Are you up for visiting somewhere new? Then there is no better option than Rainbow Mountain, Peru. Yes, especially because it was discovered only six years ago. Have a look at this guide and learn everything you must know.
Are you getting bored in this dry season? If yes, then here we have something interesting for you. Yes, we have discovered one beautiful place for which June-August is best to visit.
Here we are talking about Rainbow Mountain, Peru. You might have visited Peru earlier for the famous UNESCO sites Machu Picchu - an amazing example of ancient construction, Sacred Valley, Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve but there’s a mountain that started gaining a lot of popularity in recent years.
Peru’s Vinicunca, also known as the Rainbow Mountain, was discovered for tourism only six years ago in 2013 but became a major tourist attraction of the country. So, let’s know more about the place!
In the heart of the Peruvian Andes, there lies a ridge of mountains. And, along with it, one particularly magnificent mountain lined with layers of orange, red, turquoise and yellow is present. This is what is known as Rainbow Mountain. Especially for those who are willing to take the hike, this mountain has become an increasingly popular tourist destination.
It’s the vibrant array of colors what sets the Rainbow Mountain apart from other mountains. As per one guide, this trek was only open to the public for 1-2 years at first. But then because of its higher popularity, it remained open.
The mountain is rich in rare minerals since it is part of a volcanic chain that runs along the edges of the South American and Nazca tectonic plates.
So, these minerals are the reason behind the rainbow coloration.
There are different minerals responsible for each of the colors on the mountain. The orange and yellow layers suggest iron sulfide while the red layers indicate iron oxide rust. And it’s the chlorite from which the turquoise comes from, though it changes in shades of green very often. It also forms a vibrant turquoise blue whenever it interacts with the yellow.
According to some legends, other mountains in the range also have similar colorations beneath their rocky exteriors. However, the Rainbow Mountain’s exterior has been wiped away now. It has been said that years of weathering and erosion have exposed the colors to the world and resulted in a mountain which looks more like something that belongs in a Dr. Seuss book.
This trek has only been open to the public for 1-2 years, but you can think it has been open for much longer considering its popularity.
The most interesting fact about the mountain is that the mountain was only discovered in 2013 despite its ancient history.
As per the conversations with the locals, the area used to be covered entirely in snow. The rainbow beneath the mountain was revealed recently when the snow melted.
According to one of the residents,
“The mountain was under the snow.
Global warming has caused the ice to melt, and a colorful mountain appeared from under it.”
Since the mountain discovered, it brought an influx of cash to the region as tourism has boomed. Also, this new mountain in the region gave hope for the future to the people who live there. Many villagers who had previously left the land also moved back as the need for guides increased.
Around 500 locals have begun working as guides. Also, people there rent horses to tourists to ride up the mountain, plus to furnish visitors with a bit of local culture, many lead group tours themselves. Even the charges are the least as they only ask $3 per person which brings in about $400,000 per year in total to them.
Well, the one-word answer to this question is Yes. Yes, one needs a guide to hiking the mountain. We are not saying you can not hike this trail without one. Few people do trek alone or in small groups and that too without a guide. Though, these solo hikers varied from intermediate to advanced. But must say you will find this trek to be very intense even as an advanced hiker.
But if you’re a beginner, it will be great to get a guide. Because a good guide will present you with some information about the hike even before you will start, help you with tools in case of an emergency, let you know what snacks you can carry or what not, help translate, and will ultimately bargain huge prices on your behalf.
Located in Ausangate Mountain, Rainbow Mountain is one of the most magnificent geologic features in the world. If we see the distance of Rainbow Mountain from Cusco, a city in Peru, it's only 50 miles away. But, it's hard to get there because of the terrain between the two locations.
Hence, the location is only accessible by an automobile which takes a minimum of 3 hours to reach there. Many of the tour operators combine roundtrip transportation in the price of their tour only.
Generally, there are two seasons when visiting Peru will be great that are the dry season and the wet season. But to visit Rainbow mountain the dry season will give a much more pleasant experience.
Well, not the entire dry season we must say the best time to visit is June-August as the dry season takes place between March to November. At that time the temperature will be comfortable, the skies will be blue, and also the terrain will be perfect.
Another piece of information you might need is the most crowded time of the year. These months also come under the winter season of Peru, but still, it’s very similar to California’s winter.
