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Rainbow Mountain (La Montaña de los Siete Colores/Vinicunca)

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

The famous question: are the colors really like that?! Affirmative! It really is a spectacle of nature…if she wants it!

rainbow mountain lama tousits
Rainbow Mountain

First test

Our private bus gets stuck in the mud/shit. The torrents of water completely destroyed the road to drive up and dragged the earth onto the properties of the poor locals who will have to remodel everything when the rainy season ends. At the moment we have two alternatives. Either we wait for the tractor to come and clear the way for our van to pass (undetermined time), or we walk through all this crap, only to then commit to walking what the van couldn't ride for us , i.e. 1 km more.

Since this was the third time it happened to us (including once in Ecuador and another time near Nazca, in the middle of the night, in Peru), we thought it was like that, in South America, things like that were to be expected. And, over the years, I admit that it is also each time what I miss most about Latin America and what makes me want to go back there: to ask myself questions where there is often no real answer. We ask ourselves: “Why are they doing it like that? But how did they make that?” by dint of traveling in Latin America, the question ends up shortening to only “but…?” to remember that the answer is “ah yes it’s true, don’t ask too many questions here.”

So… when our private tour driver told us that we had to walk both feet in shit to see what we had paid for, and, on top of that, that he was not going to change his schedule time to accommodate his customers, and that he would still leave at the scheduled time despite all the inconveniences, it is an understatement to say that all the Westerners on the bus had question marks in their faces as to whether it was it a joke or not.

But can you imagine that the choice was almost unanimous despite everything, and that everyone therefore found their feet soaked in water and shit up to their ankles, except for the guy from Argentina who miraculously had rain boots like shoes (clearly, he had the best revelation of the month!). The posh lady from England, with her new white Adidas shoes and her elegant red wool coat, makeup, pressed hair, on the other hand, did not find it funny. This is certainly not what Instagram had promised her… Besides, she did not even try to continue, she turned back, her ankles in shit, and went back to the bus. But we persevere. We came to see the colors of the mountain, not the Peruvians shoveling mud.

people walking in mud rainbow mountain peru
The mud test

Second Test

We are at an altitude of almost 5200 meters in the Peruvian mountains. It's raining/snowing, we literally have our heads in the clouds. We are stunned by the altitude, it is the first time that we have climbed so high in our lives. At least, everything is pleasant, with new friends from Quebec that we have just made, Julie and Louis-Philippe. It was necessary to make an ascent of at least an hour and a half. Luckily, we were well equipped. We had been in Peru for 1 month, and we had finally resigned ourselves: every day was a trek in Peru. We ended up dropping our old habit of dressing fashionably to put on the same thing every day and chew the coca leaf like gum.

inukshuk clouds rainbow mountain peru
Climb to the top of Rainbow Mountain

We arrive at the top, we can see a bit from afar. We are finally going to know if the colors are as beautiful, if nature wants it... Until now, it was not easy, we hope for a little luck. I arrive at the viewpoint, out of breath... I take out my camera... I turn around to leave myself surprised at the first glance and... we see nothing! The clouds are thick with rain, and we can barely see people a few meters away! I couldn't believe it. All this way, all this adventure, for nada! I cannot describe my dismay...

Tourists rainbow mountain clouds
Clouds in front of the famous Rainbow Mountain viewpoint

Michaël said to me: “we have to go down…”. which is true, because our bus was about to leave again, and we still had at least an hour of descent. Our new friends left about fifteen minutes ago. However, I am dragging my feet… hoping in the depths of my heart to have better images. But I have to do with what I have… Sheepishly, I put my camera away.

But, as we descend, all of a sudden, the clouds dissipate, and everyone exclaims in beauty. The colors of Vinicunca (the real name of Rainbow Mountain), created by several mineralogical compounds accumulated over the entire known timeline, are revealed to us by a tiny burst of sunlight. I run to take advantage of this gift offered by nature. I feel grateful. Because this kind of miracle, offered by the Pachamama (if I dare say so), happens to us constantly, while traveling. Filled with gratitude, because I dare to be here right now, to practice the profession that I love. I take advantage of the present moment to the maximum of what I am allowed to do (in the presence of the 300 other tourists who feel the need to post on Instagram the most beautiful photo of the moment).

beautiful colors Rainbow Mountain Valley
Rainbow Mountain Valley

Rainbow Mountain Valley
Rainbow Mountain Valley

Rainbow Mountain Viewpoint tourists colors
Rainbow Mountain Viewpoint

Now satisfied with what I have, and when the clouds decide to reappear, we almost run down the mountain laughing with happiness. The tractor to clear the way from the scree had just arrived.

We had decided, against our habits, and since we had considered that it was time to cross to Bolivia soon, to take an organized one-day tour to Rainbow Mountain (or La Montaña de los Siete Colores). We found it to be excellent value for money (around $19.50 CAD, transportation and food included). The tour starts before dawn and ends after dinner. I advise you to do this activity perhaps on your return from the Sacred Valley of the Inca and Machu Picchu when you are accustomed to the altitude. The famous point of view actually rises to nearly 5200 meters. Even after 10 days around Cusco and the Inca Valley, we had to repeatedly chew the coca leaf during our climb, and we still felt dizzy.

We are a couple of nomadic filmmakers who have decided to no longer have a fixed address and to live all over the world while documenting it. We have the challenge of making 10 feature films around the world. Where are we? You can find out by clicking on the following link!

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