about a 25 minute drive away from where you start the hike. If you speak Spanish, you might find a family here willing to host you in their home. But I wouldn’t expect a private room, freshly washed sheets, or indoor plumbing!

  18. Lucie

    Hi Amanda, thank you for your post. We would like to visit Vinicunca and Palccoyo on Decemeber. Could you please share with us your taxi driver contact? Thank you Lucie

  19. Margarita

    Thank you very much for your post and advise taxi idea sounds very reasonable and like every one else I ask for the taxi number

  20. Sylvie Rheault

    im going to do the mountain in november 2019….if it rains is it still nice to visite?
    im wondering about washrooms..:) on the way up..

  21. Jigme

    Amanda, Great post. I will be in Cusco around 9am. Do you think I can make it to Rainbow mountain on the same day. Lets say if I start the hike by 10am do you think it is possible? 

    1. Amanda

      It takes around 4 hours to get to Rainbow Mountain from Cusco. If you leave at 9 AM you can be there by 1 PM. It takes about 3-4 hours to hike, so you can be finished by 5 PM. Then it will take 4 hours to drive back to Cusco. Check what time sunset is when you plan to go so you’re not hiking in the dark!

  22. Catalina Moreno

    Hi, thanks for the great post. I am planning to visit in December and would love to get taxi driver contact info as well! Much appreciated.

  23. Caroline Lutz

    Thank you so much for your awesome posts! I plan on hiking Rainbow Mountain and Lake Humantay in early November and would like to take a taxi like you suggested. 4am isn’t my jam if it doesn’t have to be lol. I’ve read some taxi’s can be sketchy, I would love the name/number of the company/person who was reliable for you if you don’t mind sharing!

    Thanks again for this great content. Its helped my planning process tremendously!

  24. Neoh

    Hi Amanda,
    Can you forward the email for taxi driver for the rainbow mountain trip. We are heading in oct. Any info you can provide. We are an elderly group. Thanks

  25. Hannah

    Hey! I am going about the end of April. We might be renting a car ourselves and driving. We have a group of 5 and think a car and driving ourselves will be worth the extra cost. Do you think the roads are hard to navigate if we put the location you said in the article  into our GPS would we be fine? 

    1. Amanda

      Renting a car would be a great idea! Yes, I think you should be able to easily find it. Does anyone in your group speak Spanish? I know our driver stopped twice and asked the locals to make sure he was going in the right direction — it was his first time going there too! But I was following along on Google Maps and went the same way Google said to go. :) The app is also a great alternative that usually has more back roads and hiking trails than Google maps, and you can use it without cell service or Wifi. The interface is not as user-friendly as Google maps, but it’s a good backup to have while traveling. Just make sure to download the Peru map sometime while you have Wifi.

    2. Hannah Otto

      No one n my group speaks fluent Spanish so I hope we are okay! Can you email me your drive info just in case something falls thru?

    1. Tobi

      Hi Amanda,
      Thank you for your information. It’s so detail and useful. Can you forward the information of the driver that you used? We will going there next year. Thank you so much.

  26. Alex

    Thanks for this and for your Laguna Humantay post too. 
    If you do the Rainbow Mountain hike on your own, is there a trail? You wont get lost or anything? Can I also pls have the taxi driver’s info? Thank you so much.

    1. Amanda

      Yes, there is a very well marked trail and there is only one way up. You won’t get lost! I will email you our driver’s info :) Have a great trip!

  27. Brian M

    I’ll be traveling to Cusco this November to see Machu Picchu and was considering doing this hike as well. Your page is well thought out and well written. I really appreciate the work you put into this.

    I heard that the region’s prime weather occurs between April and September… so I’d miss that window by a couple months… how do you think my trip would differ? Yours sounds amazing and I’d love to replicate it as best I can!

    Also, can I get your taxi drivers info?

    1. Amanda

      Hi Brian! Since you don’t really need to book in advance for Rainbow Mountain, I would definitely wait until a day or two before, when the weather forecast is more accurate, and plan your trip to rainbow mountain on a non-rainy day!! I would definitely try to plan Rainbow Mountain on the sunniest day. You’ll see more of the colors in the sun. For Machu Picchu, I planned for 2 days there so if the weather wasn’t good one day, hopefully it would be better on the other day. Hope this helps! Have a great trip!! :)

  28. Cat

    Loved this! so informative and helpful :) I also totally forgot the rainbow mountains were in Peru and would’ve totally missed out if I hadn’t come across your site! Could you also share the driver info with me as well :)

  29. Yvonne Berga

    Hey Amanda and Kevin,
    Cant thank you enough for all this info! How about you share that driver’s info with me also? :) Thanks!

