We got back from Macchu Pitchu at 9:30pm and were due to be picked up for Rainbow Mountain at 3:15am. Again, I don’t recommend going by our tight schedule. But with Paul only here for a few weeks, I was determined to make sure he didn’t miss out on anything.
From my, very limited, knowledge of hiking I know that it is not recommended to ascend more than 500m in one day. For rainbow mountain you go from Cusco at 3,300m to the top of rainbow at 5,200m in less that 10 hours. That’s nearly 2,000m! Although we were not staying at that height and would be returning on the same day, I was still cautious of the effects.
The bus took three hours to reach the start point of the trek, where we would have breakfast before starting. Just before the bus arrived, Paul got sick, we were at about 4,200m at this stage and I was not feeling to hopeful for his chances on the trek but the guide assured us that it was ok and manageable. I was a bit more skeptical but the guide does this every day so I presumed he knew what he was doing.
After breakfast we started off but Paul wasn’t feeling great. There was an option to get a horseback ride to the end to save energy but Paul didn’t want to take it. He powered on through even though he didn’t feel great until he got to a point where he got sick again. I wasn’t comfortable for him to continue at this stage so we waited for the guide who checked his symptoms and said he was ok to continue but if he started feeling x, y, z that he should stop and tell him immediately.
I had heard that the trek was quite tough but in honesty, if you are not affected by the altitude then the trek is relatively ok. As Paul struggled through and had to take several breaks, it was the altitude and not the trek itself that was holding him back. About 75% of the way into the trek we got to a point where, time wise we were running low so I had to leave Paul with the guide to make sure I had time to make it to the top. It’s not something I liked doing but he was in good hands with the guide anyway. He got a horse the rest of the way to the last final hill and made it up. Here’s the picture to prove it!
I can’t really describe my admiration for the effort he put in to get to the top. He kept going when many others would have given up. As you read this you might think the guide was being irresponsible letting Paul continue, a thought that crossed my mind more than once, but there was another guy on the trek who the guide had to stop and turn back because he was too sick. I think it showed that the guide knew what the limits were.
The Rainbow mountain trek is one of the most beautiful scenes you might ever see, even the surrounding mountains are a sight to see. But my advice to anyone doing it is simply do it but be sure that you are acclimatised enough. Altitude doesn’t affect everyone but you need to be careful if it does.
Tips and Prices:
Our tour including transport, breakfast, lunch (two lunches if you are me and get to eat Pauls!) and a return bus cost $40 US dollars. Very good value for money in my opinion.
We used the same agency as before (as we had already had it booked and had no time to risk changing it) and it couldn’t have went any better organisation wise. So it just goes to show that there is a bit of luck to it.
Our taxi from hostel to the Peru hop pick up point was 15 soles.