Breathtaking, that is how best to describe what we* saw at the Red Valley in Peru. We had never seen anything like this before. The crazy part? Very little people visit the place, which is incredible as the Red Valley is right next to the rainbow mountain, a (too) popular tourist attraction nowadays!
Accordingly, we saw the Red Valley in Peru in combination with our Low Budget Rainbow Mountain tour. In this post, we tell you all about it: from booking to transport. However, there is not a lot of information out there about the Red Valley itself… Let’s change that!! These are 6 things you need to know before visiting the Red Valley.
* “We” is me and my dad, I’ll make sure to include some family photos
1. Why should you go?
- Because it’s unique. As far as you can see… Red mountains dotted by green and grey. The view is endless; we were in awe!
- It’s Quiet. Unlike its brother on the other side of the hill (the rainbow mountains), this place is less visited. In comparison, when we went to the Red Valley there were 8 people at the viewpoint versus hundreds at the rainbow. We booked the tour in low season, but you can assume the ratio is the same.
Did you know the rainbow mountain is googled
155 times more often than the red Valley? That is CRAZY.
- Cheap to visit. If you book a low budget Rainbow Mountain tour anyway, it is only a little hike extra and costs you 10 soles more. A bargain for such a beautiful place.
2. Booking a visit to the Red Valley, Peru
You can of course book dedicated trip to the Red Valley in Peru. In that case, you walk through it. It’s supposed to be very pretty, however, the mirador (viewpoint) was the best according to our friends who did the trek (and paid an astonishing $100 by booking via TripAdvisor).
The viewpoint, however, is easily reached from a basic Rainbow Mountain Tour. These tours you can book for as little as 50 soles including breakfast, lunch, guide, and transport. This does not include the entrance fees for the Rainbow Mountain or Red Valley, but these are only 10 soles each which you pay in cash on arrival. So, for $20, you are done. Don’t worry about missing out when you do not book in advance. An advantage of the increased popularity of the Rainbow Mountain is that tours leave EVERY day.
TIP: Book in Cusco and not online and thereby save yourself 80 dollars.
Even though it will only cost you 10 soles extra, simply waking to the valley takes time (about 30 minutes) and tour guides prefer to skip it, obviously. So make sure during your booking that you get to see the Red Valley and remind the guides during breakfast.
We booked at Coya Tours in the center of Cusco. The girl who recommended us this place got a hike TROUGH the valley after the rainbow mountain in the basic tour. Whereas we went back to the checkpoint after the viewpoint, she continued walking to the left towards a road with the guide, where she met the tour group again. She told us that you have to walk over some pretty steep ridges. Because of the rains earlier that week, we could not do the same. BUT make sure you ask!
TIP: Ask if you can hike THROUGH the Red Valley back to the car park.
3. Check the weather
As we wrote above, the weather has a big influence on your Red Valley experience because when it hasn’t rained for a while you can do a hike through the Red Valley. Otherwise, you can only see the Mirador (which was perfect for us).
As we are talking great hights (5000 m), the weather will always remain a little unpredictable. However, in general, in the rainy season (September – May) you have a bigger chance on clouds/snow/rain (but a smaller chance on crowds…). As you should not book the tour via the internet anyways (to save loads of money), inquire about the weather during booking. They will know what the weather was like the past days.
What they will probably not tell you, is whether the mountains are covered in snow. That would prevent people from booking. But it would, of course, be a pity to find your Red Valley covered in white. Therefore a little hack: go to Instagram and lookup #rainbowmountain. Next, select ‘most recent’ instead of ‘most popular’. Every day, photos are posted and just like that you can immediately see if your view is covered with snow or not.
4. Your day schedule
Your day starts early in Cusco (4:30 am) and after breakfast in a village, you will first climb the Rainbow Mountain with your group. You hike to 5100 meters, so it is quite challenging but nothing to crazy (see our other post). Personally, I might have skipped it or stayed shorter at the Rainbow Mountain to have more time at the Red Valley, because the rainbow is packed with tourist that all want that perfect photo. The mountain is still pretty cool though.
After you took that perfect shot (which is quite challenging) and the guide asks you who is hungry and wants lunch, say you still want to go to the valley. It took us about 25 minutes to get there, and we spent 20 minutes there, after which we had to hurry back to the bus (only 1-hour hike).
5. Finding the Red Valley
So where is the Red Valley? Peru, near cusco and next to the Rainbow Mountain. Just above the last horse point on the way up to the final ascent to the mountain you see a small route to the left of you with a rope. In the distance it leads to a ridge, that’s where you find the Red Valley checkpoint. After paying 10 soles, you already have a perfect view, but you can down a bit to the viewpoint. Optionally, you could climb the mountain there as well. We decided not to do this because of time constraints.
TIP: Makes sure you have a good camera because you want to capture this view!!
To return to the carpark, walk back in the direction you came from and pass the checkpoint again. Now, don’t go back all the way to the horses at the top. Just after the passage through two black rocks, there is a short cut to the car parking. Cannot find it? Just walking down randomly works as well.
6. Preparing your visit to the Red Valley
Just like for a visit to the rainbow mountain, make sure you are prepared for high altitude. Try to be acclimatized before going. Flying from Lima to Cusco and hiking at 5100m the next day, not a good idea (we did this in Cuenca and it was bad). Furthermore, take your altitude pills already in Cusco such that they work once you arrive and bring some extra.
Regarding clothes, wear layers, dress warm (hat and gloves) and bring sunblock. Only with rain, hiking shoes are a must. If it’s dry you can rock your Nike’s. Bring some nice snacks (although the breakfast is filling enough), or a thermos with coca tea to enjoy the view. Lastly, it’s awesome to bring some small money to tip the cooks and driver, they don’t expect it!
When in Peru the Red Vally is a must-visit. It is unique in its sort and not yet ruined by tourism. Don’t pay more than 20$ to see it and make sure you can handle the high altitude. Oh and most important, enjoy the view!