As the alarm starts to ring at 5am signalling the start of our Rainbow Mountain trek day we wake up in a buzz of excitement. The early start is needed to get from Cusco to the Rainbow Mountains a 3 hour drive away. Our tour guide encouraged us to some shut eye on route as he warned of the long day ahead.
After a quick stop for a basic breakfast in a small town we continued our journey to the mountain.
Tip: Its worth remembering plenty of snacks as the group won’t stop for lunch until after the hike, many hours later.
Arriving at the starting point of the hike, the altitude hits you. Leaving Cusco at an altitude of 3,200m we had now risen to 4,000m above sea level. With the summit being over further 1,000m at 5,200m we strongly recommend having a few days in Cusco to acclimatize.
The total length of the hike is 15k, 7.5 up and 7.5 down. With incredible snow capped mountains visible from the start, the beauty of the hike was in full display from the moment we started walking.
The first challenge of the day comes at 1K where hordes of locals wait with mules who can be hired to take you up and down the mountain. The cost is around 70 soles.
Hiking Tour Rainbow mountains
Although a very tempting offer we felt that the reward of viewing the incredible rainbow mountains is all the sweeter for hiking up and pushing yourself.
Unlike other tours we have done in Peru where the guides would stay close by regularly stopping the group to provide information. Here, the guides loosely follow, allowing walkers to go at their own pace with only one way up and down there is no chance of getting lost.
The track passes beautiful streams, small local villages where lots of lamas and alpacas can be seen. As the summit approaches the path kicks up, mixed with the high altitude the pace of almost all walkers slows.
A tip we had learned from our Inca Trail guide came in very handy; Turnaround facing down the mountain and take five deep breath’s. Also the key is not stopping for too long just keep moving forward.
The final push
The mountains colours are best on display when the sun is shinning. But as we approached the final push to the top, dark clouds loomed on the horizon. We picked up the pace and arrived before the sun went behind the clouds just in time to show us the true colours of the mountain!
Wow we both said to each other on reaching the summit. Partly from being out of breath, but it also summed it up well.
With the hike up taking about three hours we had plenty of time to take pictures and soak up the scenery before we were off back down the same route to the bus and returning to Cusco.
All in all, the rainbow mountain track is an incredible experience but is very tough so prepare properly by acclimatizing and getting a good nights sleep before no drinking Pisco sours and a magical experience awaits you. Definitely one for the bucket list!
This blog is written by Hollie & Dominic. We hope that you enjoy this blog as much as we did. Don’t forget to show love by following them.