Ever wondered how it might feel waking up on a mountain surrounded by different shades of colors?
If you are still guessing, I am talking about the recently discovered Rainbow Mountain Peru, one of the top-most attractions on the Andes Mountain Range. This spectacular multi-colored mountain is the most happening and adventurous site in Peru after the historic Machu Picchu. (Read about Machu Picchu)
Among a very few geological wonders of Earth, the Rainbow Mountain of Peru is locally known as ‘Vinicunca’ or ‘Montaña de Siete Colores’. In this piece of writing, we will address a complete list of things you need to take care of before starting your most awaited tour of the decade.
How to reach?
The nearest central hub to the Rainbow Mountain in Peru is the Cusco (often spelled as Cuzco) City. Cusco City is also an unmissable destination if you are visiting Peru. The historical capital is also close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu.
After reaching Cusco, you must take a 3-hour drive to the car parking lot of Rainbow Mountain crossing the Pitumarca region. From the car parking area, the real adventure begins. At the end of the 7 km trek, Mountain of Seven Colors will be there flaunting his Peruvian charm.
As most of the journey is on car drive, it is always advisable to leave Cusco as early as possible so that you can reach Rainbow Mountain in time and come back before it gets dark.
“MOUNTAINS ALWAYS UNFOLD THEIR SECRETS TO BRAVEHEART. ARE YOU THE ONE?”
TOP THINGS TO KNOW
Before packing your bag to this Mountain of Colors, you must take note of certain things beforehand. Have a look:
AMAZING RAINBOW MOUNTAIN PERU
The mountains of the Andes never ceases to amaze us with their attractions, be it long-buried archeological sites or natural wonders of Mother Earth. One such wonder is the Rainbow Mountain in Peru.
Rainbow Mountain of Peru is a result of a pure geological miracle as, before 2015, the mountain wasn’t even there. The present attraction site was beneath the glacier. Then the ice started melting (because of climate change) and due to the rare, varied minerals of Andes, multicolored scenes of the mountain appeared to the locals and trekkers.
At the highest point of the mountain, strip layers of 14 different minerals started creating magic with the colors of green, red, yellow, earthy brown, and more.
Even though in ‘Montaña de Siete Colores’ all rainbow colors are not present, all these 14 different minerals come together and make it look like the union of seven colors in earthy desire. This peculiarity adds interest among the geologists to pay their visit to Rainbow Mountain in Peru.
THE WHOLE TREK:
Most people want to visit Rainbow Mountain because of its challenging trekking/hiking trail. It is the most common reason for trekkers to try it. Trekkers find it adventurous with high-altitude mountains.
Standing proud at a high altitude of 5,200 meters above sea level (more than half of Mount Everest), the 6-hour hike to the attraction site is tiring and not for faint-hearted people. The trekking hours depend on your fitness. Normally, it takes 2 hours to reach the highest summit but, it is always important to take some extra hours in hand.
But, one relaxing fact is that you can hire a horse anytime if you think you can’t make it to the top on foot. To get accustomed to the altitudinal difference and other health reasons, you must reach the city of Cusco two days earlier (very important)
Trekkers also opt to pay a 2-day visit to Rainbow Mountain. You can also tent up closer to a mountain and enjoy some ancient stories of the iconic ‘Inca Empire’ and of ‘Machu Picchu’ too.
At the highest summit of Rainbow Mountain, the temperature drops below 0 (zero) at night. It is advisable for the trekkers to know the fact beforehand if they are planning to reach Vinicunca from a multi-day Ausangate trek.
You must be careful when it comes to maintaining the oxygen level at such a high elevation. Usually, the guides do not advise the visitors to stay at the top for more than 10-15 minutes as the breathing starts getting complicated due to a lack of oxygen.
At around 5200 meters above sea level, it becomes very difficult for some people to stay longer than the estimated time.
But the excitement of sighting herds of Llamas and Alpacas all along the valley makes the trek even more beautiful. I am sure your journey will be a memorable one with that distant view over the majestic ‘Ausangate’ and those snow-capped peaks. You could also have a little bit of Quechua talk with your guide if you want to know more about their culture.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
You should avoid traveling when there is a possibility of rain or snow. Such weather will increase your hiking difficulty and will lower your sighting satisfaction. They say that from May to October is the best for the trekkers to sight the colored mountains.