  30. Emanuele

    Hi, I am going to Peru the first three weeks of September, how are the temperatures in Cusco and Machu Picchu? Plus I will spend probably a week to Sierra andina, Santa Cruz, do you know anything about that place?
    Thanks a lot, keep on running and trekking yeah

  31. Patrick

    Hello Amanda,

    I would like to ask please about the contact information of your taxi. Sounds like fantastic advice. Much appreciated. We are planning a 3 day Machu Picchu Inca trail hike 3 days later, so maybe this will be a good warm up. Thank you very much.

  32. Sophia Lee

    It seems everyone is asking for that amazing taxi driver’s information. Could you please email it to me? Thank you!

  33. Ana

    Hello Amanda! Awesome blog and very informative post. Could you please send me your taxi driver’s info?  I am planning  to hike the Rainbow Mountain soon. Thank you very much! 

  34. Michael

    Hi! I’ve been reading your helpful and informative account of your hikes. I’ll be in Cusco in a week and am contemplating doing both Humantay and Rainbow on our own. As with the others, could you please share your taxi driver’s contact with me? Thanks in advance.

  35. Hana Cerna

    Dear Amanda, would you be please so kind and emailed me information about taxi driver please? And does he speaks english? Because I am afraid of how to speak with them.
    Thank you very much! 

  36. Thuy Nguyen

    Hi Amanda,

    I throughly enjoyed reading your post.  We will  be heading to Peru in a few weeks. I was  planning on doing tour for Rainbow Mountain, but  decided to hire a taxi to drive  us there after reading your post.

    Could you please forward your taxi  driver information.
    Thanh you so much!!

  37. Kristin

    I’m incredibly thankful for your article. As a fairly active fat kid, I’ve been a bit apprehensive about doing the hike and just getting completely gassed on the uphill portion and slowing down whatever group I end up with. But if it’s all uphill but not super steep, I think I can manage to not die, and am now even more excited to go when I’m in Peru this October.

    1. Amanda

      Have a great trip!! :) The last 15 minutes or so were really tough for me because of the altitude. Just remember to bring plenty of water and snacks and take as many breaks as you need! :)

  38. Lili

    Hi Amanda,

    Your post is very helpful! My family and I were almost going to book a tour, but after reading your post, we will hike on our own. Would you mind providing me with your driver’s info please? I plan on asking other drivers, but it will be nice to have the contact info for one. Thank you :)

  39. Carrie

    thank you so much for sharing! Very helpful. I was wondering where you were able to find the weather forecast for rainbow mountain? I’m having difficulty.
    Thank you! Carrie

    1. Amanda

      Hi Carrie! I’m not sure how accurate it will be, but search for Pitumarca Peru on Good luck! :)

  40. Scarlet

    Wow. I got an email about a vacation to Peru today and I was thinking that sounded fun and then I just ran across your blog post and I had never even heard of Rainbow mountain before but now I really want to go. Pinning and adding it to my bucket list right now!

  41. De'Ett

    Thank you fo all the information it was very helpful! I do have a quetiom my husband and I want to drive there our selves is that possible and is there a parking area or just for taxies and buses?

    Thank you
    De’ ett

  42. Diana Martel

    Hi Amanda, 

     What helpful information!  My family will be traveling  to  Cusco  in August for a week.   On the day we arrive we plan to just keep it low-key and check out the local scenery but we were planning on doing a day trip to  Lake Humantay  the next day  and Rainbow Mountain our third day.   Do you think this is going to be too much as far as experiencing altitude sickness?  Not sure if one day of acclimation is enough.  We do  plan on doing the trip ourselves as you had suggested versus with a tour group.   The remainder of the week we will visit Machu Picchu and stay in the Sacred Valley a couple nights. 

     Thanks in advance !

    1. Amanda

      Hi Diana! Everybody reacts different to altitude so it’s hard to say! Just listen to your body and take breaks often. Be sure to have plenty of water and snacks for energy. You can always hire a horse (at both places) if you get too tired! If you have any health concerns you should definitely talk to your doctor first. Have a great trip!

