When I first stumbled upon an image of Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca on Instagram a year ago, I couldn’t believe such a place exists. I mean, it looks like a slice of ham or rainbow cake, but you know when they say you can’t get to a place you don’t believe exists. So after I purchased my flight tickets to Peru, I knew I have two missions here: Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain. Well, I guess life has bigger missions for me rather than just visiting two places.
How to get to Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca?
I joined Rainbow Mountain Travels for USD30/person including pick up/drop off, breakfast, lunch, and guides. They pick you up at your hotels in Cusco at 3.00 am, I know it’s super early and super cold too ( don’t forget to bring gloves and scarf ) but actually it’s good to start hiking early before other travel companies drop their guests.
While Colca Canyon taught me so much about strength and resilience, I found the hardest part of hiking Rainbow Mountain was simply dealing with the altitude sickness. With an altitude of 5200 m above sea level, it was definitely not easy to hike Vinicunca. But that’s what I love most about being in nature, feeling so tiny but yet so alive. Mother nature knows best how to humble, surprise and remind you that you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. Breathing is hard enough when you start hiking the Rainbow Mountain, but when you take a pause, look around and see how the local people bring tourists up and down the mountain, working so hard to earn a living…I feel incredibly lucky and blessed for all the opportunities and access I have to chase my dreams and live the kind of life I have always dreamed of. Sure I have problems but it’s nothing compared to how hard these people have to work every day. After one and a half hours ( plus so many breaks in between ) I finally made it to the top of Rainbow Mountain. There’s a sense of pride, a joy that I couldn’t even explain but also a huge question mark how did I even get here? Looking back, things were so different last year.
It’s crazy I’ve been in Peru now for over a month. I had a goal to hit South America this year and I’m grateful Peru has been nothing short of amazing from day one. This country has filled my soul with peace, joy, love, and gratitude. I remember I was so nervous the moment I landed at Jorge Chavez International Airport, Lima. I don’t speak Spanish and if you read the news, people would only tell you how dangerous Peru is - especially for solo female travelers. No one really describes or write how magical this country. How incredibly nice and kind Peruvian people, and ohh the food…how delicious and cheap Peruvian food, honestly I couldn’t stop eating. I also find Peru is safe, pretty tourist-friendly but you still have to be careful. Within a month, I’ve grown from someone who walked into a local restaurant in Lima and pointed the food that I want to eat without actually know the words, to someone who gets more confident each day as I pick up new words in Spanish. I made new friends not only with a bunch of travelers but also Peruvian people I met at the hotel, cafes, pole dance studio. If only I knew what was waiting for me in Peru, that life has prepared this huge surprise with a huge amount of love, wild adventures, lessons, challenges, beautiful nature, food, culture, and people. But of course from the beginning of the trip even months before I purchased my tickets, somehow I knew Peru would change my life for the better. I knew this entire trip would be a life-changing experience. I knew I’d meet the right people and life would take care of me as usual, provide me with everything I need from good stamina, good weather to good people. Something tells me everything’s going to be fine and I’m going to have so much fun.