Wednesday 29th August – Rainbow Mountain (Montaña de Colores)

The pick up time for this day tour was 2.15am – the most crazy yet! But I´d read that it was worth it to get up early and beat the crowds of thousands of tourists that descend on the Rainbow Mountain each day. It was a 3 hour drive in the dark in the cold van out to the trail head. When we arrived at 5.30 we were one of the first vans there. We had a quick take-away breakfast in the van of a roll, some fruit and cocoa tea and then it was time to leave our warm van haven and begin the climb up to the top of Rainbow Mountain. Our guide Roswell told us that the ascent would take us about 3 hours. The distance wasn’t too great but the altitude (at around 5000m) would make each and every step much more difficult! 

We had a nice small group of just six too which was great. The others in the group were all from different Spanish speaking countries originally but now were all living in Miami. They were super friendly and we got to make the trip in Spanish which was great practice for me!

I didn´t have too much trouble with the ascent, just going slowly and at my own pace. We were one of the first groups at the top and the scenery was just amazing! The way the minerals have layered on the Rainbow mountain is spectacular. Roswell told us that the mining companies were originally given permission to explore this area and found heaps of different minerals such as copper, Iron Oxide, Chloride and even silver. Eventually, rather than exploiting them for their mineral potential, the mountain has been left for the locals to worship at and for the tourists to enjoy.  Off in the distance we could see the snow-capped 5th highest peak in Peru – Nevado Ausangate at 6384m. And off in the distance we could see the large hordes of tourists beginning the hike hours after we had started! After a bit of time taking in the magnificence of the vista, it was time to head a little ways down the mountain and then around to take in a view of the Red Valley. The views here were just as amazing and we could see a little bit more green down in the valley below which contrasted with the dark red of the rock. It really did look like a scene from Mars! The final step in the journey was to head  back down through the scree to the main track and then retrace our steps to the parking lot where there were now a lot more vans! We stopped for lunch halfway back to Cusco and were back at the hostel by about 3pm – with a pounding altitude headache but a feeling of tired well being after an amazing day of trekking.