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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Rainbow Mountain, Peru- A Walk into the Unknown

Rainbow Mountain Peru
Take this tour with FlashpackerConnect Rainbow Mountain "Vinicunca" 

We traveled throughout Peru for a full month. Longer than we expected with our limited time in South America, but not nearly enough to cover everything. We explored the city of Lima, the mountains in Huaraz, the area of Cusco, and the Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu. We spent nearly half that time trekking in the Andes mountains and exploring the vast landscape. Our most recent trek was the Ausangate Trek. Traditionally done in 5 days circumnavigating the massive Ausangate Peak, a sacred mountain for locals as it is the largest in the area.

Ausangate trek Peru

After reading bits and pieces of this trek on line, I stumbled upon a picture of what I can only describe as a rainbow in the mountain. This soon became an obsession for me to find out where the mountain was and how we could get there. Knowing that it was close-ish to the trek we were planning, but not able to find any information online we were at a loss. We were so close, we just had to go see this mountain. We went in to guide shops, scanned social media, and still came up empty handed. Now with one day before we were to take off, we stumbled upon a distorted map of an old trail. Having somewhat of an idea where the mountain was we made some notes on the map and took off.

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Rainbow Mountain Peru
Rainbow Mountain
Every adventure seeker dreams of an undiscovered land. A place that is off the beaten track, where you get away from it all, but is there such a place anymore?

Vinicunca Mountain (Rainbow Mountain) in Peru is one of these places where travelers have yet to discover. A secret that has been kept so well there is no information about it.

The journey will take you minimum 6 days to complete. A high altitude adventure that will keep you begging for oxygen as you strut above a constant 14,000 feet. You cross 5 passes ranging between 15,000 and 17,000 feet. You pass thousands of roaming alpaca and llama. You walk through beautifully diverse landscape that changes daily from snow capped peaks, to neon red desert mountains, to marshy pampas. The real reward however is when you arrive at the painted hills hidden deep in the Andes. Resembling a rainbow, this mountain will require extreme route finding, harsh camping conditions, and a strong determination, but it will not leave you disappointed.

Want more? You are rewarded on the first day and last with a relaxing soak in natural hot springs and the best part is you will be on a trail that gets very few visitors each year. This is a destination not to be missed for any adventure seeker.
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The Journey:

The start of the trek we were instantly greeted by herds of alpaca and llama, starting around noon we only hiked a few hours before the clouds came with uninvited rain and we set up camp for the night. Content that we were stationed right next to a hot springs we waited out the rain and enjoyed some coca tea to stay warm before enjoying a nice long soak to prepare our muscles for the extreme days ahead.

Ausangate trek

Day 2 we prepared our less than desirable Peruvian oatmeal. Everyone always says, "when you're on the trail it really doesn't matter what you're eating as long as you have food" well in this instance, that's not the case, and unfortunatley we brought two large bags of it... our only morning substance for the next 5 days. We fueled our bodies out of shear necessity and took off to conquer our first pass of the journey. We continued on for the next few hours with Ausangate mountain in full view, passing deep blue lakes, and transferring into a desert-like landscape.

Ausangate Trek

Ausangate trek



Day 3 was "The day" the day we were to find the rainbow. Preparing for a difficult day ahead, (and high hopes of finding what we were looking for) we were up early, fixed our oats and took off a few hours earlier than usual. First thing ahead of us was a steep climb up a daunting 16,000 foot pass, over 1500 feet of elevation gain in less than a half a mile. Steadily, we make our way up taking frequent breaks to marvel at the snow capped peaks behind us while chunks of ice the size of a car break off and plummet into the glacial tarn below. One step after another we again pass herds of alpaca, and we traipse over lavender colored sand; already it feels as though we are in a different world, but it's only a precursor of what is to come.

At the top of the pass we grab for our map to have another look. Every few minutes it seems we stop to check our map to make sure we are on the right track, and gasp for more oxygen.

Rainbow Mountain Peru

We make our way through the lush green valley and begin to climb our second 16,000 foot pass for the day, hoping the whole way that this was the pass we needed. Three hours later we reach the top, and a rush of emotions stream through my veins. We could see it. The mountain we were looking for. It exists, and it was only a few hours with in reach. Not that it was going to be an easy task to get there though, we still had many miles and a deep valley in standing in our way.

We made our way down the side of the mountain covered in dark red sand and scree, half way sliding to a small lake. We relaxed, reloaded with water, and chomped down some peanut butter tortillas. It was still before noon, and very few clouds in the sky. On an adrenaline high, from our discovery, we took off again for the ultimate view of the rainbow.

