Experiencing the Ьгeаtһtаkіпɡ grandeur of Peru’s Rainbow Mountains reveals a mesmerizing spectacle.


Geological origin

The color of Vinicunca is because a geological formation accumulated over time by the mixture of marine, lake and river elements. This gathering of minerals dragged by the waters of the mountain range, the winds and the humidity, has caused the oxidation of the place and has made that the mountain acquire that magical diversity of tones.

Geologists and experts in the field affirm that this phenomenon has been discovered thanks to the melting of the glaciers that formerly covered the mountain and that constantly received snow until the early nineties.

The popularity of Vinicunca expanded only five years ago thanks in large part to trekking and mountaineering lovers who were amazed by this unique phenomenon. The majesty of its colors and the peculiarity of its landscape began to be posted on social networks.

On Instagram, for example, thousands of Internet users reacted to the publication and shared it on their own social networks, creating a multiplier effect. The American site Business Insider included Vinicunca as part of a list of the 100 essential places to visit in the world.

To go to Vinicunca you must take a transport from the city of Cusco that takes you to the town of Checacupe. From there, you must continue the journey to the town of Pitumarca to finally reach Pampachiri This whole journey will take you about two or three hours. In this town, you can buy the ticket to enter the Vinicunca area, which has a cost of ten soles for foreign tourists and five soles for Peruvians.

Pampachiri is the starting point of a hike that lasts approximately three hours. It is important that, before your trip, you start doing some type of cardiovascular exercise to be able to sustain the physical demands that the trip requires.

Remember that the Vinicunca mountain is located at a height of more than 5000 meters above sea level, so it is advisable to condition the body. Also, don’t forget to bring non-perishable food and a bag to store your waste. Follow these tips to have a pleasant moment that you will never forget.

You might be surprised to learn that Rainbow Mountain in Peru only became a popular tourist destination during the past decade.

That’s because it used to be covered in snow and ice year-round, but due to climate change, the glacier caps have melted to reveal the colorful mountain underneath. Its colors are the result of different types of minerals in the earth, such as iron, copper, and manganese.

Rainbow Mountain in Peru is known by several names, including Vinicunca, Winikunka, and Montaña de Siete Colores.

The peak of the mountain is 5,200 meters (17,100 ft) above sea level, so some altitude sickness is to be expected when trekking the mountain – but more on that later.

In Peruvian culture, Rainbow Mountain symbolizes masculinity and fertility and is considered to be a very sacred place that protects the local villages from evil.

Rainbow Mountain is located here in the Ausangate massif, which is part of the Andes mountain range.

You’ll likely head here on a day trip from Cusco as it’s located 82 kilometers (51 miles) away. That might not sound like a very long distance, but it takes around 3 hours to get there.

The vast majority of visitors to Rainbow Mountain opt for a tour. There is no reliable public transport to get to the mountain, so unless you , it’s best to book a tour. And even then, it’s best to leave the winding mountain roads to the experts.

A Rainbow Mountain visit is a full-day activity and tours usually leave from Cusco very early in the morning, so no partying the night before!

The Rainbow Mountain Trail is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) long which may not sound very far but trust me, it feels about 5 times as far when you’re actually doing the hike.

The mountain’s base altitude is 4,326 meters (14,189 feet) and the peak is 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) above sea level.

To put that into perspective, Rainbow Mountain is taller than any mountain in North America and its peak has roughly the same altitude as Mount Everest’s base camp.

The hike is definitely doable for anyone with a decent level of fitness, but it’s also safe to say that it isn’t for the faint of heart!

Most people find the Rainbow Mountain Trail to be pretty challenging due to the altitude. The hike itself takes around 2 hours and has an elevation gain of 20%, so it’s no walk in the park, but it’s not impossible, either.

However, the real challenge of Rainbow Mountain is the altitude. Rainbow Mountain is one of the highest treks in all of Peru, and even if you’re reasonably fit, you might find yourself struggling to catch your breath.

I won’t lie – I did struggle with the hike.

I got a pretty bad headache not long after we set off, and I definitely wasn’t the only one in the tour group experiencing altitude sickness. However, it was also an incredible experience and definitely worth the effort.

If you’re worried about the Rainbow Mountain hike being too challenging, don’t worry – you can rent a horse to take you up (and down) the mountain. This way, all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the views while the horse does the work.

The horses are available at the trailhead and cost around $18 USD. There are a limited number of horses and they’re available on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you want to guarantee a horse then it’s best to book a tour in advance.

This tour on horseback includes transportation to and from the mountain, your own horse, and a delicious local lunch after the hike. It’s a 6-hour experience as you’ll leisurely make your way up and down the mountain on horseback. It’s great to give your feet a break but still enjoy the incredible scenery. The tour is $120 USD.

Alternatively, you can take an ATV up the mountain for around $85 USD. This takes a lot of the effort out of Rainbow Mountain and certainly injects some adrenaline-fuelled fun into the day!

It’s best to hike Rainbow Mountain during Cusco’s dry season because, let’s be honest, no one wants to do a strenuous hike in the rain.

The dry season falls between April and November, with Rainbow Mountain being at its busiest (and therefore most crowded) during June, July, and August. So if you visit between April and May or September and November, you’ll get the best of both worlds: fewer crowds and better weather.

During the rainy season, the trail can be wet and muddy, making the hike even more difficult. Visibility is also often poor during this time, meaning that you get relatively little reward for all of your effort. There are also sometimes mudslides that block the road, making it impossible to reach Rainbow Mountain at all.

It’s also best to avoid hiking the mountain on the weekend because this is when many locals visit Rainbow Mountain, and the trail can get very crowded.

As for the best time of day, you should try and avoid midday. Hiking between 7-9 am, or after 2 pm will help you to avoid the crowds and make the most of your time on the mountain.

I will say that hiking early means leaving Cusco between 3-4 am, but Rainbow Mountain is definitely worth sacrificing a night of sleep for.

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