  43. Bryan

    Hi thank you for your article! It really helped me plan my trip for Peru. I was wondering if you could email me your taxi driver’s contact information? We’re going next week. Thank you!

  44. Vinny

    Great information. I have read your Humantay Lake and this one. It is the only time I have seen a comparison of the the actual hike difficulty. Thank you. I love the idea of hiring a taxi, but will we miss out on dialogue of the area, and is there anyway we could take the wrong path? RAINBOW MOUNTAIN looked a little more ‘this way, or that way’.

  45. Aali Sahay

    Thank you so much for your blog posts – I’m finding them so helpful in planning a trip to Peru this summer! Could you also send me your driver’s info? I would love for us to do Rainbow Mountain ourselves instead of through a tour group. Additionally, if you only had time for one would you recommend doing Rainbow Mountain or Humantay Lake? Hopefully we can do both but if not I’d love your advice. Thanks again!

    1. Amanda

      It depends on what you want to see! They’re both similar hikes but different landscapes. I will email you his info! Have a great trip! :)

    1. Donielle

      Thank you so much for the intmfor.ation! Would it be possible to also get the information of the driver you hired? I know taxi drivers are so nice there but I wonder if my group will want me to prepare a little. Your information is so helpful! Thanks for this post!

  46. joyce

    Thank you for the fantastic info above, the photos are absolutely stunning! I’d be grateful if you could share your taxi driver’s info too many thanks!

  47. Katie Diederichs

    Thanks for sharing this! I was wondering which months are the best times to go on that hike to get the best weather?

    1. Amanda

      The dry season is from May to October. We were there the first 2 weeks of April and didn’t have any rain. Have a great trip!

  48. Cherri

    Hi Amanda! Thank you so much for your detailed guide :) We’re using it as our bible for this trip!

    If you don’t mind, can you please also forward me your driver’s information? We’ll be doing self guided tour! We can’t wait for this trip to happen in 2 weeks!!

  49. Maria

    Hi it’s Maria again. I should have taken time to read some of the other comments first. I will happily take your driver’s info also. I’ll be arriving in a few days. I can definitely keep him busy for a few days! Thanks

  50. Maria

    Hi! I would love to speak with you one-on-one as I am traveling to Peru in the very near future with my daughter.there seems to be so much information to navigate for the rainbow mountain and Machu Picchu that I just can’t keep all the information straight. I will be staying at the same hotel, the JW, and would like to do my own excursion to rainbow mountain. Is it possible to start out around 8 or 8:30 a.m. and make it back around 6:30 or 7 p.m.? The following day would be Machu Picchu so both days are very full. Are you in the US? I asked because I thought maybe we could speak or email and find a way to exchange this information privately. Thanks again!

    1. Deana Hanson

      Hello Maria! I am traveling to Peru July  2019, with my two daughters. It seems we have similar excitement and righfull level of concern. If you are willing to exchange information, I would be most grateful.

  51. Tammy

    Hi Amanda! 

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and advice with all of us! My boyfriend and I are going to Peru in Sept and would very much appreciate your taxi drivers contact info for both Humantay Lake and Rainbow Mountain. 

    We have two free days in Cusco. Do you think we will have enough time to explore Cusco and take day trips to Humantay Lake and Rainbow Mountain? 


    1. Amanda

      Hi Tammy!! I will email you our driver’s info! Rainbow Mountain and Humantay Lake will both take the full day — one full day for each one. You will arrive back in Cusco around 5-6 PM. However, you don’t need THAT much time to see Cusco. Basically there’s the main square and the market. You can see them both in a few hours if you have some time one morning or afternoon. Have a great trip!!

  52. Helen

    Amanda, thank you for such a detailed commentary which outlined very important aspects for hiking Rainbow Mountain.  Your blog was quite informative and very much appreciated.  I am going to Rainbow Mountain in July 2019 and would love to get the contact information of the taxi driver you used.  Thank you

    One question that I am not sure if you will be able to answer or not, if we wait until the day if the hike  we want to rent a horse for trek, is there a possibility that no horses will be available? 

    Thanks again for your advice

    1. Amanda

      Hi Helen!

      You can’t reserve a horse in advance, even if you go with a tour. We got there around 10:30 AM and I think there was only one horse left. But the trail is very easy and flat at the beginning, and by the time the trail started going up, more horses were coming back down and were available to rent. We had several locals ask if we wanted to rent a horse, so we definitely could have gotten one if we wanted one.

