I honestly hadn't known about Rainbow Mountain before I got to Peru. All I had in mind was Machu Picchu and delicious Peruvian dishes. Once I was there in Peru. Turned out, Rainbow Mountain is one of my top favorite places to visit and see with my own eyes. Though, there is some truth, fake news, overpriced tour company and other things you may need to know before it's your turn to go visit one. I do hope this Rainbow Mountain Post helps!
Wait, there's also this awesome video!
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Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca
Vinicunca, or Winikunka, also called Montaña de Siete Colores, Montaña de Colores (means '7-color mountain')
- It's not just 7 colors but in fact, 14 different, colorful minerals
- They say it's just discovered in 2015 but my Peruvian subscribes on Youtube told me it's discovered way before that. It's just kept as a secret for a few locals to visit at a time.
- Nowadays, it's even as famous as the Machu Picchu itself considering how many people visit Rainbow Mountain each day.
- Don't expect it to be as pretty as so colorful as on Instagram. (The truth hurts sometimes)
She's a beauty and also a pain in the a**
Rainbow Mountain is located in the Andes 3 hours away from the historical center. So yes, you will need to be in that 3 hours there and 3 hours back not including breakfast and lunch break to go enjoy this incredible mountain for an hour. Honestly, I didn't actually mind as on the way, nature and villages are really enjoyable to see. Ask yourself, 'If it's worth your time?'
Because how much time it needs to get there and back, some tour companies leave Cusco as early as 3 am. and I was like 'Are you serious?'. I went with the one that leaves Cusco Historical Area at 7ish so that's doable for me. Keep an eye open for the one that offers the right time and right price for your need!
The altitude is not a joke. Rainbow mountain is located at 5,200 meters above sea level. If you still can't imagine how high is that, it's more than half of Mount Everest. I thought 'How hard could it be?'. Wow, it can really be rough. Just the first few minutes, I gave up already so, get fit and be ready :) Spoiler alert! You can rent a horse!
Weather changes from a nice warm day to freeze to death! #lol Not exactly but it can change rapidly from snow to rain to the blistering sun in an hour. It happened when I was there! I almost wanted to take my hoodie off on the way going up but then at some point on the Rainbow Mountain, my mouth was shivering, the snow or some kind of hard rain hit my face hard for 10 hours, then it's sunny out again. If youj're that unlucky and be there on a foggy day, I'm sorry but all the money, effort and long ride will turn into nothing. #oopsy! I think that's crazy so be prepared!
Choosing a tour to get to Rainbow Mountain
A dime a dozen there in Cusco. You actually don't need to look for one but instead, they will come to find you! 'Rainbow mountain friends?' all around the main square, Plaza de Armas. All the hostel also offer their own tours or the ones they partner up with.
Not all tours are the same
Time: As mentioned, some leave as early as 3 AM and some are quite laidback and leave at 7 AM or even 8-ish because they choose the different hiking route. Yes, there are a few ways to hike to the top of the Rainbow Mountain, a shorter way, and the longer one.
Price: The price can also be as cheap as S/ 50 to $100+. Look at the currency difference! Cray cray right!? So the prices may affect the qualified guides and languages they speak, the 2 meals you will get both way, types of transportation, oxygen tanks, first-aid kit, how big or small the tour group will be and the route you take.
Route: There are a few entrances to enter the area of Rainbow Mountain and a few hiking trails. I don't mind paying for a little extra tour price for the longer ride and less hiking. Sorry to say but I'm literally not that big of a hiking fan especially with this high attitude.
Red Valley: Ohhhhhh yes! This is gorgeous! The sister to Rainbow Moutain as it's located just a 20-minute walk away. Some tour companies are willing to take you there for the including price and some don't even have the option for you to visit it at all. It's so pretty and it's just there so might as well kill 2 birds with one stone. I highly recommend it!
Oh! Especially, if a tour company offer to get you to the Red River, where all the minerals from this Red Valley go into the water and make it all red. That would be amazing to see. I was just not that lucky in finding one of those tours.
*Always ask if the entrance fees for both Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley are included in the price.
Renting a horse to get to the top of Rainbow Mountain (?)
It's hard! It's so darn hard.
I didn't think I couldn't do it. I was so ready and my heart was 100% 'I can do it'. Then after not even 10 minutes of walking once I got off the minivan. Even just slowly walk, it's just so hard to breathe, my legs feel weak and all became so uncomfortable.
Luckily, not just at the entrance where you can rent a horse but there are horses walking down from servicing other people so you can always get one on the way up and down. One way S/ 40 and S/ 70 for both way.
I rented one but did I regret it? It's not even a 10-minute horse ride for S/ 40. I laughed though it was a fun experience and good shot for my video. Also, it doesn't get you to the top of Rainbow Mountain, you gotta walk for at least another 10 minutes yourself. Now you laugh, how hard is the 10-minute walk. Well, not that hard until you're as high up as 16,000 feet above the sea level
So... 'Did I regret renting a horse?' 'Nah, I would do it again'
Rainbow Mountain is not what you think it would be
I actually kind of expected it. It's just so much lie on social media these days. On Instagram, all these super colorful like literally super colorful. How pink, how blue, and how green the Rainbow Mountain is. Don't get me wrong, it's so pretty! Both Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley. Perhaps one of the most amazing nature and mountains I have visited. It's just not as pretty as on Instagram.
Even though, some of my Peruvian subscribers on Youtube told me that, it depends on the day. Still, I don't think it could get so much prettier than I have seen that day. I got one quick sunny moment during the snow and rain. It's amazing varieties of whether they got there.
It's packed! My tour group was 15 people in total and maybe a few other group arrive there at the same time. Imagine how crowded it can get on the small space of the the top of the rainbow Mountian especially, when all just would love to take photos at that same IG hotspot.
Be prepared for Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley!
- You need sun block, sunglasses, a rain jacket, a hat, thick hiking socks, water, and snacks.
*There are a few local people sell drinks like coca tea and quick snacks there as well.
Total cost: My case, I pay S/ 60 tour + S/ 10 Rainbow Mountain entrance fee and + S/ 10 Red Valley entrance fee + S/ 40 one-way horse ride.
Lovely, Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley are so lovely! If you have so much time in Cusco, go for it. If not, think about the long rides for a short visit, would it worth your time?
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All copy and photos are original content by me.