On the last morning, Thomas and Eitan left at 4:00 am for the Rainbow Mountain tour. It was a few hour drive on a very bumpy road until we stopped at a little hut in the middle of nowhere for breakfast.
After some oatmeal and fruit, we continue for about an hour until we got to the parking lot of the mountain. Due to the altitude of 17,000 ft, we decided to take it easy and rent donkeys to take us to the base of the mountain.
Other travelers decided to walk instead, it is a very strenuous walk and it takes some time to acclimate.
You can see the indigenous woman (who owns the donkeys) take on this walk like if it is a stroll in the park.
It goes without saying that the views of the Andes are breathtaking.
The Andes or Andean Mountains are the longest continental mountain range in the world, forming a continuous highland along the western edge of South America. The Andes also have the 2nd most elevated highest peak of any mountain range (Argentina’s Mount Aconcagua), only behind the Himalayas. The Andes extend from north to south through seven South American countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
We got to the base where the donkeys turn around (unfortunately). The way up was absolutely brutal and we needed to stop several times for Agua de Florida, which is this special blend of herbs and spices that when inhaled, opens your lungs and it feels like a shot of oxygen straight to your brain. It’s great!
This might not look too difficult, but the altitude makes it really really hard.
The colorations of the mountain of the 7 colors are due to the mineralogical composition that it has: the pink color is for the red clay, fangolitas (mud) and arilitas (sand). The whitish colouring is because of the quartzose, sandstone and marls, rich in calcium carbonate. The red one made up of the claystones (iron) and clays belonging to the upper tertiary. The green is due to the compound of phyllites and clays rich in ferro magnesian. The earthy brown is a product of fanglomerate composed of rock with magnesium belonging to the Quaternary era. And the mustard yellow color for the calcareous sandstones rich in sulphurous minerals.
Of course, some Alpacas were posing for your photo for a couple Soles (Peruvian currency)
Props to Thomas for being sick and still showed the bravery and endurance of some of the greatest explorers in history!
We got extremely lucky with the weather.
Meditation is important too. Namaste!
The story of this mountain is a little sad. This peak used to be covered in snow, but due to global warming, the snow has melted revealing the colors we see today. This is how tourism to this mountain started, which is still in the early stages.
The view from top!
It was time to go down so we had time to visit the Red Valley.
This really looked like another planet.
Our guide was superb. Super friendly and with an entrepreneurial spirit, he was explaining that he would like to open his travel agency soon. We wish him the best!
It takes about 40 min to walk to the entrance of the valley. The Red valley does not really get many visitors as most tourists just go to the Rainbow Mountain and back to their bus. We booked a tour that took us here on purpose.
We were hungry, so we shared some food with the mountain alpacas (credit to Thomas for thinking of this photo).
In absolute silence ( it was only us in the mountain), our guide played some Andean music for us. It was such a magical moment.
We found another little guy hanging out here.
We started our way back, this time walking! The way down is not that bad and we truly enjoyed the walk. By this time, the big tour buses were starting to arrive.
The mountains are full of glaciers. Some of them already shrank so much that they are in danger of disappearing in the next decade.
We got back to the parking lot and headed back to meet the girls. What an incredible day of nature and adventure. I truly recommend everyone that visits Peru to spend a day here.
2 Comments Add yours
Eitan, looks like a fabulous experience. I really enjoyed this account. Where was Sarita?
We are routinely hiking at 11,000 in the eastern Sierras, hard for me to imagine 17,000.
Hi! it was really an amazing experience. Sarita stayed in Cusco because she was feeling sick, so this adventure wouldn’t have helped. At 17k, you feel you are breathing through a straw and every step feels heavy! this gives me some perspective on how it is to climb the highest peaks like Everest!