A country such as Peru, so rich in culture and spirituality is something every traveler must visit at least once in their lifetime. The people, the places, the history, everything will make you forget about the city life you left back home and emerge into a journey of self-discovery.
A simple online search about Rainbow Mountain is enough to make you understand why it has become such a picturesque location for travelers. Shades of red, green, yellow and purple are perfectly blended together to form an image that you could hardly believe is real. While Machu Picchu seems to be the most popular attraction in Peru, Rainbow Mountain is slowly attracting more and more visitors each year, all of which describe their experience as a one-of-a-kind journey. If the images did not convince you already, keep reading to find out why you should make Rainbow Mountain your next vacation destination.
Rainbow Mountain Tour – Why It Should Be Your Next Trip This Year
It is a good way to challenge yourself
The complete Rainbow Mountain tour takes about 13 hours to complete and involves a bus trip from Cusco all the way up to the top of the mountain, where you can experience the 360-degree breathtaking view. The hiking route starts at about 4,300 m above sea level and you will be walking for about 3 km up the hill. While it may not seem long, the trail is quite hard to walk, due to its muddy portions and the high altitude. The maximum height is about 5,200 meters, which is why it can get quite difficult to walk and talk at the same time.
It will definitely be a good way to challenge yourself physically and get some good exercise, but don’t overestimate your powers. Make sure to prepare yourself before the trip and get enough rest, as the journey begins quite early in the morning (most buses leave Cusco around 3-3:30 am). This will ensure you get to the top in the first hours of the day, to experience the morning light hitting the colors of the mountain in the most perfect way.
If you don’t feel you will be able to walk up the hill yourself, you always have the option to rent a horse that will take you to the top. Make sure you are well hydrated and rested before the trip, to avoid altitude sickness, which is quite a serious issue, especially if you are not accustomed to these trips.
You are in for some life lessons
When visiting a new place, it’s always best to come home with a bit more than just a few photos to share on social media. The lessons you learn are what adds value to the trip and what sticks to you long after you’ve returned. When visiting the Rainbow Mountain, or if you want to go by its original name, Vinicunca, learning new things will be number one on your to-do list.
For starters, you will get a chance to find out what gives the mountains their unbelievable colors. The answer has to do with the exposure and erosion of the minerals found deep inside the layers of the mountain, mostly due to tectonic shifts and volcanic activities. Each color represents a different kind of mineral that was brought to the surface by centuries of rains, snowfalls and extreme winds, along with temperature changes. The shades of red are brought by the iron oxide, goethite and oxidized limonite revealed stripes of brown, chlorite painted the mountain green and iron sulfide completed the scenery with some pops of yellow.
However, the colorful mountains were not visible until a few years ago, when snow and ice from the Peruvian Andes melted and revealed the natural beauty we see today. When asked, the elders that live nearby will simply tell you that the mountains were always there, but they were just covered in snow.
It’s less crowded than other Peruvian attractions
Everybody knows how popular Peru has become, especially in the past few years. Wasting precious hours on your vacation just to wait in line is simply not something anybody enjoys. While you will surely be meeting some tourist crowds here as well, the location is not exactly as popular as Machu Picchu or other Peruvian must-sees.
The reason the Rainbow Mountains are not yet as popular amongst tourists is precisely the fact that the tours have only been available since 2016 and the word has not spread out yet. You will be sharing the trip with just enough people to make this into a multicultural experience, but not so much in a sense that you will be feeling like it lost its magic. Places like this should be able to allow you to enjoy a brief moment of peace and solitude, to add to the whole Peruvian experience.
It looks expensive, but it’s not
While you might think that a trip to such a unique location might get quite pricey, the truth might surprise you. If you were to spend one day in any European capital, you can easily find yourself spending close to $100 just for transportation and museum entrances. Sure, when you’re on vacation, you might not think that much about money, but spending a small fortune on museum trips may not give you as much satisfaction as a trip to a place surrounded by nature would.
The tours from Cusco range at about $50 for one person and include the bus ride from Cusco to the starting point of the mountain, entrance fees and an experienced tour guide to help you along your journey. Some tours also include breakfast at the local restaurants in Puacarpta, as well as other facilities.
If you don’t feel prepared to hike all the way up to the top, horses can be rented at about $20 each, to make the trip easier for you. However, the horses will only be able to take you about two thirds up the trail and you will still have to hike last few hundred meters yourself, so be prepared with hiking boots and lots and lots of water to keep you hydrated.