Rainbow Mountain Peru
Peru is the world’s number one destination when it comes to adventure activities. For years now travellers have been flocking to Peru to hike the Inca Trail, explore the Amazon River and frolic with the alpacas. But, in the past couple of years a new addition has been made to Peru’s incredible outdoor tourism scene: Rainbow Mountain.
Rainbow Mountain Tour in Peru
Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca by the locals, is fast becoming one of the most popular hikes in Cusco, but it is not for the faint-hearted. The hike is one of the toughest on offer in this part of the world and walkers are expected to climb up to a staggering height of around 5200m above sea level. For anyone who has ever been at altitude then you will be aware that when you get this high you can start to feel unwell. The path is steep and in some parts pretty tough but it is worth it in the end for the views at the top.
Upon reaching the summit of Rainbow Mountain, hikers are met with spectacular views of the famous colorful mountain. If there was ever a snapshot that will make all of your Instagram followers jealous, it is this. Be sure to go when the weather is good as rain or snow will dull the colors and you might end up disappointed by what you see at the top. Fortunately, Peru’s weather is reasonably predictable, with April through to October being the dry but slightly colder season.
What Can I Expect?
On the day of your tour you will be picked up from your hotel at about 2:30 am. It is a horribly early start but the drive from Cusco to the trailhead takes about three hours so you may be able to catch a bit of sleep on the way there. Once you arrive, your tour guide will give you a safety talk and a quick briefing. Then the fun begins.
The first part of the walk is almost completely flat and really easy. This lasts for about 15 minutes and is a nice warm up before it starts to get harder. The incline will then increase and you will make your way to the summit. Overall, it takes roughly two hours to get to the top and then another hour to get back down. Most groups are allowed around 45 minutes at the top to enjoy the view and take some photos.
Tours include transport to and from the site, breakfast and oxygen. This last element is important because it could stop you from getting altitude sickness. Rainbow Mountain is not far off Everest Base Camp in terms of altitude. Fortunately, the tour guides who run the trips are well aware of the effects this can have on people and come stocked up with oxygen cylinders to help those that struggle.
- You do not need any specialist hiking equipment to climb Rainbow Mountain. A pair of sturdy trainers or hiking boots will do fine.
- It is hard to dress appropriately for Rainbow Mountain as the climate changes as you get higher. The best thing to do is to wear several different layers, with your outermost layer being a waterproof windbreaker. As you climb you can add or remove layers as you heat up and cool down.
- Make sure you take plenty of water with you but not so much that it will weigh you down.
- Spend a few days in Cusco before you attempt the hike – you will need this time to acclimatize to the altitude.
- If you are exhausted during your trip and don’t want to continue with the hike, there are touts that sell horse rides to the top of the mountain for 70 soles ($20).
- It is a good idea to take some snacks with you to keep your energy up during the hike. Energy bars and bananas work well but make sure you gather up all of your rubbish and take it down the mountain with you.
- Taking a supply of coca leaves or coca sweets with you to chew. As you climb higher the coca will help combat the altitude sickness.
- Take sunscreen with you even if it is an overcast day. The sun’s rays can burn you through the clouds and at that height the rays can be really intense. It is worth lathering up at the start of the hike even if it doesn’t look like you will need it.
There’s no denying that Rainbow Mountain is a challenge. However, it is far from impossible and the feeling of accomplishment upon reaching the top is truly exhilarating. For more information about Rainbow Mountain Peru tours, please contact us or call 1-888-215-3555.