This vibrant mountain is all natural. It’s made up of 14 different colored minerals that give it a rainbow-like look.
Vinicunca, also known as Montaa de Siete Colores (Seven Colores Mountain), is a component of Peru’s unique natural topography. It’s in the Peruvian Andes, near Cusco, at an elevation of 17,100 feet (5200 meters). Hundreds of tourists visit the mountain each day to see this multicolored geological wonder, which has swiftly become one of Peru’s must-see sights.
Hikers and visitors who want to view Vinicunca for themselves must travel around five miles round trip. It’s well worth the trip because the entire environment is as breathtaking as the peak itself.
However, because high elevations can be taxing on the body, the hike requires considerable fitness and acclimatization before embarking on the journey. Furthermore, local Peruvian communities regard Vinicunca and its environs as sacred ground, and while visitors are warmly welcomed, they are expected to behave respectfully in accordance with local customs.
Vinicunca’s bright colors, according to the Cultural Landscape Office of the City of Cusco’s Decentralization, are attributed to its mineral composition. Red clay (iron) is responsible for the red and pink hues, whereas quartz, sandstone, and marls are responsible for the whitish hues. The earthy brown and yellow colors are owing to fanglomerate and sulfurous sandstones, while the green and turquoise colors are due to phyllites and clays rich in ferromagnesian.
But how did this incredible mountain come to be?
The minerals in old soils were eroded and transported by massive water masses during the Tertiary and Quaternary periods (66 and 2,588 million years ago). These minerals stacked up on top of one other during geological time periods, generating different colored strata ordered according to the weight of every mineral.
These vivid stratigraphic strata were hidden for a long time, sheltered by the Peruvian Andes glacier’s snow. However, as a result of climate change, the glaciers have melted, revealing Vinicunca’s geological beauty. So, while it’s wonderful that we can trek to Rainbow Mountain and view it in all of its glory, we must remember why we can do so now, and what changes are occurring on our world as a result of global warming.
This remarkable location is also home to a diverse and fascinating wildlife. The famed llamas and alpacas may be seen all across this remote part of the Peruvian Andes. Skunks, deer, foxes, tapir, guinea pigs, and chinchillas are also present. The puma, Andean condor, and even the spectacled bear, the world’s sole remaining short-faced bear species, are all extremely rare.
Given Vinicunca’s altitude, which is more than half that of Mount Everest, weather may be fickle, with temperatures regularly falling below zero. Nonetheless, the weather near Rainbow Mountain can quickly vary from scorching sun to rain or even snow in less than an hour.
Despite this, worries are increasing over whether the area’s discovery and the enormous number of hikers contribute to the destruction of the formerly unspoilt terrain.
While tourism in the Vinicunca area boosted the local economy by around 400,000 dollars per year, alarming changes have already occurred: a wetland that had been home to migrating ducks was destroyed to make way for a tourist parking lot, and the 5-mile-long hiking trail has been seriously damaged by human presence. Despite concerns from communities in the Cusco region, mining corporations took the initiative to perform metallic mining in the area.