Check out our adventure in Peru and discover a secret place in the Andes with amazing painted colored mountains
"It always seems impossible until it's done" - N. Mandela
Something about Palcoyo
We know.. most of you are thinking "OK guys, you mean Vinicunca rainbow mountains".
No it is not an error, we really want to talk you about Palcoyo, a beautiful natural site hopefully less known and incredibly still outside the mass tourism circuit of Cusco.
First of all, this means that you will probably enjoy your breathtaking trekking in complete authonomy (or with small groups of people) compared to the long queue of tourists in Vinicunca.
Secondly, Palcoyo offers not one, but a group of colored mountains composed by stratified layers of sandstone with large amounts of iron and other minerals, giving the mountains the pigments for the various colored stripes.
Are you ready to take a walk with us?
WHEN: the best period to plan a trekking here is from April to November (dry season). Because the altitude (around 5000 meters slm) even during sunny days the weather can turn windy and change very rapidly; our suggestion is to bring with you technical warm clothes also during Summer. Don't forget your sun protection!
HOW FAR: approx. 4 hours driving from Cusco city. The last hour an unpaved road climbs up to the mountain and the path is somewhere very narrow. Consider to rent an appropriate car (no bus, caravan, etc) or to take part to a guided tour with a local expert.
DIFFICULTY: the trekking is not complex itself and a specific training is not required. There are multiple viewpoint along the gentle path and in 1 hour from the parking area you can reach one of the best observation point with no rush. This does not mean that you will not feel the effort of the climb! Start your day with the right physical condition and take a good rest the previous night.
HOW TO FACE: Stay hydrated, keep the air 4-6 seconds before exhaling for a better oxygenation, take a rest when you feel tired, listen your body: the way our body reacts to the altitude can vary from one person to another. In case of a light altitude sickness* a remedy can be Coca leaves or, like in our case, a thermos with some Mate de Coca tea. In case it is not producing a relief the only way is to come back to a lower altitude (below 3000 meters).
MEDICIN AIDS: this is not a suggestion but only our experience. As always before leaving for a long trip abroad we visit the travel medicine department of our region (here you ca find all the addresses in Tuscany - Italy https://www.vaccinarsintoscana.org/info-utili/ambulatori-medicina-viaggiatori) to understand how to face the travel at the best. For this adventure we decided to take DIAMOX. It did not caused any undesired effect and we never suffered of altitude sickness. One more time, we are not suggesting you to do the same but to consult your doctor before thaking any decision.
*Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the negative health effect of high altitude caused by a rapid exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high elevation. Most common symptoms may include headaches, vomiting, tiredness, trouble sleeping, and dizziness.
How to get to
Palcoyo is located in the Checacupe district, approx. 3 hours and half far from Cusco city.
Whether is possible to reach the mountain in complete authonomy we opt for a private tour with a local guide. The road up to the Checacupe bridge is a modern large road but from this point onward it becomes an unpaved and narrow path with no road signs, crossing small traditional villages with just few houses.
The few people around looks our car with curiosity and children jump up greeting us.
In the very last stretch of road a small hut confirms that we are close to our destination and we take a quick stop to pay the entrance fee (only 10 soles per person).
Not far from this point a herd of llamas block the small road up for a couple of minutes and we patiently wait our turn to cover the last mile to get to the parking area.
Once arrived in the parking area there is immediately a panoramic lookout where to enjoy the view of the first colored mountain.
Despite the sun it is quite cold and we are happy to wear our technical clothes and a warm hat. Some clouds are rapidly running across the sky and we delay a bit the start of our trekking to take some shots of the mountain hit by the sun.
From this point starts a beautiful and gentle path which offers some awesome views of the rock forest which temporarily hides the other colored mountains.
The climb is probably one of the most moving experience of our trip; personally we hardly felt something similar in other trekkings.
The breath become short after few steps and the hearth seems to explode from the accelerated beats, nevertheless we feel another new energy in our body. Passion, harmony with the nature, curiosity and joy of life flows in our veins and give us the strenght to go ahead step by step.. and Mother Nature (Pachamama for ancient Incas) give us these breathtaking views.
To discover more about these place, have a look to our posts and stories dedicated to Peru dated August/September 2019 on our Instagram page @2intour
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