There are millions of reasons to explore Peru and we don’t say this because we, the team of Cusco Peru Travel, love this country. Unquestionably, the diverse geography of Peru and the remnants of its Inca civilization seduce any kind of traveler. One of these good reasons is that Cusco is the gateway to the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu. Many travelers from all over the world flock to our country every year to be dazzled by this Wonder of the World. But in the last few years, a geological wonder has blown up in popularity, the Rainbow Mountain also known as Vinicunca.
This “newly” discovered mountain has become a must-see destination in Peru, indeed it is one of the most visited attractions. But many people don’t know that the Rainbow Mountain is located only a few hours from Cusco. Perfect for a great day tour. But you may be asking yourself…
What is the Rainbow Mountain?
It’s a spectacular, colorful and particularly magnificent mountain in the high Andes of Peru. What sets the Rainbow Mountain apart from other Andean mountains is its vibrant array of color. This mountain is rich in rare minerals which cause the rainbow coloration. The Rainbow Mountain is lined with layers of yellow, orange, red and turquoise. Each color comes from a different mineral e.g. the yellow indicates iron sulfide and the red comes from iron oxide rust. Completely awesome, like a dream-like landscape on Earth.
While the other Andean mountains probably have similar colorations beneath their exterior, the Rainbow Mountain stands out since its exterior has been literally wiped away. According to the locals, the mountain was entirely cover by snow but due to the environmental conditions, the snow melted away. So, the unique mineralogy of the mountain exposed the colors to the world creating this rainbow effect. We think the Rainbow Mountain belongs to a fascinating fairytale. Thus, there is no doubt that your tours in Peru will surprise you more than you expect.
Where is this multi-colored beauty?
Rainbow Mountain is located in the Peruvian Andes, about a three-hour drive from Cusco. During the trek, you will hike through picturesque villages, fields full of llamas, alpacas, and snowy peaks. Also, you will have magnificent views of the Ausangate Mountain, the highest mountain in the Cusco region.
To get to the lookout, you must hike about 15 km. Most people take close to three hours to climb but trust us, the breathtaking Andean views will easily allow you to forget the “struggle”. Then, the hike back down will be a piece of cake.
Booking your excursion
We always recommend our readers to book their tours well in advance, but this is not the case for Rainbow Mountain tours. The reason? There are innumerable local tourism offices that sell tours to Rainbow Mountain every day. You can easily book one the day before without any problem. But keep in mind that the tours may sell out quickly during peak tourist season (From June to September). So, to ensure one, book at least a few days in advance.
The tours cost an average of 100 soles ($30USD approx.). They include transportation, breakfast and lunch, and a knowledgeable local guide. Some tours start at 3 a.m. to arrive at sunrise time, others even earlier to skip the enormous crowds later in the day. Well, you must check your tour operator itinerary.
*The entrance fee to the Rainbow Mountain Park is 10 Soles. It is usually not included in most Rainbow Mountain Tours. So, just in case, bring some extra cash.
Climbing to the top: Prepare for altitude
The Rainbow Mountain sets at 5,200 meters above sea level. This height is not a joke so, you must never underestimate the altitude and its impact. Remember that the higher you go, the thinner the air gets so, you can feel out of breath quickly during your hike. For this reason, one of the first things to do in Cusco is to prepare correctly for altitude sickness. Acclimatized to high altitude will make all the difference between a marvelous experience and an unhappy one.
Take into consideration that altitude sickness, which manifests with headaches, nausea, and fatigue, can be felt when traveling to a high elevation too quickly from a lower elevation. Then, we don’t recommend doing a Rainbow Mountain tour within, at least, the first 48 hours of arriving in Cusco.
Moreover, to prevent or treat altitude sickness, you should drink plenty of water, coca tea or chew coca leaves. Coca leaf is considered ancestral medicine that was used by the Incas since immemorial times. You must also avoid alcohol, caffeine and preferably salty foods.
The hike to the Rainbow Mountain is challenging but rewarding. It is one of the most magical of the Peru tourist attractions. But any magical experience must be accompanied by some advice, right?
- Weather in the Andes is unpredictable. It can change considerably in seconds so ensure to prepare for all weather. Bring layers, a waterproof jacket, hiking boots, and a hat. Furthermore, bring a small backpack with some snacks and lots of water.
- At high altitude, you can sunburn very badly, even on cloudy days. So, a strong sunscreen is essential as much as sunglasses.
In conclusion, for those seeking a thrilling adventure, consider all that the Inca city of Cusco has to offer. Cusco Peru Travel is completely sure that the Rainbow Mountain, with its natural and multi-colored beauty, will be everything you expect and even more!
Peru has many wonders waiting for you to be discovered. Here in Cusco Peru Travel, our speciality is to make your trip an outstanding experience, fill-in this form and let your tailor-made luxury Peru vacation begin.