The months from June to August often come up with bright blue sky and Peru gets crowded with tourists. If you like to blend with the crowd, you may plan your visit this way, but if you are not a crowd person then, wear your trekking shoes anytime between May and October.
But, visitors must always frequently check the weather in Vinicunca, as it changes too rapidly. You should avoid the months January and February as both are the wettest months in the region of Vinicunca.
Mountains or any destinations are always best to visit right after sunrise or before sunset. If you are fond of clicking some quality photos of Peru’s famous Rainbow Mountain, you can opt to take the tour this way too.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE
Other than the things already mentioned, you also need to know the following before planning any tour to Rainbow Mountain.
- People often neglect the need for Travel Insurance. But, if you are trekking/hiking to such a high elevation for the first time, altitude sickness might cause you some problems. It is always better to get prepare beforehand.
- If you are intending to hire a horse, please make sure you take the healthy ones. At such high elevation animals also succumb to illness.
- You must take note of the weather in Vinicunca now and then. Because it needs only an hour for snowy weather to change into a cloudy beast and to a scorching sun! Weather in Rainbow Mountain can change rapidly in no time and is mostly unpredictable.
- You can take your snacks with you as you won’t find anything on the route. But, you must bring back your trash with you. Mountains are not for littering.
- Check for qualified guides, oxygen tanks, first aid kits if you are traveling with a tour operator. You must have a reliable tour operator too.
- Just next to Rainbow Mountain, there is Red Mountain and Red River too. You can also take a walk up to the Red Mountain and stare at its pride.
- Most of the travelers choose to stay at the hotels of Cusco City. You can also plan your stay there. After sighting the mountain of seven colors, you can take an hour’s drive and tour around the city and enjoy the admirable archeological remains of the Inca Empire and Spanish colonial architecture.
ESSENTIAL GEARS TO BRING
Please take a note of gears/things you need to carry with you:
As mentioned above, the weather in Vincunca changes rapidly within an hour. It is always advisable to take rain jackets with you as there is a high chance that it is going to rain during the trek to Rainbow Mountain.
At the high altitude trekking route, you need to cover your body with many layers of clothes. Hence, packing warm clothes is really essential for the trekkers visiting Rainbow Mountain.
You need to make your backpack as small as possible. Otherwise, it would be very difficult to climb the steep sides of Rainbow mountain.
Dizziness and Breathlessness are common sicknesses that might happen during the trek to Rainbow Mountain because of the lack of oxygen. Locals always advise taking coca leaves as chewing them helps in adapting to the changing environment.
The daytime of the tour is most likely to be covered by a blistering sun. You need to take plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated and continue on the trek to Rainbow Mountain.
Bathroom facilities alongside the tour of Rainbow Mountain are very basic. Hence, you need to take a roll of toilet paper too, just to be careful.
Trekking Shoes and Socks
Before touring Rainbow Mountain, you have to have a pair of trekking shoes with better grips and suitable socks. You shouldn’t take chances with the shoes as the route becomes steeper when you move higher and higher up the mountain.
Alongside Trekking Shoes, trekking poles are also necessary to climb up the mountain. For your protection, buy a good pair of poles before visiting Rainbow Mountain.
Sunhats, Sun Glasses, Sunscreen
Suns at higher sea level mountains increase sunburn risks. As the bright sunny sky is most likely to create challenges for the trekkers, these three things are essential to save yourself from the scorching sun while taking a tour to Rainbow Mountain.
“AS A TRAVELER, WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL TOWARDS NATURE, TOWARDS LOCALS AND OURSELVES.”
The Rainbow Mountain in Peru or ‘Montaña de Siete colores’ of the Vinicunca region has become a rare site ever since it appeared to the world. You may have seen posts of different Instagrammers of the colored striped mountains but, sometimes they do not do justice to the actual site of the Rainbow Mountain.
It is essential to plan out a tour considering the weather and time of the day to get a real breathtaking image of the geological wonder of the Andes Mountain range.
The local market of the Vinicunca region has been relying on tourism ever since Rainbow Mountain got discovered. Alongside the trek, you should also take some time off and have a sip with the Quechuas and talk about the iconic Inca Rulers from Machu Picchu. Who knows you might fall in love with the Peruvian culture too!
Every time we make our travel list, we must keep things that excite us. Does a glimpse of Rainbow Mountain of Peru excite you too? If yes, book a ticket, and let’s go TREK!