People have been messaging me NON-STOP the last few days about Rainbow Mountain. I’m talking HUNDREDS of people….so I’m here to write a blog on my trip to Rainbow Mountain with Rainbow Mountain Travels. Keep reading for my insider tips and how to ensure that you have the PERFECT hike to Rainbow Mountain.
What is Rainbow Mountain? Is it real?
High up in the Andes is a mountain where you’d expect to find a pot of gold at the end. This mountain used to be covered in snow and ice just a few years ago, but thanks to Global Warming, it melted and unleashed the colors you see today. The snow melted and mixed with the minerals in the ground – red areas are due to rust, yellows are due to iron sulphide, purples are from goethite, and the greens come from chlorite. Rainbow Mountain is real, I saw it with my own eyes and I can promise that it exists!
Now…how do I get there?
If you’ve ever been in Cusco, Peru…..you know that there’s 300 different companies for every activity you can think of. From Machu Picchu, to The Sacred Valley, to Rainbow Mountain…..it can be difficult to make a decision.
I think I walked in and talked to about 45 different companies in Cusco (Okay, I’m exaggerating a little bit….but at least 20). I was asking prices, when they left, the route they took, eeeevveeerrrything. I didn’t feel 100% content with any company until the very last one, go figure.
I sat down and gathered information from the lady behind the desk and knew right away I wanted to go with this company. They had experienced guides, provided oxygen, breakfast and lunch was included….sounded perfect. I sent some questions on Instagram before booking it for the next week. I was going for my birthday and it was going to be an early start….
“Pick-up is in between 3 and 3:30”
Most people cringe at the thought of venturing out that early – all I could think was “the earlier the better” 😉 It was to my surprise when the door bell rang at 2:58 AM. Was it them? WAS A SOUTH AMERICAN COMPANY ACTUALLY ON TIME?!
I opened the door to a man asking “Kim Charters? Rainbow Mountain?” That’s me! I walked with the man who would be my guide, Darwin. He explained we were stopping at one more hostel to pick up some other guests and then we would be on our way.
I crawled into the warm van waiting for us (Yes, this van actually provided heat….amazing). Darwin then passed out BLANKETS! We all curled up in our blankets and fell asleep for the first hour and a half of our journey – until we reached our breakfast point.
Breakfast is included with your tour. Darwin brought us fresh bread and a man with omelettes followed behind him. There was juice, coffee, tea, and already prepared coca tea waiting for us on the table when we entered. We ate quickly, used the bathrooms, and got back into our warm van. Another 1 hour and a half or so to go!
I woke up with about 25 minutes left of our journey due to the bumpy roads – but the sun was rising and the views were BEAUTIFUL. We pulled up to a lot where we would park, listen to a short briefing, and begin our trek. There were “bathrooms” available to use before we began, but they were basic to say the least.
Darwin explained for the first 5 minutes, we would all walk at the same, fairly quick pace. We would be stopping when we reached the last point to rent horses – everyone had to experience a bit of trekking with the difference in elevation and then make their decision.
My entire group decided against the horses and we began our trek. Darwin would be behind everyone – walking with the slower hikers and keeping an eye out on everyone. I was walking before everyone else – focusing on my breathing and the trail underneath my feet. I was moving quickly.
The trail itself wasn’t as bad as I imagined – the only problem was the altitude…..it was harder to breathe. I stopped and took a breath before the hardest part of the trek – where the only way to go was up. I told myself “a little bit more” and went on.
When I got to the top of that hill – all I had left was the peak. I sat down and snacked on my Snickers as my celebration.
When you reach this part of the trek – there is a local man selling coca tea and other snacks – if you’re feeling any sort of altitude sickness, this is where you want to sit down and take a tea before heading to the peak.
I took on the peak – stopping and breathing every 30 seconds. It took a few minutes and then there I was….I made it to Rainbow Mountain.
With Rainbow Mountain Travels, you get there earlier than most companies….so you get amazing photos without all of the people in them. We stayed up there taking photos and taking in the view for about 45 minutes. It was my birthday so of course I took a drink of a nice, cold beer at the top of the mountain. 😉
It was time for a group photo! It was SO COLD that I could barely feel my hands and we were all ready to head back to the (heated) van. At this point, you could see all of the groups coming up from different routes. In about 20 minutes, there would be hundreds of people at the top. I was so happy to avoid all of that….
On the way back to the van – the sun came out and I was quickly back to warmth. I stripped my hat, gloves, scarf, and jacket and carried on. I was taking in all of the beautiful views of the snow-capped mountains and local alpacas.
The trail to and from Rainbow Mountain was filled with photo opportunities itself.
I trekked back listening to Reggaeton and trying to motivate the people heading up the trail….typical Kim move.
We got back to the van and saw that dozens of other vans have arrived and people were just starting the trek when we had finished. I was happy.
Darwin gave us a lesson about all of the different minerals, animals, etc on the trail. Also explained us the differences between alpacas and llamas…..alpacas are cuter, basically. We talked and laughed and headed for lunch – which was going to be in the same restaurant as breakfast 1 hour and a half away.
Lunch was a mini buffet and they even gave me a little glass of gelatin with a candle in it and sang me “happy birthday”.
WOW! To say I was impressed with this trek and Rainbow Mountain Travels would be an understatement. I was happy with every part of this experience and it was the best way to spend my 23rd birthday. Who else can say they spent their birthday drinking a cold one at the top of Rainbow Mountain!? 😉 Head to their website to book your Rainbow Mountain Trek for only $30!
Thank you for reading my blog and leave a comment, send me an e-mail, or head to my contact page if you have any questions or comments regarding my trek to Rainbow Mountain – I’d be happy to answer them for you!