On January 11, I got up at 2am to embark on my adventure to the Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca, which is the Quechuan name of this unique stone formation. Our knowledgeable guide Noah explained that Vini is Quechuan for “Colorful” and Cunca stands for “Neck”.
After driving away from Cusco for three hours, we had breakfast at a small village house. Still frozen and tired, we got back on the van and left for another 20min ride to the foot of the mountain. At 5:50am, we started our hike through a Qechuan village with Llamas and Alpacas all around us.
The hike itself is not very difficult, the only thing that makes it challenging is the altitude. You start at 4,440m and climb to maximum heights of 5,200m. Noah made sure we stopped often, had enough water and entertained us with local tales. After 3 hours we reached the first lookout point at the Rainbow Mountain. It was still foggy, but we decided to climb to the top already and wait for the skies to clear. As soon as we got to the top, I started smiling and it did not go away until I fell asleep on the van ride back to Cusco.
About 20mins later, we started seeing the sun, the fog left and we were able to take pictures. Most tours start later than the one I was on, which made for perfect, all-nature-no-people pictures.We took turns getting our pictures taken and also took a couple of funny group ones. Noah went on to explain the different colors of the mountain, which are due to the minerals found in each type of stone. Those with a high concentration of iron are red, copper leads to green and sulfate is the reason for a yellow coloring.
When the sun came out all the way, it was warm enough to ditch our jackets and hats. We continued to admire the views for a little longer, until larger groups started to arrive. While the rainbow mountain itself is quite the attraction, do not forget to turn around and admire the rugged landscape right behind you.
On our way down, we spotted many locals with horses, who were taking up people who could no longer walk. After a little photo session with one of the horses and its owner, we continued our way down, where we were served lunch, prepared by a local chef. The food was delightful and we were ready to get back to Cusco at 1pm.
The trip was definitely the highlight of my visit to Peru, and I would recommend everyone who is physically able to, to take the trek. Be advised, that two to three days of acclimatization in Cusco are advised and even then, altitude sickness might occur. You probably want to take some coca leaves with you, which are legal to chew in Peru. Ideally, your guide will carry oxygen as well. Ours did, but luckily, no one in the group needed it.
I hope you will have a similarly amazing experience if you decide to go on this trek. I can wholeheartedly recommend my tour company, FlashpackerConnect.