When we finally arrived at Vinicunca I was again overwhelmed with emotions. It was better than I could have ever imagined and it was just us and the Andes. Surrounded by a splattering of neon reds, electric yellows, and soft blues. It was as though it shouldn't exist in reality - as if Dr. Seuss created it himself. We sat there in silence awed by the beauty that exists in this world, and stunned that so few travelers have ever been here.

Rainbow Mountain Peru
Rainbow Mountain "Vinicunca"

Rainbow Mountain Peru
Rainbow Mountain "Vinicunca"

The rest of the trek was nothing short of a backpackers dream. We crossed four more passes, slept under a sky crowded by stars and colors from the milky way, swam in some beautiful (yet cold) lagoons, and didn't see a another trekker until the last day where we again rested our muscles in a natural hot springs.
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Brandon and I have seen some amazing things and been on a lot of adventures, but this is one that we will never forget. A journey to the secret, painted hills of the Andes mountains where we walked into the unknown. What will your next adventure be?

NOTE: If you would like to take a day trip to the Rainbow Mountain or a multi day trek on the Ausangate visit www.flashpackerconnect.com for more information or email flashpackerconnect@gmail.com to book a tour. You are now able to get to this amazing place on a day trip from Cusco, Peru. Have fun!

41 comments:

  1. It is truly a great and helpful piece of information and nice collection.
    I am satisfied that you simply shared this useful information with us.
    Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing. Unblocked Games

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post! I'll be waiting for your review on Strobel and Argentinean Patagonia...

    Un abrazo! Franco

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    Replies
    1. Franco! Itnwas so great to meet you! Strobes coming soon :)

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  3. Great post! I'll be waiting for your review on Strobel and Argentinean Patagonia...

    Un abrazo! Franco

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  4. Dear bamorris5,

    I love your blog it's fascinating and with a happy ending to conclude. My girlfriend and I have just arrived in Cusco and would love to find the same rainbow mountain. We are hoping that you still have the map and would be willing to forward it to my email address andiridg89@hotmail.co.uk. Of course I understand this is a beautiful spot and know that tourism can easily ruin these hidden gems. I was hoping for an insight into whether or not you think the terrain is accessible by an off road motorbike? I love to explore off the beaten track and I find a motorbike is the most adventurous way for myself. I look forward to your response.

    Kind regards,

    Andy.

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    1. an off road motorcycle would do exactly what you have mentioned - ruin a hidden gem. To enjoy these spots its best you take the effort to WALK.
      Save the motocross bike for the dirt track or the highway - we need to preserve these rare & unique places.

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    2. Agree. You are clearly not interested in protecting these hidden gems if you want to motorbike all over them! Please just don't for the sake of everyone else who would like to see them one day. And for all the flora and fauna that live there

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  5. Gina: my name is Niclas and my girlfriend and I are looking for the same thing! We will arrive in cusco in two days I think and any information would be so so helpful!

    Thank you and good travels

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  6. Gina: my name is Niclas and my girlfriend and I are looking for the same thing! We will arrive in cusco in two days I think and any information would be so so helpful!

    Thank you and good travels

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  7. Hi! Great information! Me and my friend are going for the hike and it would be amazing if you could send some more information about how to find the rainbow mountain. Thank you! / Hanna
    Hanna.m.ericsson@gmail.com

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  8. Hello,

    Great post, I would be interested in following in your footsteps any additional info and a copy of the map would be great?

    terry.s.hammond@gmail.com

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    1. Hey! Glad you're interested in going! It's a wonderful trek. However there isn't really a map, we found one in Cusco that just showed the circuit, and then drew the rainbow trail in.. You can email flashpackerconnect@gmail.com and they'll take you there on a day trip or for the full circuit!

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  9. Oh! very nice blog , photograph and information. i highly appreciated and recommendation this travel blog about Indonesia. i like to come there to visit as well as. I like to link my blog about the mysterous things that Mini Tibet in Nepal upper mustang trekking one of the best and cultural Tibet where one can meet culturally, geographically Tibetan people in the territory of Nepal. We manage professional trekking guide who can culturally dealing the issue of mustang.

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  10. Would love to know if this is visible from above and could be viewed on Google Earth

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  11. This is amazing thank you all. I am planning a 10-day trip for early fall and would love to see your itenerary if possible, maybe a loose outline of schedules, transportation, food, costs and such. Regardless, thank you so much!

