The Ausangate Mountain is one of the highest mountains in Peru that rises 6,384 meters high /20,944 feet. For a long time, it has been known in different ways, being the most frequent: “The Roof of the Inca Capital” and “Vinicunca,” which means “Cerro de Colores.”
This tourist site does locate in the Cusqueño district of Pitumarca (in the Canchis region of Cusco in the south of Peru). This mountain of the Ausangate is considered an essential mountain for the Andean cosmovision. And although it is also one of the most beautiful is also the least known abroad, always overshadowed by that impressive ‘Wonder of the World’ called Machu Picchu.
A hike through this tourist site is an extraordinary experience, combining being at such a high level with enjoying the outdoor activity and the contemplation of visual wonder.
At the request of the community of Pitumarca, the office of Cultural Landscape of the Decentralized Culture Cusco Department developed a study to obtain technical information about these Rainbow Mountains and offer them to tourists.
The report revealed that the colors of the mountains are due to the mineralogical composition it has: the pink color is for red clay, fangolites (mud), and arilites (sand). The whitish, by the sandstone quartz white. Browns, browns, and purples, for limonites and marls, are rich in calcium carbonate.
The red is composed of the arcilites (iron) and clays belonging to the upper tertiary. The green is due to the compound of filitas and clays rich in Magnesium iron. The earthy brown is a product of the rock-manganese mixture of the Quaternary age. And the mustard yellow color by calcareous sandstones rich in sulfide minerals.
Cusco’s rich oral tradition allows you to pick up this little legend that has been transmitted from generation to generation and tells the classic Inca story of the brothers who take distant roads:
“They say that Salkantay and Ausangate were brothers who lived in Cusco and, after a drought, ventured into strange lands to save their people. Salkantay went north and found Veronica’s jungle, forbidden love, and many problems; Ausangate went south to the high plateau and saw great production. From the highlands, he commanded potatoes, camel meat, and corn. Only in this way could the people of Cusco be saved. ”
The mountain of the Ausangate is the fifth highest mountain in Peru; it rises to an altitude of 6,372 meters /20,905 feet. It does locate about 100 kilometers southeast of the imperial city of Cusco. Starting from the town by vehicle, you will travel for three and a half hours; when you reach Llamachimpana, you will begin the Rainbow Mountain Trek full day for about 3 hours towards the mountain of colors (you walk about 4 km ½ approx.). Who can do it in a private car or by hiring a tour?
Enigmatic and hypnotic, it does currently inhabited by alpacas and communities of llamas. Numerous local farmers live in this mountain’s lowlands that form part of the Willkanuta, allowing them to take care of the hanging glaciers, eroded glacial valleys, and the pyromantic formations of bright colors that distinguish it from the others.
The road to Ausangate Mountain is one of the most impressive experiences you will enjoy, besides appreciating a beautiful landscape. You can also appreciate the birds and native animals all the way. You can find yourself receiving the protection and wisdom of what was once sacred to our culture.