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The mountain of seven colors
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Ausangate: the mountain of 7 colors

The Ausangate is the highest snow-capped peak in the entire Cusco region. There you will discover a landscape of varied colors that make this place unique. It is a geological jewel that is worth visiting. The main tourist destination of this set of slopes is Vinicunca, also known as the 7-color mountain. This summit is only 100 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. It is currently the second most visited tourist destination in Cusco, after Machu Picchu.

Mountain 7 colors – Ausangate
Mountain 7 colors – Ausangate

What is Ausangate?

  • The Ausangate is the highest mountain in Cusco and the fifth largest in Peru. Its top reaches 6,385 meters above sea level. It is part of the so-called Vilcanota mountain range.
  • The Ausangate, due to its altitude, was revered by the Incas as a tutelary god, an ‘apu’.
  • In the foothills of Ausangate live Andean peoples with a lot of culture and tradition. Perhaps the most important is the ‘Feast of Qoyllur Rit’i’, the largest and highest pilgrimage in the Andes Mountains.
  • However, its best tourist destination is Vinicunca, the mountain of 7 colors.
  • The Incas believed that the masculine energy that fertilizes Pachamama (Mother Earth) was born from this mountain. The Vilcanota River is born in the mountain range of this mountain and flows into the Amazon.
  • The 7-color mountain is also known as Rainbow Mountain.
  • The “Apu” Ausangate is for the Andean culture, giver of life and guardian of one of the most varied ecosystems in the world; its name means “copper” in Quechua.
  • When you are on this mountain, remember that it is sacred to the local people. In fact, many of the nearby Andean communities still have pilgrimage dates to the top of the mountain.
  • Like the community of Chillca whose inhabitants are herders of llamas and alpacas. They have inherited Inca and pre-Inca cultural traditions.

What to see on the trip to Ausangate?

The trip to Ausangate offers different experiences such as:

  • Ausangate Hiking Trails – Cusco tourism agencies offer tours of hiking trails of 4, 5 or more days along the slopes of the snowy Ausangate. This adventure includes visits to glaciers, lagoons, Andean towns as well as sightings of llamas, alpacas and birds.
  • The mountain of 7 colors – The Vinicunca is located a short distance from the snowy Ausangate. Walkers looking to get there came across this mountain of colors and, by photographing themselves and uploading it to their social networks, they popularized it. Today it is the second tourist destination in Cusco.
  • The festival of Qoyllur Rit’i – This religious festival takes place between May or June (movable date) at the foot of the snow-capped Ausangate, in the Andean community Mawayani (more than 5 thousand meters above sea level). Every year more than ten thousand people come there. It is the highest and most crowded in the Andes Mountains. In 2011 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
  • Pacchanta Hot Springs – This Andean town is at the foot of Mount Ausangate, at a height of 4,200 meters above sea level. Its main tourist attraction is the thermal baths with views of the mountains. The place has several pools at different temperatures. The visit is included in the hiking trails to the snowy Ausangate.

How to get to the mountain of the 7 colors?

  • Definitely the mountain of the 7 colors is the main tourist destination of the Ausangate mountain.
  • To get to this destination you must take a transport to the district of Cusipata, an average of 2 hours by road.
  • Then you must make a 1-hour trip to the community of Pampachiri. There is the checkpoint to pay the entrance fee and enter the 7-color mountain.
  • Finally, a hike to the mountain of the 7 colors must be done. This hike can take 2 hours depending on the pace of each visitor. You also have the option of renting a horse on site.

How difficult is the hike to the mountain of the 7 colors?

  • Depending on the ascent path, this walk has sections with a high degree of difficulty, so it is recommended to be in good shape.
  • Locals usually offer their horses for rent, prices range from S/ 30 to 80 soles (10 to 25 US$), this will depend on how long you want to travel the road on horseback.
  • On the other hand, we remind you that you can find basic hygienic services, but very useful in emergency situations.

