When we first heard about Vinicunca, more commonly referred to as “The Rainbow Mountain”, and checked it online, we immediately thought to ourselves “Oh boy, 100% Photoshop...”
100% Photoshop, right ? No, it's not.
The mountain looked so unusual and unreal that we had a hard time accepting that it actually existed.
Since this unique natural work of art was relatively close to Cusco, a town where we stayed at, we decided to pay it a visit and verify if it existed in the same way it was being presented online or in the local tourist agencies.
It’s safe to say that this is one of the most unbelievable spots that we’ve ever had an opportunity to visit so far !
Peruvian treasure - The Andes !
The road from Cusco to The Rainbow Mountain had lasted for about 3h.
We were already tired from many previous treks and have had enough of Peruvian bus rides for an entire year...so were like “This had better be worth it...”
It was. A 100 times more than we expected !
The plateau from which we were to observe the Rainbow Mountain stood at a whooping 5200m above sea level.
This meant that most inexperienced or unprepared climbers faced the risk of experiencing the infamous altitude sickness.
If you would like to know more about the altitude sickness, check out my article about our first Peruvian trek where I got a proper taste of it.
Always take your time to acclimatize, the altitude sickness is no joke.
The "Vinicunca" trek had started several kilometers further down from the actual mountain, at some 4350m above sea level.
Upon exiting the bus, the landscape wasn’t anything special...just some mud, several buses and few distant peaks covered in clouds.
It should be noted that we’ve just arrived from our Machu Picchu tour - which got us quite spoiled and highbrowed, lol.
Nothing special, right ?
We noticed many local people with horses that were waiting in front of the he main entrance of the Vinicunca natural resort. We also found out that these people were offering horseback rides all the way up to the top of the Rainbow Mountain.
Horse taxi anyone ?
"Don't just climb it, RIDE IT"
Honestly, we didn’t know how to feel about this...
I mean, you’ve come all this way to such an amazing place to experience this once once in a lifetime TREK and then just decide to be carried right until the end of it...
Some people said that the locals were offering this kind of service primarily to the people who experienced the altitude sickness but at the same time wanted to reach the top.
Actually, it should be the opposite. The people who experience the altitude sickness should immediately descend to a lower altitude and therefore lover its effect, which may be quite serious and, potentially, very dangerous.
Sorry, a horseback ride won't help you...
But hey, everyone has the right to chose the way in which they will complete their trek...However, the thing that we just couldn’t understand was the fact that these “horse taxi” guides were sharing the same road with all the other regular climbers. Ok, that doesn’t sound too bad but that’s not where the problem was...
Vinicunca is a really famous tourist attraction and the luxury of riding all those horses comes at a certain price.
You think that all of this is mud ? Think again...
Wait a minute, this doesn't smell like mud...
The problem was that ridiculously huge amount of horse poop (yeah, I also wanted to use the word “sh...”) was scattered practically everywhere along the entire road all the way up to the Rainbow Mountain - so it’s not hard to imagine just how bad it smelled.
So for all those eager to breathe all that fresh air of The Andes, sorry it’s not gonna happen on this trek. I mean, the air is quite fresh, but the smell..
Luckily, there were several luxury toilets along the way...
There were so many local "taxi" drivers that it felt as I we were on a holy pilgrimage, constantly being temped by the local "demons" that offered to make our difficult journey more easy and comforting, of course, at a certain price...
What fuel do these horses run on ? The premium $$$
We also came across some exclusive hotels along the way...
That solar panel...
...as well as some 3 Michelin star restaurants...
One poopbulée, please !
Anyway, as we skillfully avoided horseshit traps here and there (like Super Mario), almost unnoticeably, we’ve reached the part of the trek where we noticed a slight difference in the terrain.
Ok, this is getting interesting !
Small rocks found along the way we’re becoming separated in a river-like streams of different colors.
At first, the colors were not so clearly separable, but as we progressed further the contrast was starting to become much more clear.
Turquoise, purple, yellow, burgundy, pastel green. Those were the main rock colors that were starting to combine and overflow in a spectacular dance of tones, contrasts and transitions that left the lucky spectators in speechless awe. We were more than happy to have an opportunity to be among them.
You don't get to see scenery such as this everyday...
An eruption of colors...
This incredible specter of colors was formed by sedimentary mineral layers that have been exposed by erosion over the centuries.
Tired but at the same time hypnotized by our surrounding, which was steadily becoming more surreal with each new step, we have finally reached the plateau from which we were to observe the one and only, Rainbow Mountain.
I could go on and on about what we felt after we stood in front of this natural miracle, but I think this image will offer much more then any words out there:
Behold...The Rainbow Mountain!
Similarly to our experience in Machu Picchu, that clear and profound “Thank you” had clearly emerged from the deepest corners of our souls once again. We just stood there and looked...completely enchanted by the moment so surreal that we needed some time to process the actual sight.
What more do we need other than to be able to experience this inexplicably interesting and beautiful world ? I mean, just look at this mountain...
Sights like these make you feel as if you’ve landed on a different planet. But the thing is that most of us live in such limited realities, frequently called “our everyday lives”, that leaving them may feel as if we’re traveling to another world. So who needs different virtual game worlds, when we have the one in which we are actually living. The one with so many “expansion packs” and experience points which have the ability to drastically “power up” our being and soul.
I'm certain that these merchants will have some rare items !
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a BIG game enthusiast, it’s just that I realized that, for me, every next destination represents a “level up” which actually matters.
In my opinion, this world deserves nothing less other then to be explored and experienced in each and every aspect that it offers.
We just need to find our “play” button and start the everlasting adventure - the one we call LIFE !
So what's you're next big adventure ?
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