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Hiking Rainbow Mountain in Peru

Hike a mountain unlike any other

Hiking Rainbow Mountain
Hiking Rainbow Mountain

Lined with layers of some lavender, terra cotta, and vibrant turquoise sand, amazing Ausangate Mountain or so-called Rainbow Mountain has become an increasingly popular tourist place for hiking. However, the mountain is commonly hard to find and get to. It requires several days of hiking deep within the Andes to reach its peak.

A vibrant array of mountain colours has formed in the result of mineralogy, erosion and weathering. Each of the colours on the mountain comes from a different mineral. The red layers indicate iron oxide rust, while the orange and yellow suggest iron sulphide. As for the turquoise colour, it often comes from chlorite.

Despite its long history, the mountain was only discovered for tourism in 2015. Rumour has it, this area used to be covered in snow and just recently, when the snow melted, the rainbow beneath was displayed.

For local Peruvians, the Ausangate mountain is holy and believed to be the deity of Cusco. Being a site of daily offerings and worship, Rainbow Moutain welcomes thousands of Quechua pilgrims annually to celebrate the Star Snow festival a week before the Corpus Christi.

Some special tracks are being built to keep the landscape as untouched as possible. Passionate hikers will enjoy the journey, as they find local villages, vendors, and hot springs there. Stunning views of the Ausangate Glacier and llamas along the way are also worth noticing. It is possible to find yourself on the summit of the Rainbow Mountain in a couple of hours. However, the altitude can cause troubles for first-timers.

April through October, as a dry season in Peru, is deemed to be the most appropriate for the hike with the period between June and August being most crowded.

Practical info

When is the ideal timeframe to hike Rainbow Mountain?

Between April and October is the best time to embark on a Rainbow Mountain hike due to favorable weather conditions, and temperature range. If you want to have a safe experience, it is advisable to avoid hiking during the wet season (November to March) as the path may be treacherous and prone to landslides. Show more

What are the origins of the colors on Rainbow Mountain?

Rainbow Mountain's unique colors are derived from the formation of minerals, weathering, and erosion. Different mineral compositions give each color on the mountain a distinct hue. Iron oxide rust produces red layers, while iron sulfide results in orange and yellow hues. Turquoise colors are typically caused by chlorite presence. Over a long period, the accumulation of these minerals creates the awe-inspiring natural wonder known as Rainbow Mountain. Show more

How much time is required to hike to the peak of Rainbow Mountain?

Travelers can expect to reach Rainbow Mountain's peak within about 2 to 3 hours. This hike's duration may vary depending on fitness level and air pressure in the high altitude environment. It's urged that novice hikers take their time to acclimate to the altitude, given that the mountain's elevation stands at an impressive 5,200 meters above sea level. Show more

Is there a designated path or trail created to protect the landscape of Rainbow Mountain?

Special tracks are being built to preserve the natural environment of Rainbow Mountain, limiting human activities in the area. As a result of the mountain's growing popularity, tracks ensure visitors adhere to designated trails and avoid harming the ecosystem through littering or grazing. By maintaining this regulation, the natural habitat remains protected, and the trail can remain readily available for many years to come. Show more

What is the Star Snow festival, and when does the event happen near Rainbow Mountain?

The Star Snow festival is a Quechua festival celebrated yearly in honor of Rainbow Mountain, considered a sacred holy site by local Quechua peoples. This festival takes place one week before the Corpus Christi, near Rainbow Mountain in Peru. Cultural traditions and festivities include musical performances, dance, the demonstration of traditional cuisine, and offerings to the mountain deity, all to reflect their honors and religious significance of Ausangate Mountain. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin