Rainbow Mountain Cusco Peru is one of the most beautiful natural wonders I have ever seen. Coming to Peru you often hear about treks through the mountains in Huaraz, the Sacred Valley, Colca canyon and of course the famous Matchu Pitchu. However, without a doubt the well kept secret of Rainbow Mountain needs to be up there in your hit list.
A few months ago my brother and some of his friends had done this trek just after arriving in Cusco. Despite being slightly worse for wear due to a few too many cervezas, and the lack of acclimatisation - they came back after an 8 hour day high as kites! This wasn't just because of the altitude, but because of the natural beauty they had been immersed in all day. I knew I had to see this Rainbow Mountain for myself.
SO, a month later I return to Cusco and decide to book onto the Rainbow Mountain tour with Conde Travel. It's an early COLD start, but, 3 hours later we wake up to a energy filled breakfast of eggs, bread, tea (including coca which will help with the altitude) coffee and jam. By this point the sun has come up but it is still absolutely freezing! Once back in the van the view takes our minds off the cold as we drive through a valley with the rock faces towering above us either side and electric blue river rushing below.
Once we arrive we are all eager to get moving and our blood pumping. After the first twenty minutes we have lost nearly all our layers - it's still only 9am but the sun is strong! The walk from here was amazing. We walked through a valley with a few small villages and children playing in the streams, and mountains, mountains, mountains as far as they eye can see - all sizes shapes and textures. After about an hour and a half I was starting to wonder what everyone was talking about with the altitude. However then came the climb. It wasn't that it was hard incline, but the oxygen quickly decreases as you climb higher and higher towards the Rainbow. As we inclined you can begin to see some of the red and green colours emerging from the mountain ahead - but at this point the surroundings were still more beautiful to me - especially the snow caped mountain which kept stealing my attention.
The last hour was tough, the incline becomes steeper steeling your breath with every step, no matter what a chatterbox you are this will keep you quite. BUT, once you make it to the little ruin on top of the pass, you find enough breath to join the chorus of 'oohs' and 'ahhhs' as you get your first glimpse of the colours in the mountains. After regaining some breath you literally walk on top of the ridge of the mountain for about 40 meters until you reach the 5200m! This was a challenge, although the altitude made me unsteady on my feet, I couldn't help turning round to see the Rainbow Mountain. At the top you get the panoramic view not only of the mountain ranges stretching into the distance but also the intense natural colours. It was amazingly beautiful!
After a 2 hour hike down we got back into the van and once the whole group was back we headed off back to Cusco. You have to go to Rainbow Mountain and I would highly recommend Conde Travel Tours! The tour was very well organised, the bus left on time, the driver and guide were friendly and chatty, it included breakfast and lunch which were delicious and... we got back (nearly) on time! Also, just to add one of the guys on our tour suffered badly from altitude sickness and the guide took care of him and did not leave his side, they were very well trained and helpful.
Overall an absolutely amazing must-do experience!
DO give yourself enough time to acclimatise in Cusco - the top is 5200m - it's high!
DO bring warm clothes, and suncream - we got back looking like Rudolf
DO this trek - it's a challenge but the views are so so worth it
DO it through Conde Travel!