Damijan Vega @planetusApril 2018 · 7 min read

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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Such an incredible post. Makes me so excited to go! We are staying a month in Peru-flying into Lima, planning to explore the city there for a bit. We want to do Machuu Picchu of course, how far was the commute from Lima to here if you don’t mind me asking? Any tips you can give? Thanks so much! :D


Thank you ! The Rainbow Mountain was an insane experience...However, if you plan to visit Vinicunca all the way from Lima, you'll spend an entire day in a bus or maybe a bit less if if you rent a car. However, the roads in Peru aren't so good and it's much better to book a flight from Lima to Cusco. Reaching Vinicunca from Cusco, by bus, takes about 3 hours. It's a bumpy ride, but well worth it :)


Ooh I remember the roads very well in Peru, very bumpy and scary around turns... especially in the mountains!


I heard some crazy stuff about the busses there :D


Yes but most survive.... if you hitchhike there the custom is to give the driver the same amount the bus would cost you. Or at least that was rhe custom 10 years ago


Good to know!!! Thank you!


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Wow, thanks !


Nature has given us many miracles. This colourful mountains in Peru are one of those wonders.


They truly are ! :)


I've always loved rainbows since I was a child and it amazes me each time I see a rainbow in the sky but I've never thought that there's such a place called Rainbow mountain. This colorful mountain is indeed very special and so worth the long trek.This world is indeed full of wonders waiting for us to unfold. Thank you so much for sharing! =)


You're welcome 😊 Yes, there's something magical about rainbows...however, we didn't expect that we will a mountain version. See ya !


Jeeze, what a fun post! Your photos are triple-A aaawesome. And I greatly enjoy taking the vicarious journey with you. Looking forward to more of your travel journals.


Thanks 🙏! I really try my best to transfer the specific and, sometimes, funny and bizzare moments from around the world. Stay tuned for more 😉


Wow! I never knew about the rainbow mountains as well, they look so beautiful! A tough trek though! Altitude sickness can be a bitch. Thanks for the lovely photography and sharing the trip with us.


You're welcome 😉 Seeing this mountain was such an experience...
See ya !


Well my next adventure is in No More Traveling! Though once a traveler... always a traveler and since we are building homestead with a few families, it means we still will be able to travel here and there!

Yo this rainbow mountain looks so amazing... I wish I had knoen about it when I was in Cuzco! I had somewhat limited time, hitchicked from Santiago in Chille (on a break from filming a music documentary). But I did hick up to Choquequirao... I recommend that next time you go, also very amazing! Funny their flag is rainbow, I wonder if it has anything to do with the mountain?

Did you try the grilled guiny pig?

So beautiful, thanks for sharing and taking me down memory lane! (I ended up getting banned from Machu Picchu...oops)

Following you for sure!


Hey man ! Glad you enjoyed the article 😊
No, we haven’t..but we have tryed some lama and it wasn’t so bad. However, Peruvian potato was absolutely fantastic and we ate a ton of it, lol.
Thanks for the recommendation and see you ou there 😎


Of course you're welcome. I never tried Lama but I would. It's amazing how the Peruvian have 200 and some different kinds of potatoes!

Have you gone to the amazonian side of Peru?


Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to venture into the Amazon 😕 But next time, we won’t miss it ! Have you been there ?


Only in spirit! So many places to see so little time... I hope to go back to Peru one day though