This rainbow-striped mountain in Peru may resemble an abstract painting but is, in fact, an entirely natural phenomenon, drawing visitors from far and wide committed to finding out if the candy-colored rumors are true.
Vinicunca, otherwise known as Rainbow Mountain or Montaña de Siete Colores (Mountain of Seven Colors), is part of the South American Andes mountain range in the Cusco region of Peru. Its peak rises 17,060 feet (approx. 5,200 meters) above sea level.
The mountain’s colorful facade owes to exposed sedimentary rock layers. As ice covering Vinicunca gradually melted, the ground continued to erode, and different mineral layers were uncovered leaving a myriad of colors.
The red is oxidized iron, the pink is clay, mud, and sand, the white is various forms of calcium carbonate, the earthy brown owes to rocks rich in magnesium, the yellow is due to the presence of iron sulphide, the purple is from goethite, or oxidized limonite, and the turquoise is due to the presence of chlorite and not due to vegetation, Peru Grand Travel explains.
Yet while the rainbow phenomenon is real, viewers need to be aware that some photos can be misleading, since many have been tempted to use editing software to augment the colors before posting photos to social media.
Tourists can access Vinicunca’s trailhead at Qesoyuno by driving three hours from Cusco by car or a tour bus. The most spectacular lookout point is accessible by hiking a challenging six-mile round trip and it’s best to head out before dawn, according to Pure Wow.
The best views will be present on a bright, clear day, and the colors will appear most vibrant in photos taken at the golden hours of dawn or dusk. Rainbow Mountain Peru suggests visiting between March and November when the sky is blue and the weather is warm.
Historically, lithium miners have targeted the mountain, but all mining activity at Vinicunca stopped in 2018. The site was declared a Regional Conservation Area the following year.
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