When most people think about Peru they usually think Machu Picchu, but I have to say – Rainbow Mountain is and should be a place every Peru traveler must visit. I must warn you, this trek is not for the faint of heart. It’ll take about 2 1/2 hours of walking time to complete from beginning to end – at 14,000 feet you’ll feel each and every step and breath taken. I will also say that you should consider spending a few days in Cusco to acclimate to the altitude change. People have been known to collapse of exhaustion and severe altitude change. There are alternatives to reaching the top – you can be guided on horseback from the starting or midway point if you feel you can’t make it on your own. It’s an awesome feeling to reach the top from a vantage point and see this brutal trek for its actual beauty. The landscape slowly transforms the further you climb, the point of this journey is not the final destination but the entire journey itself. Sure, the actual Rainbow Mountain is a really cool sight to take in but the entire trek itself is the true spectacle.
Along the way you will encounter a lot of horses and natives guiding these horses, for people with health conditions this is an awesome way to still enjoy the trek and not feel left out. I personally enjoy a good challenge and I was determined to complete this trek on my own – I was even ambitious enough to sign up for an added trek; on the other side of Rainbow Mountain is an even more brutal crucible called the Red Valley.
The climb to the top is pretty brutal, especially towards the end, while you are already tired and have been climbing for about an hour you come face to face with a series of unforgiving hills. This is where you see many people stop to take a much needed break or give in to renting a horse to reach the top. Once you reach the top you are swiftly reminded as to why you signed up to this torture – it all becomes worth it when you gaze at the natural beauty across the horizon.
When you reach the top you are granted a real good panoramic view of Rainbow Mountain and the surrounding areas – and it’s all worth the pain! This place is absolutely beautiful.
Like with any tourist attraction always expect many other tourist to hinder your photography. This place see’s lots of tourists daily, and it might be tough getting the perfect shot of this beautiful scenery. Still, do what you can to get the perfect shot, after-all it is the reason why you came, isn’t it?!
Behind every mountain there is a valley – and these grounds are holy or at least they were to me. I not only completed the Rainbow Mountain trek, I also signed up to do this absolutely stunning yet rigorous Red Valley trek, but man was it a brutal hike. It added another 3-4 hours of hiking after the tough climb to the top of Rainbow Mountain! But it was completely worth it. This is were I found Jesus – and I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, I mean it in truth, I found Jesus here. He spoke to me here. Without getting into all the details of the hard knocks of my life, I was about to embark on what would be the toughest season of my life and I heard God’s audible voice in my mind say, “this next part is gonna hurt”; and hurt it did, for the next few months and years pain would be part of my journey. Psalm 23 immediately became as vivid as this beautiful valley before me. Even though the journey in front of me would be brutal just as the next years of my life would be, I knew and felt God was with me. He was with me then and He is with me now and forever. That is His promise and I believe His promise.
Psalm 23; 1-6.
A psalm of David.
1 . The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
I spoke to Jesus the entire trek and from this moment I chose to fully trust Him with the rest of my life – knowing that His plan for my life is good. I endured pain on this mountain and I would endure so much more pain in the years to come, but God never left my side. Throughout this journey and many others i’ve learned not to confuse God with life. Ugly and tough things happen in life, but God is with us no matter how ugly or tough things get – He will lead and go through any situation with us.
What made this trek so difficult was the fact that there was no official trail to follow. There were about 30 other hikers in this group and though we all started at the same time, we eventually broke off into smaller units and went about on our own pace. It didn’t matter when you finished, so long as you finished. Unlike Rainbow Mountain, there were no horses or guides to walk you to the finish. You either had to give up and return through Rainbow Mountain or continue along this beautiful brutality and reach the end of the valley on your own. Not everyone made it to the end, but the ones that did took home an experience of a lifetime. Every step hurt, but was worth every exhausting effort.
I was completely blown away by the sheer beauty of this place. God is an amazing artist and I traveled thousands of miles to view His work of art. Like an open air museum, God’s creation was everywhere under the sun and it is absolutely stunning. This trek changed my life – I met Jesus and chose to follow Him from this moment. I made the decision to get baptized and follow Him, here, in this beautiful but brutal place. This is where my life journey and walk with God began. Each choice good or bad led me here and I believe God was waiting for me to arrive and follow Him. And I did.
After hours walking, climbing, falling down and feeling every brutal step, I reached the end where our bus would take us into a nearby town for a much deserved meal. As soon as I got back to my room, I took some pain relievers and slept for many hours. My body was completely sore and it took a couple of days for me to fully recover. Despite feeling sore I had to prepare for my next journey: four days in the amazon. Peru is such a stunning place, beauty is found literally everywhere. I felt so blessed to have had the opportunity to visit and experience so many amazing places during this trip. I have been to some great places around the world, but this journey topped my list, mainly for its spiritual significance. Peru is a place every traveler should visit at some point in their lifetime. Happy Travels!