Sitting at an elevation of over 16,000 ft., the rainbow mountains have recently been discovered after speculation that global warming caused melting of the snow and ice caps that once covered them. They were given their name due to the presence of layers of different minerals creating a design much like a rainbow. Their unique colors, high altitude, and sense of “new and exciting” makes them a popular tourist destination in Peru.
A very colorful day trip from Cusco!
We knew that this day was going to be special because we had heard so much about Yohn and his truck and we finally got to meet him AND take a long road trip in the truck! Our morning started early in the morning and after a pit stop along the side of the road for bread bigger than our heads, we hit the road. This was going to be the longest day of driving and the highest elevation we would be at on the trip. We typically sleep on long road trips, but Elise played good music, passed around skittles and energy chews and all of the conversations we were having with Yohn about mountain biking, meeting Vic, ibuprofen, etc. kept us awake the entire time!
Yohn knew better than to take us to the same Rainbow Mountain everyone else from Cusco goes to. He knew of a bit closer and way less populated Rainbow Mountain which was perfect for us! Once we reached the mountains, the road to the entrance was a long dirt windy road. Now we knew why we had to take the truck. Lots of off roading, luckily Yohn knew the way cause these roads weren’t marked. After reaching the check in point, we parked the truck and got out for a short hike. We were surprised at how challenging it was to move at 16,000 ft., but we didn’t mind stopping to take in the views. Much cooler up here than we were expecting and more labored breathing than even at Dead Women’s pass after a week and a half of exercising we still felt out of shape.
Loved all the llamas around everywhere. It was also fun to see the owners hanging out watching their herd. We’ll never get tired of seeing Llamas, the official animal of Peru! The scenery here is spectacular. Some mountains are deep red which was a nice contrast to the green grass. Mountains everywhere you look and even in the distance you can see snow. Also, this particular park had the Stone Forest up on one of the mountain peaks.
The Gateway to the Inca Trail, Ollantaytambo, You can read all about that here.
After a short hike that felt long and was more of a walk than a hike we reach a very close up section of rainbow mountain. We took some pictures and just really enjoyed being here.
Although we were tired, Yohn mentioned that there was a peak in the vicinity that we could traverse to take in even more views. Ashley and Elise chose to stay lower, and catch up while Yohn and Jess headed up to the top. After reaching the peak, Jess felt like she was on top of the world! Yohn and Jess were the only two people up there and it just felt so surreal. He had a tool to measure elevation and we found the peak to be at 16,270 ft.
After Jess and Yohn made there way back down we all headed back to the truck to head back to Cusco. Lots of children walking home from school which is always nice to see how excited they are to wave. Poor Yohn was hoping we would sleep at this point but we were way too excited. On the way home we stopped to have a delicious box lunch, homemade and extra yum!
Because it was our last night in Cusco before heading off the the Amazon we invited Yohn and Victoria to dinner to share about our trip and how amazing they were at setting everything up for us. Seriously, if you’re going to Peru look up Crossing Andes, you will not regret it! We had the best dinner and cocktails at Morena Peruvian Kitchen. Everything was fabulous, food, drinks, friends! A great way to end the most amazing trip before heading off to the Amazon.
More Peruvian Fun Below: