Rainbow mountain and Lake Titicaca

Peru South America Travel diary
Rainbow mountain and Lake Titicaca
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After the Salkantay Trek we needed some time to recover. After about 6 days we were ready for another hike: Rainbow Mountain. We booked the trip through Peru Hop for 30 dollars, which was a bargain compared to other tours which charge up to 130 dollars! On Monday we got picked up at 3 AM to make our way to Vinicunca or Rainbow Mountain.

Easy walk up to Rainbow Mountain

The drive up to the start of the hike took about 3 hours. On the way we spotted hundreds of llama’s and alpacas grazing terraced fields with snow-capped mountains in the background. So beautiful…! We started the hike at around 7.30 and were told by the guide it would only take about 1 – 1.5h to get to the summit. Because Rainbow Mountain is located at 5200 metre above sea level, we took our precautions again and brought coca candy and leaves. I didn’t want to risk feeling as sick again as I did during Salkantay or as Simen felt during our Quilotoa hike.

The first part of the hike was very easy, the trail was mainly flat and we gradually ascended the mountain. Up until this part, the hike wasn’t very difficult and the trail was very accessible. The views were already amazing from the start! On the way to Rainbow Mountain we could constantly spot one of Peru’s highest mountains, Ausangate. It was absolutely beautiful!

After the easy and flat part, the intensity gradually picked up. The trail became a lot steeper and we were nearing the 5000 metre mark. Everyone started walking slower and breathing heavier. We took our time up the hills, making sure to take breaks every 10 minutes. We could really feel the altitude! Especially the last part of the hike was very steep and difficult because of the altitude. On the way down we even saw a girl faint… Luckily the guides had brought oxygen so they could help her out immediately.

Beautiful colours and amazing views

We had read online that Rainbow Mountain was a bit a hit or miss. Some people loved it, others not so much. One of the most common complaints is that the colours aren’t as amazing as they are portrayed online. Of course, most Instagram pictures are heavily edited. So, we noticed while ascending that the colours weren’t as bright as on Instagram, but they were still very beautiful! We were not disappointed at all! The last couple of metres we hiked up to the mountain which faces Rainbow Mountain and from where you get an amazing view of the colours. Once we reached the summit, we not only saw Rainbow Mountain, but also tons of other snow-capped mountains. The scenery was spectacular!
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Red Valley

We spent about 15 minutes on the summit taking pictures (or: trying to take pictures without too many people in it) and admiring the view. Afterwards we started the hike to the Red Valley. The Red Valley is located about 15-20 min away from Rainbow mountain and is, once again, very easily accessible. To enter the Red Valley you have to pay 10 soles (about 2.5 euros). Once we entered we got a beautiful view over the entire valley. It was really spectacular to see how red these mountains were! Everyone who walked through the valley was very impressed and stunned. It was gorgeous and absolutely worth the 15 minute detour and the 2.5 euro entrance fee. I would advise anyone who goes to Rainbow Mountain to also go to the Red Valley!
Rainbow Mountain and Lake Titicaca

After visiting the Red Valley, it was time to start our descent. By 10 AM we were back at the van. The whole tour took us about 2.5 hours, which is very doable. The hike up is not strenuous at all and if you’re reasonably fit you should definitely manage. If not, there’s always the possibility to rent a horse, however they don’t go all the way to the summit. The last 10-15 minutes, and basically the hardest part of the trek, you still have to walk up. After the hike we were brought to a restaurant where we could enjoy a tasty buffet, which was included in the 30 dollars we paid for the tour. Definitely worth the money!

Stranded in Puno

After more than 2 weeks in Cusco, it was time to move on to Puno. We took the night bus there on Tuesday evening and arrived on Wednesday morning at 5 AM. We had contacted our hostel in Puno to tell them we’d arrive very early on Wednesday morning. They assured us this was no problem and someone would let us in at 5 AM so we could get some more sleep.

Once we arrive at our hostel, it first took us about 15 min to find the right hostel (for some reason some hostels here have different names than the one they use online…). When we finally figured out which one was ours, we knocked on the door, impatiently waiting to catch up on some sleep. No answer. We knocked several times, Simen called them about 5 times… No answer. After about 20 minutes we realised no one was going to let us in.

At least we got to stay for free

We decided to try some other hostels in the area, but all of them were closed. It was now 6 AM and we both were exhausted from the 8 hour night bus to Puno. We decided to try to find a café where we could wait for the next couple of hours. Luckily we found a very nice breakfast bar where we spent about 4 hours waiting until we could go back to the hostel.

The receptionist seemed to not be aware of the fact that we were arriving at 5 AM and apologised. We were both already annoyed because of the lack of sleep and because we were going to have to pay for this night… To make matters worse, there was also no hot water in the room. We were not very pleased, to say the least… Luckily, the owner of the hostel was so embarrassed she let us stay for free!
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Lake Titicaca

The rest of the day we spent sleeping and resting. We basically only left our room to eat. On the second day we had booked a tour to the Uros Islands and Taquile Island (17 dollars pp). We took the boat at around 7.15 and were on our way to the Uros Islands, or floating islands. These are artificial islands made with reed. The inhabitants built the first “island” about 600 years ago! However, nowadays you can only visit recently built islands. The one we visited was 15 years old and inhabited by 1 family. The minute we got of the boat, I realised how touristic these islands were.
Rainbow Mountain and Lake Titicaca
We were greeted by the inhabitants, who put on a show for us. It felt very fake and not authentic at all. They wanted us to dress up in their clothes, show us around in their small huts and most importantly, they wanted to sell us as much as possible. At some point I told Simen I felt like I was watching animals in the zoo… After visiting this small island, we were brought to another island where we could buy some snacks or souvenirs. It was very clear these islands were only built for tourism…
Rainbow Mountain and Lake Titicaca

Taquile Island

After the floating islands, the boat took us to Taquile Island (about 2.5 h away). Both Simen & I were under the impression we’d finally get some “free time” to explore this island by ourselves. However, we were wrong… We didn’t realise we had booked a proper guided tour where everything was organised for us and they were basically taking us by the hand every step of the way. These are the kind of tours we really don’t like… Once we arrived on the Island, we were brought to a family which also put on a show for us. They danced and showed us how they knitted and weaved. It once again, didn’t feel authentic at all. We had lunch at their house, which was very tasty. But we both felt a bit disappointed.

Luckily Taquile Island was breathtaking! Beautiful green hills flanked by gorgeous blue water. It was gorgeous! I was happy that at least the island itself didn’t disappoint. After lunch we explored the island a bit more (with our group of course) and then took the boat back to Puno.
Rainbow Mountain and Lake Titicaca

Bye bye Peru, Hello Bolivia!

In the meantime we’ve arrived in Bolivia. We had 4 amazing weeks in Peru full of unforgettable experiences. Nothing about Peru disappointed us! We would recommend it to anyone. From the desert in Huacachina, to the snow-capped mountains around Cusco, it’s absolutely beautiful!

We will keep you up to date about our adventures in Copacabana and Isla del Sol!

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