Ausangate trekking routes

  • The hike up Ausangate Mountain is incomparable. Not only because of the unique Andean landscapes in the world, but also because of the cultural experience offered by the route through these mountainous landscapes.
  • The trails circulate next to imposing glaciers and numerous lagoons, formed by the melting of the snow-capped mountains of the Andes. It is a 4-day trek, and although you could do it on your own, the most recommended way to trek in Peru is through a travel agency.
  • While it’s not a dangerous hike, you do need to be in good shape and have the right gear. Said equipment is included by the tourism agencies.
  • The 5-day Ausangate tour includes a visit to Andean villages (Tinqui, Upis, Ananta). It also includes a visit to beautiful landscapes such as the circuit of the seven lagoons or the thermal baths of Pacchanta. Of course, it also includes a visit to the 7-color mountain.
  • The tours can be purchased with a tourism agency, either in its web version or in the city of Cusco itself.

What else to see on the trip to Ausangate in Cusco?

These are some alternatives in the visit to Ausangate in Cusco:

  • Palccoyo Mountain – This mountain has similar characteristics to the 7 colors mountain. Its soil is rich in minerals which gives it the appearance of a rainbow. The hike up there is easier because it is only 2 kilometers long. Palccoyo is at 4,900 meters above sea level. Even so, it is still not very popular with tourists who prefer the Vinicunca.
  • The red river – During the rainy season in Cusco (from November to March) from the high peaks of Ausangate the clay soil falls off forming an amazing red river . It is located about 100 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. The final section includes a walk of 2 hours on average. It is still not very visited by tourists.
  • The Red Valley of Pitumarca – The slopes of this mountain are rich in clay, which gives them a red landscape very similar to the planet Mars. This destination is located 7 kilometers from the district of Pitumarca, at 5,020 meters above sea level. The route includes a final walk of 2 hours on average. It is still not very visited by tourists who prefer to go to Vinicunca.

Questions and answers about Ausangate and the 7 colors mountain

  • 1) How high is the Ausangate?

    The snowy Ausangate is the highest mountain in Cusco. It is located at 6,384 meters above sea level.

  • 2) Can I climb Ausangate with a tour?

    Climbing to the top of Ausangate can only be done by qualified climbers. For tourists, there is a multi-day route that circles the slopes of this imposing snow-capped mountain.

  • 3) Where is the mountain of 7 colors?

    The Vinicunca is located on the slopes of the snowy Ausangate. It is located about 100 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. It belongs to the province of Canchis, south of Cusco.

  • 4) How high is the mountain of 7 colors?

    The Vinicunca is located at 5,200 meters above sea level.

  • 5) How was the mountain of 7 colors discovered?

    Vinicunca became a famous tourist attraction in 2016 when several groups of tourists who made the route to Ausangate spotted it. Since then it has become one of the best tourist destinations in Cusco.

  • 6) How much does a tour to Nevado Ausangate cost?

    The Ausangate trek tour of 4 days and 3 nights has an approximate cost of 450 US dollars per tourist. This service includes full transportation, tickets, camp, necessary equipment and food.

  • 7) How to get to the mountain of 7 colors?

    The best way to get to the 7-color mountain is by hiring a tour. If you go on your own you must follow the route: Cusco – Cusipata – Pampachiri – Vinicunca.

  • 8) What should I bring to visit Ausangate?

    During your visit to Ausangate do not forget to bring with you: trekking shoes, comfortable waterproof clothing, poncho in case of rain, portable batteries, sleeping bag, thermos, personal accessories and cash. Everything should go into a comfortable backpack for the trek.

  • 9) How is the weather in Ausangate?

    The climate in Ausangate is cold. Temperatures vary from a maximum of 5ºC. up to a minimum of -10ºC. at night. The rains are more common in January, February and March.

  • 10) Is it dangerous to visit the Ausangate?

    The Ausangate tour is a non-hazardous route organized for visitors of all ages. Therefore, you do not need to be an expert mountaineer. On the other hand, it is recommended to have good health because you walk through landscapes above 5 thousand meters of height.


By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, April 13, 2022