One would think that a rainbow-colored mountain would be fairly easy to spot, but in the case of Vinicunca, set high in the Peruvian Andes, getting a view of the multihued wonder means waking up early to trek through mountains that burst with natural colors, but are thin on air considering they rise over 17,000 feet (5181m). Despite the physical challenges, however, seeing Vinicunca in person is a once-in-a-lifetime visual treat where you’ll likely find yourself gawking in silence and wondering, “how is this real?” With impressively straight and colorful lines, “Rainbow Mountain,” as it’s come to be known, explodes with hues of lavender and red that are caused by minerals in the soil, and looks like something from a coloring book as opposed to an actual Andean peak that few are lucky to see.
Insider's Tip: Be sure to pack clothes for all types of weather, as snow, ice, hail, rain, and searing sun are all possible in the span of a few hours. Also be sure to wear hiking boots, since steep sections of trail can become very slippery if there’s been any rain or snow.
The best season for trekking near Cuzco is from April through October when it’s a bit colder, but the weather is much drier. To see Rainbow Mountain, you can either choose from a 6-day trek on the remote Ausangate Trail, or do an abbreviated, 1-day trek that departs from Cuzco around 3am and offers a view of Vinicunca on a challenging, but attainable trail. Because of the very high altitude, however, hikers should be in relatively good health and already acclimatized to the altitude.