      I will email you our driver’s information!

      Have a great trip!

    2. Dan Himes

      Hi Amanda,

      Thank you for your blog. Could I have your taxi driver’s name and contact info for the Rainbow Mountain trip please? Does he speak any English? Thank you so much. Dan

  53. Clau

    Wow! Your information is so vivid and detailed. I will be going to Peru April 2020. I have book mark your site for future reference. I am sure the taxi driver appreciates all of your referrals. I am kindly requesting his information. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences.
    Kind Regards

    1. Amanda

      Hi Clau! Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I will email you our driver’s info. Have a great trip!

  54. Susan C

    My husband and I are heading to Cusco, Arequipa, and Lima next month, and your blog was just what I needed! :)
    If you would be willing to pass along your taxi driver’s info, I’d really appreciate it.
    I love your pictures and can only hope to capture some of my own.

  55. Mariel Breboneria

    I’ve read your Humantay Lake guide and this, thank you so much for the helpful info. my boyfriend and i are usually just do things on our own when we travel. We will be staying in Cusco for a couple days after our stay in Ollantaytambo in May and would like to hire him when we go to Rainbow Mountain! I’d appreciate it. THAnk you! :)

    1. Amanda

      Hi Mariel! Thanks so much for your comment! I will email you our driver’s info. Have a great trip!

  56. Becca

    Thank you so much for this blog post – it is super helpful! My friend and I are going to Cusco for five days next week (we are currently living in Bogota). We have been looking for challenging and rewarding hikes that would be good for this time of year, and we are really interested in Rainbow Mountain. Would you mind sharing your taxi driver’s info?

    Additionally, was there any lesser-known hikes you wish you had done after the fact? Thank you again!

    1. Amanda

      Hi Becca! Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I will email you our driver’s info! Definitely check out Humantay Lake also! I actually changed my flight and stayed one more day to do this hike! Have so much fun! :)

  57. Cami

    I’ve read this post and your Humantay post and wondering which you preferred? My friend and I are seasoned hikers, we have hiked in Ecuador, Mexico, China, etc and understand altitude sickness and are familiar with high altitudes. We only have 3 days in Peru and one spot for Humantay or Rainbow Mountain. If you had to do it over, and knowing what you know now, which would you choose if you had to choose one? :)

    1. Amanda

      Both of the hikes are very similar! It just depends on what you want to see. :) The Rainbow Mountain hike is a bit longer, but not as steep. The Humantay Lake hike is a bit shorter but more steep. When I was there it was verrrrrry windy at the top of Rainbow Mountain (where you have the best view of the Rainbow mountain) . At the lake it was more pleasant to sit around the lake and have a picnic lunch. Hope this helps!

  58. William

    Hello.  Great article.  We are planning our trip to Peru in July.  Is the mountain as vibrant as your pics?  It seems that the private taxi is the way to go.  Would you mind passing along your taxi drivers contract info?  

    1. Amanda

      Hi William! I always add a bit of saturation to my photos, but if you get a bright sunny day the mountain is definitely vibrant! I just emailed you our taxi driver’s contact info. Have so much fun!

  59. Macy

    I want to visit Rainbow Mountain this April but I’m a little nervous about the altitude sickness. Would you recommend this hike to someone with little experience with hiking, especially at such a high altitude?

    1. Amanda

      The high altitude does make it more challenging than it would be at a regular altitude! If you’re worried you can always hire a horse :) We even saw them available halfway through the hike in case you got tired along the way :)

  60. Helena Suarez

    Thank you for the article and the tips. We will be doing this hike exactly on April 11th 2019!… i sure hope that our weather is as wonderful as what you´ve captured.

    We are pretty well traveled and always appreciate the “on our own” experience.. big no no to tours. So your advise is incredibly welcomed. Would you have happened to have kept the taxi’s Whatsapp info that you could share?

    Any other “must” see sites? We want to do local markets and were thinking about the salt mines? any input.

    thanks again

  61. Ryan

    Is the only reason all the tours leave so early in the morning because they stop for breakfast? Did you see any downside to leave around 7am and starting the trek around 10:30? And if they leave so early, why do the tours still get back to Cusco around 6pm? Thank you for your help 

    1. Amanda

      Yes, the tours include breakfast and lunch. So if you don’t go with a tour, be sure to bring your own food and snacks for the hike! You can leave your lunch and extra water in the taxi, but definitely bring water and snacks on the hike. We left at 7 AM and the timing was perfect. Hope this helps!

