It sounds like something you would dream about as a kid, some sort of story where hills & mountains are covered in colourful sweets. Well, that’s the kind of image I get when I heard about Rainbow Mountain. To be honest, I wasn’t far off. Ok, it wasn’t covered in a load of sweets but it was the most colourful piece of nature i have ever seen!
The most incredible natural wonder…
Most natural wonders have been around for decades, if not longer. And I know, when something is amazing & beautiful, tourists flock to see it. We are those tourists! You read about things on google, see fancy pictures on instagram and add it on to your dreamy bucket list. No doubt, someone you know has probably been there, done that. But how about going somewhere only discovered a few years ago. Somewhere brand new and getting to see something in all its glory before spoilt by tourist convenience.
Well here you go…
Rainbow Mountain was only discovered 3 years ago as it used to be covered in snow and ice. Until due to the obvious climate change, all of that melted and revealed something incredible. Bittersweet really. As scary as climate change is, it has allowed us to see what was hiding under there. At 5,200 metres high, Rainbow Mountain is an incredible wonder and one to go and see!
So how do you go and see this wonder?
As Rainbow Mountain has only just been discovered, it is a popular tourist site from Cusco. A lot of people are beginning to add it onto their travels along with the Inca Trail. So all tourist companies are promoting this tour and its kind of the ‘thing to do’ if your visiting Cusco. We read about Rainbow Mountain when we were on the Peru Hop bus and read a leaflet from Rainbow Mountain Travels…Straight to the point kind of name! The price was good, the company looked pretty decent and it had really good reviews, so why not.
Click below to book your tour;
Duration; 3am- 3pm. (What’s different about this tour compared to others, it the time they pick you up. Other tour companies will pick you up around 4/5am and by the time you arrive at Rainbow Mountain, your sharing with tons of other people. Although 3am is tough, Rainbow Mountain Travels have the right idea. You completely beat the crowds and literally are sharing the mountain with seriously not a lot of people!)
Physical Level- You don’t need to be incredibly fit to do this hike. It is only really two hours, depending on your speed. The only tricky thing is the altitude. 2 hours seems like 4 and it does get quite tough but you can go at your own pace.
Transport; the tour company will pick you up from your hotel early morning and drop you back to the centre early afternoon. They even provide blankets for the journey there as depending on the season, it can get quite chilly!
Breakfast & Lunch; Bare in mind breakfast is quite basic so maybe take some snacks with you to keep your energy up or if you get a bit peckish later on.
What’s not included…
If you struggle with the altitude and feel you cannot complete the hike. They do have horses at the entrance you can take to the base of the mountain. They will charge you around 80 peso’s or depending on where they pick you up on the hike, it will be reduced. I recommend getting a horse if you do genuinely begin to struggle but it’s definitely worth trying and challenging yourself because it is so so worth it once you up there knowing how far you’ve come.
The hike itself isn’t that difficult, it is just the level of altitude that makes it harder. Hiking while being over 4000m is tough and when you start ascending to the top, it becomes even harder. The beginning is what they call ‘Inca Flat’. It’s basically walking on a flat level but going up and down small hills. The scenery is beautiful and its genuinely a lovely walk.
When you get nearer to the base of the mountain, it becomes harder and for us, our breathing was definitely a challenge. We have been to various altitudes throughout Peru so I thought we would be used to it, but we still struggled. Joe especially as he began getting headaches. Just make sure you stay hydrated and take painkillers if necessary.
From a short distance you can see the summit and you’ll probably think, how on earth are we supposed to get up there! It literally seemed impossible to us and we even discussed not even getting there. “We can get a good photo from half way, can’t we?” These are the kind of questions we asked each other trying to justify not walking to the top. We got half way and joined others of the group for a quick rest and some snacks to give us a little boost. Joe and I looked at each other and thought, we really can’t come this far and not get to the top. It really wasn’t that far, we were just running on empty. But up we went and yes! We got to the top!
What a view!!
We have literally never seen anything like it. Who would have thought a mountain could be so colourful! Not just the usual green’s or yellows kind of thing, but blues & reds! What kind of mountain was this! The view went on for miles and to begin with, we didn’t realise actually how cold it was up there. 5200 metres high, yeah it was chilly! We stayed at the top for about 20 mins, taking hundreds of photos and just taking it all in. We were so happy to have got to the top but also couldn’t really believe what was infant of us.
Visiting Red Valley
Then the guide said, “do you want to go to the red valley?”. To be honest, We weren’t that really fussed. It meant more walking and we were pretty much dead. We had seen Rainbow Mountain so didn’t really think Red Valley would compare. However, the rest of the group were keen so we couldn’t really say no. So off we went. It actually only took about 40 mins and it wasn’t a difficult hike so we made it there pretty quickly and wow were we glad we went!! The views and the hills were just as colourful as Rainbow Mountain. The views were insanely beautiful!! It was definitely a Wow moment!!
When we started to head back down to the minivan, it all became so clear as to why the company wanted to pick us up at 3am. There were so many people beginning their hike just as we were finishing ours. Some of the paths weren’t even big enough for two lines of people going both ways to we had to sometimes let queues of people go past which seemed crazy! The worst was seeing the amount of people who chose to get a horse rather than walking. In my opinion, if you going to see the beauty of a mountain like that, at least challenge yourself to hike it!
Booking with Rainbow Mountain Travel
Compared to 1 or 2 minivan’s in the morning, the car park was now full. So if you are unsure about the 3am start, don’t be. Don’t go any later or you will probably end up regretting it.
What to take with you…
- Take some small accessible snacks just incase you need an energy boost or if you get a little peckish.
- Depending on the season, the weather can really vary. We were cold in the morning, warm during the hike and then cold at the top of the mountain. So try to take a waterproof and jumper with you just incase the weather isn’t on your side and it get’s a bit chilly.
- Suncream; even when you feel cold, the sun is really strong and can have strong UV Rays.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Plenty of water.
- Your camera!
Something so unique and beautiful…
Like I said Rainbow Mountain has only recently been discovered and in just 3 years and hundreds of people are already crowding the place. I would hate for the site to get spoilt and hope that people can respect it because something so unique needs to be kept special. Try to go and visit Rainbow Mountain while you can and while it is still new. It is such an amazing place to visit and when you go, you’ll realise how incredibly unique and beautiful it is.
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