10 Tips for the Rainbow Mountain
Located in the Cusco region, the rainbow mountain is about 5200 meters high (higher than the Mont Blanc mountain). Trekking to this colorful mountain might appear as a big challenge for your body, but it is worth it once you see this unique landscape.
Here are 10 tips to live the best experience possible.
Tip 1: Arrange a guided tour
To make it to the peak of the Rainbow Mountain safely, it is better if you book a guide tour from Cusco. Most of the tours are cheapest when booked last minute in the city. In fact, you’ll be able to negotiate and to compare with the different agencies. There are two kinds of tours the “Budget”ones and the “Premium” ones. We decided to take the budget ($20.00 USD) as we are students.
During the “budget tour”, you’ll be pooled with large groups of about 20 to 40 people. A bus will pick you up from your hostel/hotel around 4 am and on the way the bus will stop at a local place for a good breakfast time to get the fuel that your body needs for the trek. A guide (English/Spanish speaker) will accompany the group and will tell you everything you need to know about the trek, the mountain and interesting facts about Peru.
Tip 2: Rest the day before (no parties)
Climbing this mountain is not easy and you’ll need to have good physical conditions. In fact, oxygen will be missing sometimes and a lot of energy will be needed for you to arrive to the top. Moreover, you’ll have to wake up early in the morning (while it is still the dawn) to take the bus for the tour. One advice I would give is to rest the day before and avoid partying, instead have a nice dinner. Eat and sleep well the day before so your body is full of energy and motivation for this physical day.
Tip 3: Take some coca (leafs of course)
You might feel a bit weak, because of the altitude. Also, some people start feeling sick while they are climbing the mountain, because they do need oxygen and their body don’t adapt to the altitude, that is why most of Peruvian people will recommend you take coca in any of their varieties; candy, tea or the most common to chew raw coca leaves before and during the trek. Coca leaves will definitely help you to face the “altitude sickness”.
Tip 4: Walk at your own pace
You will see some people walking faster than you. Don’t compare yourself to the others and keep walking at your own “rhythm”. The trek can be hard for people who don’t have a healthy or sporty lifestyle or for those who are not use to high altitude. It is really important that you take your time to avoid headaches and nausea.
Tip 5: Avoid the heavy backpacks
Imagine going up 10 meters heigh every second and at the same time losing breath every time you walk up the mountain. Now add a heavy backpack with all your belongings. Yes, you will get tired really fast! Avoid the heavy backpacks with unnecessary belongings you will not need in the trekking. Bring a bottles of water of course and some snacks, but so you know the tour includes breakfast and lunch so it is not necessary to bring a lot of food. If you come with a friend you should put both belongings in one bag and alternate the carrying. Here is a list of what is necessary to take for this tip: a small backpack, bottles of water, sunscreen and lip balm.
Tip 6: Wear trekking shoes and light clothes, but bring warm clothes as well
You will walk a lot so it is important for you to wear comfy shoes. However, I would advise you to wear trekking shoes (I found some that are really comfortable and lights here)
It is really cold at the top of the mountain, wear light but also bring warm clothes for when you ascending the mountain such as a legging, an undershirt and a sweater (alpaca sweaters are the best: cute, sweet and warm). Take a rain jacket or a poncho in case it is raining or snowing. Also bring some gloves and a beanie in case you are too cold.
Moreover, while you are trekking wear a hat and sunglasses, because the sun is heating hard in the mountains.
Tip 7: Don’t forget the cameras and the small coins
You might want to capture this unique moment. All these colors will appear magical to you. Moreover, there will be some funny pet llamas and alpacas waiting for you. So, put your camera in your bag the day before so you don’t forget it in the hotel or make sure your phone is with you before getting to the bus so you can take a “llamazing” picture. Bring some small coins so you can give a tip to the owners of the llamas and alpacas if yo do want to take a picture with these beautiful animals.
Tip 8: Take a horse if you feel bad
If you feel too weak to walk because of the effects of the altitude on your body, you have the possibility to “rent” a horse. You can ask for it on the spot whenever you want. For the entire way, it costs $22 and for the last part of the trek it is $12. It is quite easy and fast to find a horse since some horsemen are walking the trail along the trekkers.
Tip 9: Go to see the red valley
The guide will propose you to keep going in order to go to the Red Valley: Do it! It is an amazing and quiet place offering a unique landscape. You made it already to the the rainbow mountain so why not going a bit further?
Tip 10: Where to sleep?
We stayed at a place called Nao Victoria Hostel. There was some music, games and the decoration was really cute. I would 100% recommend it.
- Inkalajta tour: Bus, breakfast and lunch included: 20 dollars
- Red Valley entrance: 3 dollars
- Horse renting: $22 for the entire trek / $12 for the last part of the trek
- Hostel dormitory with 8 single beds: 15 dollars per person (breakfast included).