While we love to offer what people want, sometimes we have to say no. As a company that prides itself on operating responsibly, Rainbow Mountain is not something we can offer at present.
It is a perfect example of how tourism can go wrong. Plucked from obscurity a few years ago, it soon went viral on Instagram.
The result was a sudden boom with no control. Communities bulldozed car parks and roads into the fragile, high altitude environment, to cope with the sudden explosion of visitors. Cheap, often unlicensed operators led the charge, undercutting each other on price and quality to gain their portion of the sudden gold rush of tourists wanting to go there.
About 1000 people per day go to Rainbow Mountain- there are queues for selfies, and the paths are being badly eroded, which increases erosion through run off of rain.
When you introduce large amounts of money to a place that previously had very little, it can cause problems. There was a pitched battle between two communities in 2019 on the top, video here. People fought each other with slingshots and stones because one community had built a shorter access route, which the other community feared was going to cut them out of the money. One person died and various were injured.
Local authorities have intervened several times due to the number of unlicensed operators taking tourists to the mountain. They have also had to close the route several times due to bad weather with unscrupulous operators continuing to try and take tourists there, despite conditions on the mountain and the drive there being unsuitable due to snow. Various tourists have had to be rescued suffering from hypothermia, due to being inadequately prepared and because the companies continued to try and operate despite the warnings.
There is also the altitude issue, at 5200m, it is very high. By comparison, the highest point on the Inca Trail is 4200m, the highest point on our Lares trek is 4400m. Most people do not have time here to acclimatise properly to 5000m+ heights. There was a death last year, a trekker suffering a heart attack, due to the extra stress on his heart due to the extreme altitude.
So sorry, we would not be responsible if we offered it. We do however offer the Ausangate Circuit, a fantastic 5-day trek which gives you views of rainbow coloured mountains. You will probably have the trek to yourself. It is a trek we would love to sell more, but with two passes over 5000m, it is, unfortunately, a little too tough for most people, who do not have the time to acclimatise. But if you are looking for a real challenge, and beautiful remote trekking, and you have the time to acclimatise properly beforehand, then this is the best trek of its kind in Southern Peru.
Photo by baldpacker.com0