“It’s important to remember that we all have MAGIC inside of us”– J.K Rowling
The world is straight-out fascinating. The most beautiful places you will find in your travels will most of the time be the ones created by nature. The mountains, the beaches, the islands, the waterfalls, those incredible gorges, and so much more. Nature is magical, to say the least. And today, I have for you Lovely People, this astonishing beauty of a Mountain covered in colors.
Located in the Cusco region of Peru, the infamous Rainbow Mountains is a very popular place and thousands of people come to trek here and indulge in the beauty and get awed with it.
It looks as if some pages of a fantasy world got alive when you visit here. The locals refer it as Vinicunca which means the “Seven Color Mountain” and as “Montana de Colores” – the Mountain of Colors.
You might have seen some amazing, glowing with colors photographs of the Rainbow Mountain on your Instagram Feed.
Today, we discuss about the rainbow mountains in Peru, the natural marvel in South America and find out the reasons “Why the Rainbow Mountains in Peru is a Must Visit for Everyone?”
Table of Contents
The Rainbow Mountains in Peru were discovered in 2015
You read that right. The hugely popular Vinicunca Rainbow Mountains in Peru were never to be seen by any visitors before 2015, even at that very location! Now how’s that possible, right?
Well, it’s not like it magically appeared on a Sunday Afternoon to say Hi, you know. No. The truth is that it was always there. Yep. The Rainbow Mountains have existed since the beginning.
The only thing is that – they were covered !!
Covered by a strong and thick layer of Snow and Ice for so many years, the Mountain ranges were not very popular before the Climate Change hit it. See the pic below.
Climate Change was the major reason people started to notice the colors formations on the mountains. The Snow started to melt away and within a few years it was clearly seen to be Mountain of Seven Colors or Vinicunca as called by the locals.
In 2015, when some travelers found it, it had them in complete awe and it was quite surprising to suddenly see a huge range of rainbow mountains spread out throughout the Andes of Peru, which was not there an year ago. It was sensational, and it slowly became a popular phenomenon worldwide.
Now, thousands of tourists come here and trek away to the top every year and see this incredible masterpiece created by nature – and maybe by us Humans, as well. Okay, moving on.
How Were The Rainbow Mountains in Peru Formed?
Disclaimer:- Aight folks we are gonna get a little into the geographical side of things so Be Prepared..!! (thinking of watching Lion King, later) – #thoughtbubble
Now we have all touched into the subject in our schools and we kinda’ have some idea about the plane shifting and hitting into each other which forms the mountains. Imma try and tell you this part with the most easy way I possibly can. Bear with me.
Alright so it begins a couple of thousands of years ago. When the earth was kinda shady and its plates started to overlap with one another. There lived two beautiful tectonic plates called the Nazca plate and the South American plate. When the earth went a little crazy, they met and collapsed with each other. Maybe it was love? Who knows, right..!!
These plates overlapped and formed what we now know to be the Rainbow Mountains in Peru. Well, of course, they didn’t have a name back then. As far as the knowledge we have about Dinosaurs, they couldn’t talk- right? (Imagine if they did?!) #thoughbubble02. It’s a fascinating world we live in.
Reason Behind the Colors of the Rainbow Mountains in Peru
The Vinicunca or the Rainbow Mountains consists of many stripes of different colors which range from turquoise to lavender and gold even.
It’s like a rainbow fell over the mountains with a lotta force. Now, since you have somewhat remembered the school classes of geography telling you something about collapsing and overlapping of tectonic plates, thus forming the incredible mountains worldwide.
The next question which arises for this particular Mountain of Seven Colors is quite straight-forward, “How the hell did it get all those colors? Did some humongous dinosaur painted all over the place?! (you see I have a thing for the dinos) What happened exactly?” Well, let’s find out..!!
So the major hand in giving these mountains in Peru their infamous “rainbow” colors is of weathering and mineralogy. Wait, HOLD ON. Don’t go looking into google, I’m here to do that and give you an incredible explanation for the phenomenon, right? So sit tight. (hey, it rhymed !!)
Ok so let’s head back to the past again, towards the pre-mountain era.
Aight, when the ‘romance‘ between the Nazca and the South American plates occurred, that particular area consisted of many different kinds of sedimentary rocks beneath the surface. These sedimentary rocks were called: Sandstone, Halite, Gravel, Clay and they existed with a few other minerals as well.
