You may have recently noticed in popular social media and on the Internet the discovery of a fascinating new destination in the high Andes which is being referred to as the Rainbow Mountains of Peru. This mountain range is well-hidden in a tucked away area in the middle of the glacial mountains of the Vilcanota Range in the south of Peru, specifically in the shadow of the highest mountain in the Cusco Region, Apu Ausangate, which comes in at just under 21,000 feet elevation (6,300 meters), about a 4-hour drive from Cusco.
This discovery has recently generated a lot of interest and we have been receiving requests for treks to this area. So at the request of our clients, on Friday, March 18th Alpaca Expeditions sent an exploratory expedition of our guides, porters and horsemen to this newly discovered natural wonder and to find the best path and to be sure we know the conditions of the landscape. We are happy to announce that we are the first tour operator to offer organized treks to the Rainbow Mountains of Peru!
This is more of a wilderness trek, totally off the beaten track – above the tree line with magnificent views of the Andes and glacial peaks. The Rainbow Mountains are composed of stratified layers of sandstone. These fine grained rock layers contain abundant iron and other mineral compounds which provide the pigments for the various colored stripes of which the mountains are made.
Along the way there are many beautiful things to see – turquoise lakes, incredible glacial views, llamas and alpacas. There are still the wild vicuña to be seen along the way, which are now protected by the government and it is illegal to keep them in captivity. Vicuña is the most expensive wool in the world due to this fact and that they can only be shorn once every three years Their wool is incredibly warm and fine. The local Quechua campesinos call this event a “chaccu” when they herd the animals by making a huge circle of people, interlocking arms, to trap and shear the animals before setting them free again. Since this law passed in 1974, the vicuña population has increased from 6,000 to today’s population of 125,000! This wool sells for US$1800-$3000 (compared to cashmere wool which is $100 per yard) and is exported to make superfine cloths, sweaters and scarves.
Finding the best route for our clients took a few days of exploration and discovery – even when asking the locals most people have no idea where to find these magnificent mountains!! Finally, on Day 4 of our exploratory expedition we came over the crest of a mountain and BOOM! – there were the magnificent Rainbow Mountains in all their glory!!
We will be ending this trek in the village of Chilca which is a part of the Quispicanchis Provence, then make the 4-hour drive back to Cusco. The best months for this trek will be April to November when we are not in our rainy season and there is not so much rain and snow.
So if you were disappointed to find that you are too late to hike the Classic Inca Tail this year (it is sold out through September now), be one of the first pioneers to make this trek with us!
We are considering offering this as a 6-day trek/tour which will encompass the Rainbow Mountain trek and also include a tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and a day at Machu Picchu as well!
Watch this space for more information on this new development!
Check out now our 4 Day Trek to Rainbow Mountain.
By Lisa McClendon Sims