Vinicunca o Palcoyo: which mountain of colours should you choose?

Cusco is a wonderful destination that adapts to each traveller. You can see impressive constructions hundreds of years old, discover incredible natural landscapes, enjoy the cultural richness of the locals or venture into unforgettable treks.

One of the places in Cusco that have gained considerable popularity in recent years is Vinicunca, the famous Mountain of Seven Colors. Thousands of people arrive every day to appreciate the mixture of shades that are drawn on the surface of this iconic hill adjacent to the impressive Ausangate mountain.

On the other hand, there is a destination that has begun to rise as a tourist alternative to Vinicunca: Palcoyo, the mountain range of colours. Three mountains stand out in the Andean landscape with their distinctive tones, creating a unique image.

So, Vinicunca or Palcoyo? If you are thinking about visiting one of them, we give you some information that will help you choose which one is most suitable for you.

1. Number of people

If what you want is an opportunity for introspection, silence and calm, Vinicunca is not for you. It is possible that you make the ascent accompanied by many groups of tourists and that you must wait at the top to take the long-awaited photo with the mountain in the background. Palcoyo, on the other hand, offers a quieter road with few visitors.

2. Intensity

The trek to the top of Vinicunca is demanding, reaching 5,100 meters above sea level on a terrain with steep sections. Comparing it with Palcoyo, the mountain range of colours has a slightly lower height (4,930 meters above sea level), but the terrain is less rugged and flat, making it a good alternative for those who do not have the best physical condition.

3. Time

At the level of physical effort, we must add the time it will take you to climb to the top of both places. In Vinicunca, you will have to cover a distance of 7 kilometres in approximately three hours of walking, unlike Palcoyo where you will walk 2.6 kilometres in two hours.

4. Distance

If you want to make the most of your stay in Cusco, the distance between both mountains and the city can interfere with you. Vinicunca is 116 kilometres away from Cusco, on a trip of approximately 2.40 hours by road; you will start the tour at 4 a.m. and return to your hotel at 3 p.m. Palcoyo is 16 kilometres further after a 3.20-hour trip, with a journey that begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.

5. Other attractions

You can get the most out of your visit to Palcoyo by adding other interesting visits that will lengthen the tour, but it will be more profitable. For example, while being on the route, you will be able to stop to see some stone forests or the enigmatic Q’eswachaka, a woven bridge that dates back to the time of the Incas. Vinicunca, in general, is a direct round trip to Cusco.