You must know, regardless of the time of year, you will be freezing when you will first arrive at Rainbow Mountain. Hence the following gears you can opt for the trek:
1. Shirt or tank top
3. Hiking Jacket (preferably waterproof)
4. Hiking pants or workout pants
5. Thick, hiking socks
6. Hiking shoes or athletic shoes
8. Beanie Caps
It can be seen that there are several layers but don’t forget only these layers are your best friend. I am saying this because the temperature becomes increasingly hotter even if you are traveling during the winter. Because only after 1 hour into the hike you will end up shedding your jackets and stuff. However, the wind will let you put back the jacket the moment when you will reach the top.
Also, sometimes there is snow, but make sure if you’re bringing enough thermals/layers, be prepared.
Well, if you are going from December to February, then you might need rain gear. So, rainproof clothing, shell for your backpack, a poncho, and an umbrella would be great.
It is completely based on two things that are your hiking abilities and travel route.
Your trip begins in the morning (3-4 AM) if you’re starting a day trip from Cusco. From there, you will drive around 2.5 hours to the hill (14,189 ft high) and then hike to the top. Residents who live there hike easily in an hour to two. But, novices take about 3-4 hours to reach the top. After reaching the top, you can chill there or take pictures at the top for an hour. Well, this time could vary but, on average it takes an hour.
After going up getting down is a lot easier. Time-wise, also it only takes 1-2 hours to come down. Again you will take 2-hour drive + some time to take meals. So, in total, this trip will be of around 13-14 hours.
Although, since altitude sickness affects everyone differently hence this time also varies depending on your hiking ability. Even if you are super fit, the struggle will increase with the height due to lack of oxygen. According to one of the residents, during the hike, a super fit rugby player also needed to stop every 5 minutes to catch his breath. This shows that based on your adjustment to the altitude, your trek experience will vary.
The journey begins with an approximate 20-40 minutes level-footed trek. You will see several horses with their owner during this flat part of the trek. One can rent a horse here to go up Rainbow Mountain and back in case you cannot manage the altitude.
About rates, the owners will tell you that it will cost 120 soles or $40 round-trip but if you will haggle it may come down to 90 soles that are $30.
Your incline will start to begin once you enter the ticketing area.
And, from this place, you will start your 3-hour struggle journey. You will see large, snow-capped mountains on the way up. The soothing sound of bleats created by hundreds of alpacas (different from llamas) and sheep will surely please you.
Soon you will find a restroom along with a snack stop. There you can buy several items like candy, coca leaf remedies, quinoa bars, and water. Also, there is a facility of port-a-potties as holes simply in the ground.
Now the second half of the journey begins as the incline is steeper plus the terrain is more difficult. As compared to earlier, you’re resting every 5 minutes rather than every 15. And, the last 20 minutes is steep as well as the hardest. So this is the place where you need to act very calmly. Have patience because in the next 20 minutes, you are going to reach the most beautiful place ever, and it will all be worth it.
It depends on several factors like if you are taking a guide or not. So, if you are not going with a guide, the cost goes as:
1. Roundtrip transportation (340 soles)
2. Roundtrip horse (90 soles-less if you don’t use the horse all the way)
3. Entrance ticket (10 soles)
4. Water and snacks (10-20 soles)
Well, taking an Uber will be the best option because it will give you the best price and will also stay/come back for your return trip as well.
Many of the tours offer lunch and breakfast at a nearby home which offers Peruvian food for tourists passing through. Also, bring plenty of food so will you have fuel for the hike.
After Rainbow Mountain trek if you have more days on your Peru Trip then don’t worry there are many more places options you can visit. And all are amazing. More importantly this all might give you a more enjoyable experience overall.
Well, this place you can enjoy on the same day you go to Rainbow Mountain. All you need is to walk the extra 2-2.5 hours through the less crowded Red Valley. Adding Red Valley visit to your Rainbow Mountain trek will surely make the overall day trip experience more memorable and worthwhile.
Well, this would also be a day trip from Cusco. In comparison to the rainbow mountain, it involves a much more reasonable start time that is 7.30 in the morning. Moreover, you will see the incredible scenery of three rainbow-colored mountains, a hike at altitude, and far lesser crowd.
This is another one day trek from Cusco but this one you can't afford to miss. Truly! It is none less than Cusco’s hidden treasure and also a great off-the-beaten-track destination for travelers. In the north of the Cusco region, an Inca archaeological site is established and, that is what we call Huchuy Qosqo. Huchuy Qosqo means little Cusco is an estate built for the Inca Emperor Viracocha in 1420.
So, with incredible rainbow mountain, just a day trip away, make your day worthwhile. Must say, Rainbow Mountain is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the heart of the Peruvian Andes.
Also, let us know what you think about the place through the comment section.
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