Peru's Rainbow Mountain Lives On… For Now
2018's most recognisable and 'grammable' destinations have been declared safe from mining, for now. The rainbow mountains in Peru, known locally as Winikunka or Mountain of Seven Colours, became famous through travellers Instagram accounts. Amazing pictures of stripy hillsides glowing from turquoise, lavender, red-violet and gold grabbed people’s attention. Thousands of likes later it became a must-see destination. But, when we see fantastic colours, mining companies see dollar signs. In March 2018 a mining company was given the rights for exploration. However, in June the company said it would give up these rights. Uncertainty remained until last Friday, the Peruvian government backtracked and removed all mining licences and instead moved to declare it a regional conservation area. Although, this ban on mining licences lasts for 12 months.
Rachel Willimas, Founder and Managing director of Viva Expeditions says "This is wonderful news! The rainbow mountains have provided a much-needed economic boost for local communities. However, we have had reports that its popularity has also created problems due to the unprepared infrastructure. We hope plans will now begin on supporting new local tourism job creation and infrastructure coping strategies to prevent issues created by overtourism".
It is believed the mountain was only discovered about 5 years ago. Thanks to global warming, maybe no thanks in the long run, the ice melted, and the colourful stripes were revealed. This was great for locals as the economy in the local region received a tourism boost and new jobs were created in the form of guides and horse rides that cover the long trek. However, as experienced by many destinations that are suddenly pushed into the Instagram lime-light, the infrastructure struggled and environmental degradation and overtourism issues have been reported.
Although, standing at 16,000 feet above sea level and way off the usual tourist trail, Viva Expeditions warns that the Rainbow Mountain is actually very hard to visit. Viva Expeditions has seen a huge increase in travellers’ interest in the area but once the difficulties in getting there are realised, many decide to opt out. It is possible to do the journey from Cusco in one day but you have to be an early riser, getting up at 3:15 am ready to embark on a 3-hour road trip. The hike to the rainbow mountain will then take around 3 hours and the hike back is about 2-2.5 hours. It is a challenging day of hiking and requires good fitness levels and acclimatisation before it is attempted. It will take a full day to complete a visit to Rainbow mountain and can be a struggle due to the high elevation.
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About Viva Expeditions
Viva Expeditions is a Latin America and Antarctica travel specialist with over ten years’ experience of routes, destinations as well as the Central and South American people and their cultures. Each employee has travelled independently or worked as a tour leader and guide reaching the furthermost reaches of the continent. The company has driven over half a million kilometres in South America.
Viva Expeditions creates and operates its own small group holidays and overland expeditions. The company’s trips include carefully designed small ship cruises, overland expeditions, tailor-made adventures and luxury escapes. Viva Expedition’s holiday collection consists of 190 tours to Antarctica, South and Central America.
As proud members of Rainforest Alliance, Viva Expeditions highly values responsible tourism as a dynamic way to create better experiences for travellers while benefiting the environment and local populations.
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Founder and Managing Director Rachel Williams travel across South America year-round. You will probably find Rachel swimming in the Antarctic sea or travelling in the wilds of Patagonia.
Rachel previously worked for five years as a tour guide in South America then worked for a wholesaler in New Zealand. She quickly noticed her colleagues had no experience of the South American continent. Driven to give others the Latin America experience she loves, Rachel launched Viva Expeditions in 2008.