  62. Angrish

    Hello, I enjoyed reading your travel blog. We love travelling. Can you tell me how kid friendly these hikes are? Can you discuss about the the dates you traveled and what kind of weather to expect around that time in all these places. Thanks, Keep travelling!

    1. Amanda

      We don’t have kids, so I couldn’t say! :) However you can read about the details of the hike in my post (distance, difficulty, etc) and decide if it would be appropriate for your family. Dates traveled are also mentioned in the post. Good luck with your visit!

  63. James

    Did you just hail a random taxi when trying to get one for the trip? Did you pay them in full up front or half at the beginning and the rest upon coming back down the mountain ?

    1. Amanda

      Yes, a day or two before we wanted to go, we hailed a few random taxis on the street and talked to them and asked their price. We found one guy who was really nice and seemed happy to work with us. We agreed on a price up front and a time/place to pick us up. We did not pay anything up front, we paid him at the end of the day when he dropped us back off at our hotel. Hope this helps!!

  64. Pavel

    Great post and very useful info! Question: the altitude sickness gets very bad even if you spent the last couple of weeks at altitudes not lower than 3000 meters? Also, do you reckon the road from cusco to the hike entry is feasible by motorbike? Thanks again and keep up the good work.

    1. Amanda

      We had been in Bolivia and Peru at very high altitudes for about 2 weeks, and I felt more tired and out of breath as we got to closer to the top of Rainbow Mountain. I had to stop for breaks, but it was nothing too bad!

      I don’t think you would have any problems getting there by motorbike. Have fun!!

  65. Donna

    Just wondering what your thoughts are about renting a car in Cusco and driving ourselves from there.  We’re American, fwiw.

    1. Amanda

      Renting a car should be fine. The roads are in pretty good condition, and the traffic is not bad. Our driver had to stop to ask for directions twice. Once in either Checacupe or Pitumarca (I can’t remember exactly) because the road was closed, and once right before the turn off to CU-124 / Vía a Vinicunca. If you follow the Google Maps directions to the Rainbow Mountain Pitumarca Trail Parking, it should take you right there. Good luck and enjoy!!

  66. Randel De La Rosa

    I’ve read your post on the Humantay Lake and this one. Very much appreciated. We are 2 people with one day in Cusco in November. Which hike is less difficult and less likely for us to suffer harsh altitude sickness?

    1. Amanda

      I thought Humantay Lake was the easier hike. The trail is steeper, but shorter. It takes about 1 hour to go up and a bit less to come down. The altitude is around 13,800 feet.

      Rainbow Mountain is not quite as steep, but it’s still uphill the entire way, and it’s longer. It takes about 2 hours to go up and a bit less to come down. It’s also at a higher elevation, around 17,000 feet.

      Keep in mind you can hire a horse at both places in case you’re worried about the hike or altitude sickness. Hope this helps! :)

  67. Tracy Pearson

    Great report. I have read your Humantay Lake and this one. It is the only time I have seen a comparison of the the actual hike difficulty. Thank you. I love the idea of hiring a taxi, but will we miss out on dialogue of the area, and is there anyway we could take the wrong path? Humantay Lake looked a little more ‘this way, or that way’. I suppose if we were able to hire the same taxi driver, we might get a good deal. I am not at all confident on my haggling skills!

    1. Amanda

      There is only one path at Rainbow Mountain. You definitely can’t miss it! :) You can hire a guide at Rainbow Mountain if you really want one. There are locals offering horses for hire to take you up the mountain, but I bet one of them would be more than happy to be a guide. I am definitely not good at haggling either — I hate it, lol!! But when the Marriott quoted us 300 soles, we definitely knew a taxi driver off the street would be willing to give us a better price. :) Good luck!

  68. Helga

    It’s great to see someone hiking through this trail with no more than bare physical tiredness… However, for me this ordeal proved to be like all 9 circles of Dante’s inferno! And I’m not even kidding!

    You can read my story to compare here:

    Despite all my difficulties I would absolutely go through this hell again!
    P.S. totally jealous of the weather you had and all your colourful shots!

  69. Cathy Clark

    WOW! What an amazing place & I loved all your practical advice!!! You said the altitude was very high at the top—do you know how many feet it is?

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Meet Kevin & Amanda

Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.


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