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A Breathtaking Journey to Peru's Rainbow Mountains

Edited By: Natalie Smith

 With my retirement, a year and a few months ago, I decided that it was time to look at different and distant landscapes, which led me and my two children to a trip around Peru for a whole month that turned out to be a wonderful and unforgettable experience. After visiting Lima, Cusco and the Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu, we heard about a highly recommended hike called the Ausangate Trek. When we looked for information about the route ahead, we encountered pictures of magnificent rainbow-colored mountains, a landscape we had never seen before, so we decided we had to get there. Determined and enthusiastic, we embarked on a breathtaking journey, and you are invited to accompany us and enjoy the wonderful views and the unique atmosphere of Peru.

Mount Ausangate

We took our first steps toward Mount Ausangata in Vilcanota, which is part of the Andes Mountains and is 6,384 meters high. This area is of great importance in Inca mythology, and a young man we met at the beginning of the trek told us that the glaciers and snow at the top of the mountain create lush rivers that provide water to the nearby villages - that is why the locals call the mountain "the source of life". During this part of the trip, we also saw an abundance of beautiful llamas and alpacas, some of which belonged to shepherds who marched with great pride.

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Peru

Apu Trail

The paths surrounding Mount Ausangata served the Incas as a pilgrimage route when they set off on a journey to meet Apu, the spirit of mountains according to local mythology. The purpose of the journey was to ask the spirit important questions, hoping that they would be lead to the right path. This information only increased the excitement and anticipation ahead, and we went out into the unknown with the temperatures outside almost freezing. Our goal was to make our way around the mountain and to walk a path that reaches more than 4,000 meters above sea level.
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I must point out that as we walked, we realized that the sights we saw were a celebration for the eyes, in light of the clear blue lakes and the steep passages to desert landscapes that left us gaping. Moreover, our curiosity had peaked at this point over what awaits us at the end of the trek, since it is very difficult to imagine anything more beautiful than the view that sat before us.

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During the five-day hike, we stopped at the local inns decorated with the huge mountain views and were pleased to discover they offered exceptional service and amenities - comfortable rooms, private bathrooms, hot water that soothed the tired muscles and warmed our cold bodies, as well as warm and cozy beds. Also worthy of praise is the wonderful performance we watched at one of the inns of local and talented musicians who introduced us to popular Andes music in – which had us on our feet dancing.
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After resting and gathering our strength, we continued on the beautiful path, aiming to reach the colorful mountains we wanted so much to see. When we reached the glacier valley, we got to know the local’s daily routine by seeing an older man trying to fish, children running home holding hands, and of course a few more alpacas in the area which enriched the landscape even more.
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Beyond the fact that we encountered amazing landscapes that justified the journey, the trip was like entering a time machine; This is because the Quechua people continue to live and exist like their ancestors, with few influences from the modern world. This is a community of shepherds that remains among a few others, which survives off the lamas and alpacas that they use for food and clothing, helping them survive in the cold and harsh climate of the region.

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With the coming of the darkness, thousands of stars filled their role in the sky and illuminated the night, as a clear sign of a cosmic connection between Apu and the local inhabitants.

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Before we left for the last part of the journey, where we had to climb up to the highest part of the 5,150-meter course, we decided to ask for a blessing from the mountain spirit to protect us during the climb. After brief instruction, we understood that we had to collect a number of coca leaves (which are of medical and religious importance in Peru, and also contain one percent cocaine), hold four leaves and blow on them in the direction of the mountains while thinking good thoughts. Finally, an elderly man living in the area helped us light the leaves, and after they completely burned the prayers were accepted, and we did indeed finish the climb successfully!

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Rainbow Mountains

Peru

The climax of the journey came on the fourth day of the trek when we reached the top of the mountain and suddenly saw a powerful beauty that we had never seen before. We finally reach the tall standing mounts dripping in pastel colors, and it was clear to me that this colorful mountain range justified every step of this wonderful journey.

Peru
Peru
Peru
Peru
The beautiful landscapes did not disappear after we passed the colorful mountain, and every corner managed to enchant me, my children and all those present. I hope you were able to enjoy and absorb the atmosphere from our wonderful trip, and if you ever visit the area, don’t miss the opportunity to see this natural wonder yourself - definitely a reality beyond imagination!
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