So when the plates collapsed onto each other, this “happy little rock family”(?) formed different layers and spread all across the surface of the mountains. But the thing is that due to its elevation, the layers got covered by a massive layer of snow.
After years of erosion, different weather conditions, and thanks to us: the Climate Change condition, the snow started to tremble down from the mountain, thus showing its “real” and quite magical side to the world. Hope you get the idea..!!
Wildlife in and around the Rainbow Mountain
When we see the most incredible natural places around the globe, we mostly also see some extraordinary stories related to its flora and fauna. Same is with this incredible Mountain of Colors.
The mostly seen and the most famous animal you will find along your trek to the Rainbow Mountain in Peru will definitely be the Llamas.
A Llama is basically a long-distance South American relative of the Camels. These are mostly domesticated animals which are widely used as a meat and pack animal. Mostly found in the Andes Mountain region across the Southern American Continent, the natives have used Llamas as pack animals for centuries.
Other Wildlife in the area are: Foxes
The Star Snow Festival at the Rainbow Mountain
Vinicunca or the Rainbow Mountains in Peru is popular not only because the colors it has but to the locals, it has a very deep and spiritual connect as well. Every year, thousands of Quechua pilgrims trek here for a pilgrimage of the holy place which they believe it to be.
They believe its the place of their deity and also, they believe that the Apu spirits roam around the mountains. The locals refer the mountains as Apu or spirits from the realm of God sent there to protect them.
The Inca or the Incan Empire was the most massively spread empire during the 13th century in the South American region. The Quechua speaking tribes living among the Andes are their descendants.
So according to the Inca Mythology, their are three realms in the world: Hanan Pacha (the upper realm, or the Heaven), Kay Pacha (the human realm, or the Earth as we call it) and Uku Pacha (the underworld, Hell).
And they believed the mountains to be some sort of bridge connecting the Kay Pacha to the Hanan Pacha, somehow. They also believed that the mountains carry spirits from heaven which protect the neighborhood of the tribes.
The Star Snow Festival or Qoyllur Rit’i as called by the locals, gathers hundreds and thousands of people from all across the globe. Beautiful dancers in multi-colored and glowing, glimmering skirts, enthusiastic and energy filled musicians with their drums and flutes and a crowd buzzing.
This three day festival is definitely a delight for locals as well as the tourists. It basically is a way of the locals to tribute and send respects to the sacred mountains and the holy spirits they believe that exist there.
Aside the celebrations, the major attraction of this particular festival which gather so many people from different places over here is the celebration of stars and the phenomenon of the incredible reappearance of the Pleiades Star Cluster. It surely is a sight you will remember forever. It’s like a dream you’re looking at..!!
How to Visit the Rainbow Mountain?
Cusco is said to be the Gateway to Colorful Hills and if you wanna explore this place on your own, you need to get to Cusco. How are you gonna do that? READ ON!! The nearest airport will be the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco, Peru.
You’d be needing to book tours which you can find posters for, throughout the city of Cusco to reach and trek the magical Mountain of Colors. The tours are mostly in the range of $35 to $100. The price to pay is totally worth it for a visit to this “100 Places to Visit Before you Die” – as registered in the list of National Geographic.
Best Time to Visit the Rainbow Mountains?
The best time to visit this marvel of a place is between the months of April and October. Post rainy season, the colors are the most visible. But, the thing to keep in mind is that during this season, the trek becomes much tougher due to the slippery surface. The trek to the mountain is not an easy one. It’s tough, it’s hard, it might give you a little bruises too. First off, the elevation is massive high as the Rainbow Mountain stands at a height of 5200m above sea level. More than 17000 feet. At that height, you’ll also face raging weather changes as well.
Due to the height of the mountain summit, you cannot stay there for more than 20 minutes.
But those 20 minutes will be worth it all when you see the colors, the vibe and experience what the wonders of this world can make you feel like. As people say, “Difficult roads lead to Beautiful Destinations“.
Other than this beautiful phenomenon, there are many other wonderous and magical sites surrounding the mountain ranges of Cusco: like the hot springs, local villages and the astonishing Ausangate Glacier.
Is it an easy trek? NO
Is the weather at least helpful? NO
Is it even worth it? HELL YEAH!!
“It’s not the Mountains we Conquer, but Ourselves”