Day 31 - Hike to Palccoyo (The Alternative Rainbow Mountain)

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November 4th 2018
Published: November 5th 2018
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Up at 3.25am for my Alternative Rainbow Mountain (Palccoyo) tour. It is called "Alternative" because the original Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) tour is now extremely popular but is also a difficult trek because of the altitude. The alternative one is actually three smaller mountains and the hike to the top is about one hour instead of 2.5 to 3 hours, so figured it was much more achievable.

Whatsapp is used extensively through South America and the tour guide Carlos sent messages to each person when it was their turn for pick up. I was picked up at 04.05.

First stop after 30 minutes was a Bakery where were all given some bread to share but later on at a roadhouse called Quinta Restaurant near Checacupe we had breakfast. There was an unscheduled stop along the way and Carlos got out and collected some plants which are called muna. These are rubbed between your hands and you smell it. There is also a liquid form you can buy. They smell like strong mint but help clear your breathing passages. We were all given some to keep in our pockets.

At 07:40 we stopped and Carlos took us a short distance from the road to some small caves that had rock paintings, but he said that no-one really knows who is responsible for them. There was another unscheduled stop as we passed a two young children. Two of the girls in the group, Janet and Zoe, had bought along bags of gifts for kids and they asked Carlos to stop the bus and they got out to give them the gifts and then took polaroids to give to them. Such a lovely gesture.

At 08:40, we had a short stop to look at some alpacas grazing, but they kept on moving away from us as we approached for photos. Carlos said they re very shy and timid creatures.

As we got closer to Palccoyo, the scenery was getting spectacular and entering the park, the weather looked sunny and fine but as we started our trek at 09:05, Carlos warned us to still take our warm and wet weather gear because the weather can change very quickly at this altitude. Sure enough he was spot on, we reached the first lookout at 09:35, but just before finishing the hike to the second lookout at 10:03, it suddenly started snowing and it was getting colder. Nevertheless we had a 30 minute stop here, with the Vilcanote Mountain range in front of us. Carlos and the driver, Redy who had also come to assist, gave us the Peruvian drink chicha morada made from purple corn that we also had in Ollantaytambo and chocolate to give us an energy boost.

At 10:26 we had the option to go back the same way or push onto the summit. All except Zoe decided to continue. Redy went back with her while Carlos continued on with us. I must say I was very impressed with the way they looked after us and would highly recommend them as a company to use if you travel to Cusco. The summit hike was the hardest part and you can actually see it zig-zag up to a group of needle shaped rocks. At this altitude I took it very slowly and reached the summit at 10:50. We stayed here for about 15 minutes before making our descent which was a darn site easier than the ascent, although you did have to watch your step as there was snow on the ground at this high point. We reached the bottom around 11:30 and hopped back into the bus.

We then all had a good rest in the bus before stopping at 13:30 at Checacupe again but this time to see an original Inca rope bridge with a beautiful stone bridge behind it. The rope bridge can still be crossed which is exactly what we all did. Then a short drive to the same restaurant we went to this morning, for a well earned lunch. Out came some delicious quinoa soup and garlic bread and we all felt satisfied with that, to discover that that was just entrée. We then had a selection of a creamy chicken dish, beef salad and a few other salads for main course. We were all very satisfied with our lunch.

We left there about 14:40 and I got back to the hotel around 17:00 being one of the last to be dropped off and Daisy was already back as well. We then decided to have dinner at one of the chicken restaurants across the road and the one we chose was very good. We had a “normal” meal of half roast chicken and chips with a free salad bar and then early to bed for another early pick up to the airport for our flight to Arequipa, still in Peru.

As Daisy and I did separate things today, here is Daisy’s account for the day:

Today I had a rest day.

I went to the laundromat with 3 kgs of Machu Picchu washing.

Went on a 'free' city talk and saw Taupac Amaru's resting place in the main plaza in Cuzco. (He led the Andean's against the Spanish in Peru.)

Had photos taken with llamas and alpaca. Listened to the history of the structures around Cuzco and ended the tour at a local market where for about $Aus3 you were given a jug of freshly squeezed juice (mango, Orange, pineapple and ginger.) It was so big I couldn’t finish it. That was my lunch.

Some more perusing before I headed home to collect the washing. I tried calling my mum at the hotel who let me use their for free but 'no pickup.'

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