Kristy and I have spent the last 4 weeks travelling around Peru, and I could honestly spend another 4 weeks seeing everything that we haven’t seen yet. We have been in Cusco for the last 2 weeks and loving everything this pocket of the country has to offer. However, our return ticket to Canada is looming and we had to pick and choose what we wanted to do with what was left of our time, and Rainbow Mountain was an absolute must!
We were so worn out from our Salkantay adventure and misadventures with our agency that we didn’t even try to get a deal on this tour. Instead, we paid a bit more and booked through our hostel, but it worked out really well because a hike of the Red Valley was also included in our ticket!
We got picked up from our hostel at around 4am, which meant another 3:20am wake up. We had made some friends in our hostel the day previously and we had found out that we were all doing the tour together, so it was fun because we already had some new friends going into our excursion!
We had a 2.5 hour bus ride to this town where we had breakfast, and everyone managed to catch up on their sleep on the way there. After breakfast we had 50 minutes more of driving on the most bumpy road known to mankind. I made the mistake of chatting to a new pal instead of looking forward at the road and felt like absolute garbage when the bus finally stopped (I wasn’t the only one – the altitude took a toll on most of the bus too)!
We have been told that Rainbow Mountain is a really challenging hike because of the just about 5200m altitude at the top of the viewpoint. It was definitely a challenge with breathing as usual, but everything else was fine – we accounted it to our being at high elevation in Cusco for a while and making it through our mountain pass of 4600+ metres on the Salkantay Trek.
The actual trail up Rainbow mountain was quite short – the first hour or so was flat and it really only started to incline for the last 30 minutes or so! We were happy to get to the viewpoint early enough that we could grab some great photos before the crowds really set in. Shoutout to my new friend Alex and his iPhone X for the stunning photos! By the way, these photos are not edited, the mountain actually looked like that!!!!
Instead of hiking down the Rainbow Mountain trail, our group took a different route into the Red Valley. It was a little bit longer but worth it – it felt like we were on another planet! The only clue that we weren’t were the abundance of wild alpacas and llamas we saw! Apparently it’s really good luck to see a black llama in the wild- someone’s walking tour guide said he had lived in Peru for 34 years and had only seen one in the wild!
We were pretty exhausted when we reached our bus, but the views and scenery were well worth it. Catching the alpacas running was one of the highlights for me – they are soooooo fluffy and their hips just waddle when they run!
We were lucky to have an awesome hiking crew and a beautiful day – we had looked on social media the day before for photos and weren’t happy with the view as it was all clouds.
It was amazing last hike in Cusco and we were so lucky to have the fortunate combination of a great group and great weather for the day. Today we fly to Lima for one last night in the city before heading back to Canada tomorrow!