After recovering from our Machu Picchu trek and a big night out in Cusco we set off to Maras (about an hour’s drive from Cusco) to go quad biking! Feeling quite fragile, we were given a brief safety talk before hopping onto the bikes. It was a beautiful day and our group seemed very nice so we were really excited to get going. The fresh air definitely helped our hangovers!
The quad bikes had 5 gears so we could really pick up speed along the dusty roads, often passing pigs and donkeys. With our guide Floyd we made a couple stops – first at a large, pretty lake, and second up to an old inka hostel, which had snazzy clay ‘fridges’ that would have been used to keep meat cool.
We carried on driving surrounded by beautiful scenery of the Andes and were taken to see the salt mines. These were breathtaking! They are working mines and have been since before the inkas. The mines contain 3 types of salt…and of course we tried some salt & quinoa choccie from the shop!
Afterwards, we jumped back on the quad bikes in the dark (dodgy headlights trying their best to work) and made our way back towards the bus. It was quite scary but exhilarating…one guy got lost but we found him lol.
The next day was Rainbow Mountain. We were slightly dreading it as we’d heard from so many people that it was really tough with the altitude, plus we had to get up at 3am AGAIN! Nonetheless, we pulled ourselves out of bed and got collected by a minibus from our hostel at 3.45am (the company we went with was Inti Paradise, the same company we used for quad biking and we’d highly recommend them!).
A 3 hour drive later we had breakfast, it was freezing, we were apprehensive, and it was still so early! At this point we were wondering why we voluntarily chose to do this? But with full tummies we pressed on and got to the start of the trek at 8.30am.
We took the walk slowly, plodding along and breathing heavily in the altitude. It was actually a very manageable and consistent incline up towards the top (we actually found Lake Quilotoa harder). The whole way up there are locals tempting you with horses, which you can pay to take you up. But we stayed strong and resisted!
By the time we got to the summit, which sits at 5200m, it was 9.50am! We couldn’t believe we’d done it so quickly and actually enjoyed it! The whole experience wasn’t as bad as we thought, we’d totally psyched ourselves out beforehand.
The view from the top was absolutely worth it. The different colours in the mountain occur due to the various mineral deposits it contains. It is a completely unique geological formation, a technicolor dreamscape. We even saw some protected Vicuñas run across the mountain when we were taking pictures!
We were so chuffed we decided to do the trek. The walk back downhill was a bit tough on the knees but we got through it by pondering things such as ‘can you milk the teets of a llama?’
We recovered over lunch and were back in Cusco by 5pm. A great day all round!