A recent article in the New York Times highlights the environmental damage and potential safety issues of a day trip to Peru´s Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca). The focus of the article is large, groups that depart daily from Cusco´s Plaza de Armas and return to Cusco that same day.
While these tours are inexpensive, they are also responsible for a great deal of environmental damage. The primary issue is that large groups tread across the same trail and back each day, leading to the destruction of the delicate wetlands below the mountain.
This is compounded by a new dirt road that has been created to get closer to the mountain, allowing large vans further into the once pristine area. This is the main reason why Ayni Peru doesn´t offer the standard day trip!
Peru´s Rainbow Mountain is an incredible, unforgettable site. So what is a responsible traveler that would like to visit the area to do? There are several excellent route alternatives to the multicolored mountain, many of which include the Ausangate Massif.
These include Ayni Peru´s 2-4 day trek routes, which we always operate in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. On these routes, the Rainbow Mountain is accessed through little-trafficked trails, which cuts down on environmental impact. In addition, you´ll be able to visit the mountain before the large, above-mentioned groups arrive.
Traveling with a licensed trek agency such as Ayni Peru to the Rainbow Mountain has additional advantages. Our clients travel with licensed, highly experienced guides. All know our multiple routes extremely well, speak English, and are trained in first aid. They carry first aid kits, oxygen canisters, and provide an “emergency” riding horse in case any trekkers need a break.
In sum, the environmental degradation along the day route to Peru´s Rainbow Mountain is an extremely serious issue that requires intervention by the local government.
Travel with an environmentally and socially responsible operator based in Cusco, Peru is an ideal alternative. Licensed operators, such as Ayni Peru, offer safe, amazingly beautiful routes throughout the area. If you are interested in joining us, please contact [email protected] for details!