Vinicunca also called as the Rainbow Mountain is a mountain recently discovered by travellers. It is located around 100km away from the city of Cusco, by car around 3-hour drive away. Many travel agencies arrange one or two-day trips to the mountains.
Before coming to Peru, I saw these amazing pictures from the mountains coloured just like a rainbow and thought I need to go there. I tried Googling but only found information about Chinese rainbow mountains. After intensive online stalking and researching, I found out that here are trecks arranged from Cusco. YEY! I left my research work to this point and decided to open the case again once I am in Cusco.
As living in a hostel, I heard several stories about the treck to the Rainbow mountains. All of them said it was tiring, exhausting but totally worth it! One after another described the tour also good. I thought I'd do Machu Picchu first as it's easier and at a lower elevation (2400 meters).
However, this Thursday I got asked if I want to join 5 other accommodating in the hostel to the treck. I thought about it and decided to take the offer. The day before we went to get the tickets from a travel agency nearby with 55 soles. It included the transportation and a guide. We decided to bring our own food.
The next morning at 4 o'clock our driver came to pick us up and we jumped into a minibus. We were a group of 10 people approximately. The car drive took around 3 hours and we stopped at a restaurant near the starting point of the treck to have a breakfast and toilet break. In that point, the sun had started to rise and we could see the huge mountains clearly after driving a few hours in the darkness.
After the break, we continued for another 15 minutes to the starting point. The sun was up and everyone was ready to start the climb up to the mountains. We started the hike as a group, our guide taking care of us not leaving too much behind. The first steep hill was almost to get me, but I decided to keep climbing as the guide said it will get easier. My body wasn't too tired but my lungs couldn't pump enough of oxygen as we were at such a high altitude. In my mind, I imagine passing out in the middle of treck and not having insurance coverage, naah. Am I really going to do this?
Well on top of the first hill, I saw horses. What if? - After many years of not riding a horse because of a traumatic riding lesson, I decided to face my fears and hop on a horse. The horse ride costs 60 soles, more than the actual tour, but I decided to minimise the risks of getting sick. So I ended up riding the steady parts and climb the steep parts as well as the last big hill to the Vinicunca. The climb took around 3 hours. The view of the mountains was unbelievable. I felt I've travelled back in time. It was so quiet and nature showed its best side.
One of my favourite things on this treck was the snow covered Ausangate mountain which was the most sacred mountain for Incan mythology. Every year a festival called Star snow is held near the mountain. The area is mainly inhabited by Quechua-speaking llama and alpaca herding tribes. It was quite a view to see hundreds of llamas and alpacas wandering on the hilly valleys and on the side of mountains.
What comes to the path, it was in a surprisingly good shape and easily walkable, despite a few parts where the ground was a little unsteady and rock were slippery. For a more comfortable hike, you could bring or rent your own hiking sticks for support.
After 3 hours of hiking, 5100 meters under me, it felt super rewarding to finally see the rainbow mountain in its all glory. When I got to the top, there were fellow hikers cheering me with ''You made it!''. It was very cold and windy on top of the mountains. The sun wasn't warming anymore as on the lower parts of the track. We sat down for a snack break and just sat there and enjoyed the view. Everywhere you looked, was beautiful. After a good 30-40 minutes up there I felt like it's time to start the journey back, as it was indeed very cold and hard to breathe.
Coming back went naturally faster and easier than the climbing to the top. We took a few breaks in between and cherished the view once again. After the hike, we laid on the grass near the starting point for a good 20 minutes and then returned to the cars. For people choosing the tour with the lunch had it in the same place they got their breakfast earlier. We sat outside and drank some Coca leaf tea. All of us were exhausted but surely happy!
The trip back to Cusco took more than estimated 3 hours as there were some problems with the road and we had to wait for it to get fixed. The car left us in the centre near Plaza de Armas. Where we took a taxi back to our hostel.
* 60 soles converts to around 15€ * Tour including breakfast and lunch costs around 90 soles