Rainbow Mountain, or as the locals know it, Vinicunca, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru in this current day and age. Whether you’ve been there or not, you will surely have seen photos of its fantastic array of colors set in the middle of the Andean Mountain range.
The locals want to preserve the site as much as possible, which is why you can only drive to a certain point before walking for around 2 hours to see the magnificent mountain. But why are they taking so much care of it? Can a mountain really be damaged by visitors?
The reason is that each of its individual colors is from a different natural element that has dyed it. If people were to walk all over it, they would soon ruin the different lines and may all merge into one. So, what are the origins of these impressive colors? Let’s take a closer look.
The Different Layers
Anyone can see the colors on the mountain, and the fact that they all stand out so distinctly. They don’t mix into one another and it’s clear to name each color that appears.
They came about due to erosion of the minerals inside the mountain because of volcanic activity and a few tectonic shifts of the Nazca plates. The land was then exposed due to a lot of natural elements by Mother Nature (Pachamama) such as rain, wind, and even snowfall.
Eventually, it all leads to the creation of the fantastic rainbow-colored mountain we see today. Now let’s see the origin of each of its colors and what created them.
- Pink – The pink color came about due to red clay, mud, and sand.
- White – This color comes from substances rich in calcium carbonates such as quartzose, sandstone, and marls.
- Red – This strong color is made up of clays and claystones.
- Green and Blue – These come from a compound of phyllites and more clays that are rich in ferromagnesian.
- Earthy Brown – The brown is made up of rock and magnesium.
- Yellow – This last one is comprised of layers of iron sulphide.
Why Has It Become Popular in Recent Years?
For many, many years the mountain and all its colors were hidden under snow and the freeze of glaciers in the Peruvian mountains. It is only in recent years that they have become clearer and, therefore, more popular with tourists.
Why Should the Area be Preserved?
More and more visitors are visiting the site each day, which means that the ground will get worn away. As long as we stick to the designated path, we won’t do any damage to the mountain itself, nor the red valley that sits beside it.
You will see when you visit, that you aren’t even allowed to touch the mountain. The more people who touch it means it would slowly erode and lose the beautiful look it has now. The area needs to be preserved to protect our earth and its natural elements.
It is also home to a lot of alpaca and llama. They don’t usually graze or spend time on the mountain, but they can be found all along the way. Protecting their natural habitat should be a priority, so we need to keep the trail clean and maintained.
So Now You Know
We’ve shared the details of how the mountain got its colors and why we need to keep it in the same condition. All that’s left now is for you to visit it! So put on your hiking boots and book a tour.
Written by: Liv Palmer