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  12. I would also like to see your itinerary. I would love to try to find this on my own as well.

    Can you please email me at swivel806@yahoo.com?

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  13. Thanks so much for such a wonderful blog, I would love to visit that place soon.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I hope you do make it there!!

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  14. Very impressive mountains ! Thanks for your explanations !

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  15. This is very beautiful and fantastic blog. It is my pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for sharing this blog. formentera day trips

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  16. What a beautiful rainbow coloured mountain it is. i wish to have a visit there.
    Valet Parking Heathrow

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  17. this is brilliant information thank you. My partner & I are hoping to go there but unfortunately I am not up to a 6 day hike at altitude. We will be booking a one day tour which is a shame as we will miss all the other stunning stuff on the way. Thanks again and keep trail blazing!

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  18. Could you please post the map you used, or some specific information? It looks wonderful and I would love to get a chance to see it not just in your pictures! Thanks! -Maya

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  19. Can you get there by car and not having to hike for too long??

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  20. Could you please send me some information on this such as, possible directions, map, or anything that would help with locating this beautiful piece of out planet?
    Coolalive89@yahoo.com

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  21. Hi all,

    My name is Broc and I plan to do a 5-6 day trek to Vinicunca. Because of my tight budget, I cannot afford a tour. I was hoping someone could provide me with a map, either of the mountain, or the topography map of the region. This would be of great help and ensure my safety. I will hiking alone and want as much information as possible to avoid getting lost. ANY information would be much appreciated! Please sent to brocp601@gmail.com. If you have interest in joining in on the adventure, I will likely be departing around June 25th, 2016.

    Blessings,
    Broc

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  22. Hello! Many people are asking for the same but it's because the blog is cool and the experience sounds unique and wonderful.....is it possible to get your itinerary and map? Thanks a lot Carmen carmencarmela@hotmail.com

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  23. Wow guys, you have just startet a fire in my heart with this insight into your adventure!! This beauty is incredible and I can feel it want me to find it :-P I really wanna do this tour next year and overcome all adventures on the trekk to this beautiful mountain. Is it possible to get some more infos of you on your route - starting point and route?? That would be so great!!! If you have any further infos I could use to plan this trip I would be so happy to receive it :-)
    Thank you sooo much in advance I am looking forward to hear from you :-) carina-fietz@t-online.de
    Much love from Germany :-)

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  24. OMG...I am in awe and can't think of anything else but to go and explore Vinicunca now. I stumbled un your blog when researching the rainbow mountains and love your blog.
    Can you please advise how long the hike was altogether? I just can't fathom how the exploring tours can do it in only a day (mind you, you only get 30mins to enjoy Vinicunca) and it took you 3days to reach the mountain. Do the tours use a shortcut? I'd much rather do the individual trek with my hubby, but am really confused about the distance to get there. Thank you,
    Basia

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    Replies
    1. Hey Basia! What is your email address? I'll shoot you a message :)

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  25. Hi

    In about week I will be in Cusco. I would like to explore mountains and find rainbow mountain
    Can anyone share some information please. My email address ania.szczepanik@gmail.com

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  26. Hi endless adventures, I have same request/question as Basia, can you shoot me a message? I'm heading to cusco tomorrow

    Johanna (johannaf80@outlook.com)

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  27. Hello,

    I stumbled across your blog several months ago, and haven't been able to stop reading since. In fact, because of this post, I will not be spending three weeks in Peru this coming April/May. My boyfriend and I are planning to spend the majority of our time trekking through the Andes. We have done quite a bit of research, and are getting very excited to "recreate" your trek to this incredible location. I wondered if you still had a copy of the map you mention at the beginning of the article, or if you have a map of your own since completing the hike. We want to do the full trek, and not take a day trip so I'm hoping you might be able to help me out.

    If anyone else has a map, I would love to hear from you! Email address is below. :)

    Mariel

    Marielfdonovan@gmail.com

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  28. Stated in Quran, Surah Fathir (27) 1400 years ago..: "Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby fruits of varying colors? And in the mountains are tracts, white and red of varying shades and [some] extremely black"

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  29. Hi, can you explain why you promote flashpacker tours but it sounds like you did it by yourself? Do you have experience with or work for them?
    I'd also like to do it alone. Would you mind sharing how you go to the start of your hike and how you arranged pick-up? Do you have a map (ideally with coordinates) you could share?
    Thank you so much!!
    R

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  30. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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