The Highlight of Your Trip to Peru
by Rachel Daley
by Rachel Daley
Now, I’m not saying DON’T go to Machu Picchu…
Or any of the other famous attractions in Peru that you’ve heard so much about. I mean we all want that photo at Machu Picchu with a llama photo-bomb, but what if I told you that one of the top must-see sites in Peru is NOT on most of the tourist lists?
I’m talking about Rainbow Mountain, otherwise known as Vinicunca Mountain.
Break time on the first day tour Rainbow Mountain
Just 3 hours north of Cusco, the Ausangate trek up to Rainbow Mountain is a lesser-known favorite of travelers who get the authentic Peruvian experience.
Less tourists, more space, more time to appreciate the natural wonder Peru has to offer. Yes, still go to Machu Picchu, but wouldn’t it be cool to go somewhere not everyone else has been?
Hard hike, A challenge worth doing
If you want to see the hidden corners of Peru that not many get to see, Rainbow Mountain should be on your list. And here’s why:
Because Vinicunca is a bit out of the way, not as many tourists venture here as the higher profile destinations. It is also not the easiest hike, so that weeds out some that would rather explore the city. Either way, if you time it right, when you get to the top you won’t be rushed to take one photo and head back down, or get a bunch of unwanted tourists throwing off your photos.
(FUN FACT: While there are less tourists here, there are still plenty of llamas and alpacas!)
A family of Vicuñas was following us!
I’m not gonna lie to you. Getting to the top of Rainbow Mountain isn’t a leisurely stroll through the park. But that being said, you can get that huge feeling of satisfaction and victory of getting to the top even if you aren’t someone who hikes on the regular. First, there are options to rent horses which could give you a break. But also, if you have the right guide that knows the nooks and crannies of the Ausangate Trek, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’ll make it there on your own pace, in one piece.
Our VSA guide Noah was the best!
There is nowhere else on the planet that you’ll get to see quite the same phenomena as Rainbow Mountain in Cusco. The bright and colorful layers of different sediments and minerals have been tilted overtime to show vertically the way they do. No other mountains even come close. To say you’ve seen this underrated wonder of the world with your own eyes is a great souvenir for a true traveler.
Finally we reach the summit!
Now that Rainbow Mountain is on your bucket-list, here are a few little-known tips that will help your Ausangate trek go smoother and safer
When we think of sunburn we think about sunscreen for our skin, and if you’ve ever missed a spot you know how bad a small spot can hurt! Now imagine your lips being chapped AND sunburned. No bueno. So make sure you bring chapstick with SPF because the sun can be harsh out there on Rainbow Mountain. Yes your lips can get sunburnt, and it’s fairly common on this trek!
Now, whoever is the one behind the camera is not going to be very happy about what I’m going to say, but trust me that it will be worth it. Weather it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife, ask them to keep hiking up the mountain until you look very small in the camera. The sense of scale you get with the mountain is insane! Especially if you get to the mountain before all the crowds roll in. Another piece of advice would be to make it all the way to the mirador and appreciate the views in every direction. You’ll see red,purple, and green valleys, snow-capped peaks, and indescribable landscapes that will leave you breathless.
Ps: If you come with us, you’re assured being one of the first people on the mountain! Making getting epic photos that much more easier. And more importantly, taking in the mountain for what it truly is without the rustle and bustle of the crowds.
Altitude sickness is no joke but if you take certain steps to prevent it, it doesn’t have to get in the way of your epic Ausangate trek. Drinking coca tea, chewing coca leaves, or eating coca candy (anything to do with the coca leaf) will help with altitude sickness. It’s a sacred practice to indigenous communities, but they also know what they’re talking about… it helps make you feel better!
Yes your shoes should be comfortable, but for hiking up Vinicunca Mountain you’re gonna need a little thing called TRACTION. Whether you’re an avid hiker or a newb looking to get into the adventure game, hiking shoes with good traction will be your best friend and life saver. Lookin’ fly won’t be.
Finally we reach the summit!
Many travelers go all around Peru without seeing one of the most amazing natural wonders it has to offer… Rainbow Mountain. If you’ve got a bucket list with off-the-beaten-path locations to see, this has to be on it.
With the right guide you’ll know when the best times are to go, tips for staying safe and healthy along the way, and get the true Peruvian experience.
Whether you want a quick day trip or a more relaxed trek, Visit South America has 1-6 day trips to Rainbow Mountain available, complete with experienced guides who love adventure just as much as you do. Vinicunca is waiting for you… just go!
Are you ready for your next adventure? Let your travel amigos at Visit South America show you the best there is to see on this beautiful continent. We have year ‘round departure dates and tours to fit every travel style. Start packing your bags – click here to see our small group trips!