We chose to do a rainbow mountain tour based on our first impression of the guys at the agency. They were super chill, offered us anise and pisco shots, and weren’t pushy. It cost us S/80 each plus S/10 park entrance fee (roughly $37 NZD in total each), where some people were charged S/120 for the same thing. We were picked up at 4.30am with the guide, Percy, yelling at us for not giving him proper directions. We had given this information to Josè at the agency. It obviously was as far as it went. The tour was actually done with Vertigo Travel Peru, which was news to us.The drive took 3 hours and the road was horrendous. We arrived at ‘base camp’ at 7.30am for ‘breakfast’ consisting of bread and 1/4 of an omelette. There was a big Argentinian couple who were unimpressed about the breakfast and the time of it as they were ‘starving’.
The walk itself was beautiful but tough. The top of rainbow mountain is 5,170m above sea level. Our guide left us to our own devices and we were at the top of the mountain in less than 2.5 hours. We joined in with another group to hear about the rainbow mountain, but there was no real significance to the local people other than it overlooked the largest mountain in Cusco, Ausangate. The colours of the mountain are due to the mineral rich soil, and other mountains like this can be found in Argentina, China and Bolivia.
The bathrooms along the way were interesting…They consisted of four bits of timber stuck into the ground with a plastic sheet tied around to give some privacy but they flapped around in the wind! If you were lucky, there were some wooden structures with a roof, but you were squatting over a hole made of plywood and had to aim into a small hole. It made us miss the long drops of New Zealand.
We walked back down and had to wait 1.5 hours for more of our group to reach the bottom before we could have lunch. We did try join another group but it didn’t work. Lunch was good, varied, but not enough for the number of people on the tour.
We were on the road again about 3.30pm with our guide Percy rambling on about this and that. He never told us about rainbow mountain, instead talking about the southern cross, Machu Picchu and other random bits of Peruvian ‘history’, we aren’t sure how reliable the information we received was. We stopped in a small town, Checacupe, for a toilet break, but the guide and the Argentines decided to stop for a beer. The rest of the trip was awful with drunken slurred English stories which made no sense at all!
We arrived in Cusco, and the tour company decided to drop everyone at the Plaza de Armas instead of at our hostels. Max left his hat on the van, which we eventually got back. Though it did take 2 attempts into town and 45min of waiting.
Rainbow Mountain was beautiful, but we would recommend doing it yourself as there was no need for a guide.