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Destinations in Peru

Rainbow Mountain - Vinicunca

Rainbow Mountain - Vinicunca

Rainbow Mountain - Vinicunca, Cusco, Peru

If you are reading this then chances are you have heard the stories or seen some of the spectacular images of Vinicunca in Peru that are making waves on social media. This formerly hidden, Omni-colored peak is known globally as ‘Rainbow Mountain’ and is located just a couple of clicks outside of Cusco. Vinicunca Peru only recently opened for tourism access in 2015 but has since gone on to become a staple in every Peru traveler’s itinerary – and with a quick glance at the Instagram feed of anyone who has visited, it is not hard to see why. So please, read on and allow me to share my experience of climbing The Rainbow Mountain and the tips I wish I had known beforehand. Preparing for your Hike The first step in any hike is always to prepare for any issues you expect to encounter and hiking Rainbow Mountain is no different. Many websites contain at least a passing mention of the altitude of Rainbow Mountain – a little over 17,000ft / 5,200 meters above sea level – but why many website does not tell you is just how punishing hiking at this altitude can be. At these altitudes (altitude sickness can kick in anywhere over 8000ft!) 3 or 4 hour hike can have even the most spry of athletes huffing and puffing, I know I was. Therefore, it is definitely advisable to spend at least 2 or 3 days in Cusco beforehand acclimating yourself to the area’s elevation. Altitude sickness is not the only issue that comes with this level of elevation, though. In fact, those same clear skies that will have your rainbow mountain pictures looking so spectacular will also be your worst enemy on the hike upwards. At this elevation, the sunshine is intense, so make sure to apply some high SPF sunscreen on any exposed skin to avoid looking like a tomato for the next week. A pair of sunglasses probably would not go amiss either! However, do not let the intensity of this sunshine fool you, as at these elevations what may seem like a slight breeze can have temperatures dropping back down to frosty in no time, so be sure to layer up and always pack a rain jacket. It can get muddy up there too, so if you have the room, a spare pair of socks probably would not be the worst idea in the world either. Also – although points in the trail have toilets provided, it’s not uncommon for these ‘toilets’ to more closely resemble holes in the ground with tents wrapped around them – so perhaps it would not be unwise to bring your own toilet paper.

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