If you thought our early mornings were over after Machu Picchu, you were mistaken and so was I! This morning we left Cusco for Rainbow Mountain at 6am and had a 3.5hour drive to the mountain. The base of Rainbow Mountain is 14,000ft above sea level and the submit is 17,000ft above sea level. This is the highest altitude we have reached yet! Coca tea, water and a lot of Muña with agua Florida is going to be very important today. Not only is it going to be hard to breathe, it is going to be COLD, very cold. The bus ride was windy and as we climbed higher I already felt the sickness coming on so I closed my eyes for the majority of the ride. I woke up nearly an hour away from our destination as we twisted and turned through the mountains. Rainbow Mountain has been around for millions of years although tourism here only began TWO years ago in 2015 and official guided tours did not begin until 2016. However, Peruvians have been hiking this range for centuries because Rainbow Mountain looks out over the great Ausangate. Ausangate is the most sacred mountain in Peru. It is the giver, the origin of life so Peruvians trek Ausangate to give thanks for their life and to ask for good fortune for the year to come. There are two ways up Rainbow Mountain, by hiking or by horse, and I was going to do everything in my power to round me up a nice Stallion. Being that tourism here still is not established, there are not organized horses or tours. There are local farmers you can pay to bring you up the mountain. However many farmers show up that day, and they determine how many horse are available, so our fingers are crossed. We actually had arrived late to the base of the mountain and when we got there most people were finishing up the trek so we were able to round up a few horses fairly quickly. By horseback, the hike takes about an hour to the base of the submit. I was under the impression that the horse would be taking us to the submit but don’t be fooled, you still have a 40 minute hike to the submit after you dismount the horse. The ride was beautiful. The mountain ranges around us were soaring and the colors deepened as we moved onward. The Rainbow Mountains are filled with a rare variety of iron rich minerals that have changed colors due to their different exposure to water and oxygen. The mountain is filled with rich lavenders, blues, gold and varying shades of red and green.
By the time we reached the submit, everyone else was already on their way down that we had the entire mountain to ourselves! It was spectacular. After a lot of photos and our fingers starting to go numb we decided to head back down so we could get back to Cusco for dinner.
We haven’t had many opportunities to explore the food scene in the city so we had to make the most out of our last night. We started with Pisco Sours at the JW Marriott, then headed to Cicciolina for a tapas spread and ceviche, which was unbelievable all before hitting our reservation at MAP Cafe. MAP Cafe is a pre-fixe fine dining restaurant in the heart of Cusco. With only 10 tables, unbelievable service and extraordinary food it is one of the most intimate and highly recommended restaurants I have ever visited. When staying in Cusco, MAP Cafe should be at the top of your dining list!