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Should I do Vinicunca – the Rainbow Mountain Peru with my kids? is a question we get asked a lot. Read on to find our honest answer!
The Rainbow Mountain Peru must be one of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations! Vinicunca Mountain, the Rainbow Mountain, was virtually unknown in 2015. Sure, it existed on a unique lodge to lodge trek (see Lodge to Lodge Trekking In Peru) but the vast majority of the world was unlikely to visit it.
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That all changed with ONE Instagram photo from a guy named Eric Hanson! After his Instagram photos and associated blog appeared, everyone wanted to visit! Within 12 months most agencies in Cusco were offering this trip. Within 24 months it was the second most popular place to visit in Cusco after Machu Picchu. Vinicunca Mountain went viral.
“Interestingly, Vinicunca is a social media phenomena – it is about getting the picture,” says Ariana Svenson, Co-Founder Apus Peru. “You trek up to 5200m with thousands of other people on a muddy trail. Then you admire the views and hike down. It is not really about the experience. It is about the images you capture and, I suppose, publish on Social media.”
S0 You Want To Visit Vinicunca, The Rainbow Mountain Peru, With Kids?
In a nutshell…
- In terms of being an experiential experience it’s not something we would recommend for younger children.
- On the one day trip you travel for about 9 -10 hours in a car (upwards of 5 hours each way). The cheaper your service the more hours you spend doing pickups around Cusco city and adding to the amount of time in the car. If you go directly in a private group you might reduce your total travel time to 9 hours.
- You spend hours hiking to 5200m which is freezing cold, and can be obscured. You take a photo and then hike back down.
2 day Rainbow Mountain Hike might be easier
If you opt to do a two day hike like, Apus Peru offers (check here for more details and rates ) you camp at K’airahuiri Alto (4700m/15420ft). As this is a high campsite, they will require three days of acclimatization in Cusco (or at altitude) before doing this hike.
This is high altitude camping and will be cold! Also, likely you would suffer some mild effects of altitude sickness even if you are well acclimatized. In short, this is is not something that we would recommend for kids.
If you want general travel information about Peru check out Lonely Planet travel books. We have traveled with them for years and always find them a valuable resource for any location.
What are our plans to visit the Rainbow Mountain?
We planned to be in Peru in 2018 with children aged 8 and 5, and we stated, “As our plans currently stand, we won’t be taking them up to the Rainbow Mountain Peru; it is too extreme and hard of a trip. We might take them if we opt to stay at one of the closer Andean Lodges (see our Andean Lodge review) or stay in accommodation in the Valley near Pitumarka (Thus saving 4 hours of travel that day)”.
What is the best Rainbow Mountain Alternative?
Since we published the original post, our friends and acquaintances have hiked out to the still new, and quite secret Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain. There is still a lot of driving (say 4 hours vs 6 hours one way) but once you get to the trailhead you only need to walk for about 20 minutes on a gentle trail before getting your first views of a red striped mountain. The Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain is also significantly lower altitude than at Vinicunca. For more Mountain take a look at the Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain Hike.
After our cancelled 2018 trip (due to Papa’s Pancreatic Cancer) we are now booked to be in Peru in 2020, and we are planning to head to Palccoyo.
We just don’t think that the Rainbow Mountain is a “kid friendly experience”. However, we would LOVE to hear your views if you have taken your kids!
Travelling with Insurance
If you are travelling to high altitude places like Vinicunca, or the Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain then you absolutely MUST have travel insurance. Make sure this insurance covers high altitude adventure activities, and that it will cover your evacuation expenses should you become ill in the mountains. Take a look at World Nomads Family Travel Insurance
Looking For Other Peru Resources?
Check out our favourite Peru books below. We highly recommend these great reads about Peru.
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