If you like trekking through the mountains, you certainly shouldn’t miss out on a hike to the Rainbow Mountains located in the Peruvian Andes close to Cusco. The mountains literally shine with colours – from deep red, to purple and bright blue. Since the Rainbow Mountains have been discovered only recently, we recommend visiting them as soon as possible, before they are taken over by tourists.

The Rainbow Mountains, also known as Vinicunca, were known only to local residents until a few years ago. They are particularly interesting because of the presence of sediments of eroding rocks. Those create colourful stripes that resemble a rainbow. The rock sometimes seems to contain up to seven different hues. Scientists are investigating the composition of individual minerals that cause such a unique and strong colouration of rocks. Mainly, this can be caused due to the presence of granite, limestone and partly because the mountain range is also formed by a glacier.

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The mountains plays up to seven colors

It was a group of young travellers, hiking through an ancient pathway in the Andes, who discovered this vibrant mountain range. It took a while before several travel agencies noticed the place and they started to organize tours for people to see the rainbow-coloured mountains. The mountains are located about three hours’ drive from the city of Cusco, which used to be a central city of the pre-Columbian Incas. Seeing as the mountain range is located at an altitude of about 5000 meters above sea level, the climb itself is really not a walk in a park and it’s necessary to be well prepared.

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Surrounding of the Rainbow Mountains offers beautiful views

We have chosen the company Findlocaltrips for our trek; they offer a selection of activities in almost every country of South America. As well as a booking site, the company’s website also functions as a search engine for travel agencies, which offer various excursions and trips. Simply input a location into the search engine and the website will show you several available offers. The individual activities are rated by the users themselves, so you can simply choose based on the ratings.

How to handle high altitudes

The trek to the mountains isn’t all that physically demanding. The whole trip is around 15 kilometres. What makes it one of the hardest treks we have ever been on is the high altitude. The most important thing is acclimatization. The city of Cusco is located at an altitude of 3500 meters above sea level, which is why we recommend staying there for at least three days so your body has a chance to get accustomed to the thinner air. Definitely, do not set out for the trek before you are properly prepared. The body has to deal with a much lower dose of oxygen than it normally receives. We’ve written a single article about the high altitudes that brings you 5 TIPS on how to make the track easier.

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Prepare for a high mountain trip

You might want to buy Sorojchi pills in the pharmacy, they will help you adapt to the change in pressure and altitude faster. The pills are sold in every pharmacy and we have used them preventively during the trek. They contain acetylsalicylic acid, which is commonly found in aspirin and which helps dilute blood.

During the trek, we also recommend chewing coca leaves. They do not have the same effect as the above-mentioned pills, but they will give you some energy. The evening before the trek we actually put several leaves into a bottle of water, which made tasty infused water for the morning.

The one thing that gave us some much-needed boost during the trek was actually just ordinary chocolate. The important thing is to provide the body with the necessary energy in the form of carbohydrates during the climb. Lack of sugar can worsen the symptoms of hypoxemia.

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What helped us to get rid of the high-disease disease

What to take with you

During the climb to the Rainbow Mountains, it is necessary to understand that the weather in the Andes can change in the blink of an eye. The treks are usually organized very early in the morning, as it rains more often in the afternoon. Even so, it’s important to bring waterproof clothing and prepare for possible temperatures between 0-20°C. The sun is much stronger here than anywhere else, so don’t forget a hat and sunscreen. Proper trekking shoes are, of course, essential. The terrain is sometimes quite muddy, so count on getting dirty. Don’t forget to take a snack with you as well. Lunch is included in the price of the trip, but it’s served later so it’s good to have enough water with you, together with food. You will certainly not make a mistake if you decide to take either napkins or toilet paper as well. You’ll pass several dry toilets on the way, but using them might require a bit of courage. Sometimes it’s good to be prepared for anything.

Check the Best hotel offer for Cusco or use our Free travel credit at Airbnb.

eva_profilThough the climb is somewhat demanding, the view of the Rainbow Mountains will certainly reward you. It really is worth it. If you prepare for a higher altitude, there is no need to be afraid of the climb. For those who might not be able to handle the trek, Indians with horses wait along the road. For a certain fee, a horse will take you right up to the mountain itself. But you really do need to reach the top on your own.
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Along the road, Indians with horses are waiting

Climbing on your own

The Rainbow Mountains are located about 3 hours’ drive from the city of Cusco. The bus picked us up at around 4:30 AM. We slept for two more hours on the bus before we arrived at a small Indian village for breakfast. Pancakes and pastries with butter and jam were served. And, of course, tea from coca leaves. During breakfast, we got to know our group, which consisted of 6 people. Our guide’s name was Andy. After breakfast, we still had an hour’s drive ahead of us.

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Our guide with a fragrant bottle

We drove past picturesque Peruvian villages, fields and herds of llamas. The road was quite steep and we climbed higher and higher. Finally, we reached the parking lot at an altitude of 4500 meters. What awaited us was a climb of 700 meters to the top. We paid the entrance fee of 10 Sol, which however wasn’t included in the price of the trip.

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Breakfast for local residents

The climb was demanding, not so much physically but because of the lack of oxygen. We were genuinely gasping for breath, so we walked slowly and made frequent stops. Other members of our group either took a horse or set out at a faster pace, so we ended up being the last of our group. Our guide Andy stayed close to us and encouraged us to keep going. He also carried healing water, which we massaged into our palms and then inhaled. This was supposed to help us overcome the dizziness due to oxygen deficiency. On the way, we passed Indians with horses who, after looking at our expressions, offered us rides. It was hard to resist, but we wanted to conquer the mountain with our own strength, which, in the end, we did.

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Journey to the top between the mountains

The climb itself took us 2.5 hours, after which we finally got to the very top located at 5200 meters. When we had enough of the gorgeous views, we walked back down. Andy took us along the side road so we avoided other people – that was very nice. As we descended, we felt a light tingling sensation in our fingers and toes, as the blood in our limbs began to oxygenate. The way back was much more enjoyable and also much faster; we were back in the parking lot fairly quickly. The drive back to the Indian village where we then had late lunch took us around an hour. Then another two hours on the bus to Cusco. We arrived at our hotel at around eight o’clock in the evening.

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The road itself offers wonderful views


Web: www.findlocaltrips.com
Email: info@findlocaltrips.com

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And finally at the top of the mountain

Thanks to Findlocaltrips for support during our visit to Peru. All our views are based on our own experience.

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