Day trip to Rainbow Mountain
Photos and text: Juna Cavens
It was Sunday the 12th of march, in Cusco. 01:30 AM. I woke up all excited but I still had one hour left before my alarm would go off. Finally, at 3:30 AM the taxi driver was there to pick me up. I waited for the group and at 4AM we were ready to go.
After a 3h drive through the valley, along a mountain path we arrived at the starting point of the trek. Once we got out of the van, the chilly wind hit us. All bundled up, we had breakfast, some bread and a hot cup of tea or coffee. With a lot of stands from the locals offering water and other necessities, the starting point was a little crowded.
Ready to go we started walking. Soon we realized it was not going to be an easy trek. We could really feel the altitude and every step took a lot of breath! But eventually we arrived at the first checkpoint, where a lot of locals were waiting for us with dozens of horses ready to carry people up the mountain. While we had our hiking boots on, the locals managed to do this trek on their self-made sandals. This amazed us because the path was very muddy at certain points. But that didn’t seem to bother them at all!
We decided that two people of the group better rent a horse, otherwise we would never make it in time.
And there we went. Two of us on a horse and the guide, the third one of the group and myself by foot. The longer we walked the better we could handle the altitude. And while we were walking, this beautiful scenery surrounded us. Mountains in all kinds of different colors, red, grey, green. We asked the guide if this were already Rainbow Mountains. He told us that this was nothing compared to what we would see in a couple of hours.
But we still thought this was a beautiful view!
The path was nothing like I had ever seen before. There were parts that we very steep, but there were also parts that were like Pampa’s, flat large pieces of land between the mountains. So, these last parts weren’t that hard to walk.
Halfway through the trek we suddenly saw the peak that we had to reach to see Rainbow Mountain. This peak already revealed a small part of the colors of the mountain. So, we were getting more excited to get up there. We continued walking and finally, after some very hard and very steep parts we arrived at the peak.
Once up there, there was a very strong cold wind, that hit is right in the face. But what also hit us was the beautiful Rainbow Mountain, La Montaña de Siete Colores. As far as we could see these colors, red, yellow, purple, blue, green and grey covered the whole mountain. This view was just STUNNING!!
We enjoyed the view for about an hour, took some pictures and some of us even went the 20m extra to reach the other peak from where we could see the mountain even better. But I couldn’t stay there for a very long time as the wind was freezing off my hands, as everyone was asking me to take a picture of them.
The guide also told us that it was a tradition to offer three Coca leaves to the mountain. To say thank you for the hike and the beautiful view. So, if this is really a tradition, then why not do this as well. And so we did, we all offered three Coca leaves and blew them into the air so the wind could take them wherever it wanted.
After this we went back down, this was not as hard as going up, but still not to underestimate. Although while going down there was even more time to look at the beautiful scenery surrounding us.
After 7h we were at our starting point again. All of us very satisfied that we did it!
We had lunch and left the mountain behind us to go back to Cusco.