Endeavour to reach the top and you’ll reap the rewards.
Rainbow Mountain is known for the spectacular spectrum of colours.
However it isn’t a simple endeavour, with the altitude, the steep incline and the changing climate you might be tempted to hire a horse to the half way point.
But that would surely waste the emotional and physical reward at the peak.
Our tour picked us up at 3am in Cusco, then stopped at a restaurant around 1hour away. Here we sat and had a fresh omelet, bread and jam and tea/coffee before another 1-2 hours to the trek starting point.
Our guide kindly explained the route and the option to hire a horse for an extra S/10. This option is available for those who feel uncomfortable with the first 1hour of the hike, however you must complete the last uphill section by yourself as the altitude is too high for the animals.
The first hour is majorly flat through the valley. Here you enjoy the peace of nature while rambling through some sections of mud. Every few minutes a horse will pass you with a local horsemen running in front.
Unfortunately, some parts of the path are in disrepair but we advise watching your feet and looking for the easiest way around the mud tracks.
The mountain slowly reveals itself after 45minutes and so does the effects of the altitude.
At this stage you are above 4,000m and it is very normal to feel dizzy, nauseous, breathless and tired when at this altitude and guides are ready to support and help you along the way.
Having a supply of coco leaves or sweeties with help take away some of the effects as you climb. Take them in moderation however!!
After an hour you will reach stopping point for the horsemen. Then you are faced with this uphill mud slide:
Ropes at one side can be used to pull yourself up but take your time. We witnessed many people sprinting up only to be gasping for air a few seconds later. Slowly does it.
Once you have reached the top, there is a welcome surprise of alpacas and other hikers taking some shelter behind a stone wall. Locals also sell hot drinks and snacks here if you are in need of some heat and energy.
The temperature fluctuates dramatically throughout the trek so bring transferable clothing and wear basic terminal layers.
At the stone wall marker, we were wearing our jumpers and raincoats as well as hats gloves. Be prepared for the cold.
However, this isn’t the top. You have another 10-20minutes to the peak of Mountian Winikunka. Unfortunately, you can’t walk to the top of the actual rainbow mountain and it is obvious to see why. The ridge is basically loose stone and with the amount of hikers making the trip, the integrity and shape would be lost.
But, don’t be too disappointed! The view at the top of yet another mud slide is worth it.
All photo credits belong to: Nadine Kremer