Rainbow Mountain Peru: Otherworldly Mountain Finally Reveals Its Secrets

Rainbow Mountain Peru is a wonderful mountain within the Vilcanota mountain range in the southern Andean region of Peru. The mountain is locally known as Vinicunca and it is famous for displaying a colorful rainbow like pattern, hence the name. Rainbow Mountain Peru was recently discovered and it went viral thanks to Instagram and Facebook, but many people were in disbelief and skeptical about it. It is simply an otherworldly landscape that seems straight out of a fairy tale. However, the place is real although very rare. If you too are curious about how Rainbow Mountain Peru was formed, then this article is for you. Keep on reading to find out the origins and “secret formula” that makes this place extraordinary.

People walking towards Rainbow Mountain Peru viewpoint

How are mountains formed?

Mountains around the world are formed as a result of the convergence of tectonic plates, erosion, volcanic activity and other geological factors. However, one thing that all mountains have in common is that it takes millions of years for their formation. Over time, erosion from elements such as wind, rain, rivers, ice, etc. causes their surfaces to be younger than the rocks which initially formed them.

Many mountains are mineral rich due to a complex geological mixture of marine, lake and river sediments. Their stories began several million years ago. At that point in time, alterations on the earth’s crust caused the movement of tectonic plates which generated ravines between layers of ancient soils. The ravines exposed a tremendous wealth of mineral rock sediments such as sandstones, halites, gravel, and limestones that range from ocher, green, mustard yellow and white among others.

What makes Rainbow Mountain Peru different?

In the case of Rainbow Mountain, the minerals from such ancient soils were eroded and transported by the masses of waters that covered the area during the tertiary and quaternary periods. Over time, the minerals piled up over one another forming layers of different colors arranged according to the weight of each mineral.  Further tectonic movements of continental proportions elevated such layered sediments, which will later become the top of Vinicunca mountain range. The oxidation of the minerals gave rise to the bright colors we see today. However, this spectacular rainbow on earth was later buried under the snow covering the surface of the entire Vilcanota mountain range as a result of the climatic conditions at that time.

panoramic view of Rainbow Mountain Peru

What minerals produce such bright colors?

Nowadays, the rise in average temperatures in the Andean region has caused the snow on Rainbow Mountain Peru to melt away exposing these sediments once again. Studies done on samples taken from the site indicate that the colors exhibited are due to the following mineral composition:

People walking up to rainbow mountain peru

Without a doubt, this colorful display is a spectacle of nature that literally transports us back in time through millions of years of earth’s history.  Moreover, it is one of the most breathtaking and unusual geological features in the world. Rainbow Mountain Peru is yet another example of the lovely natural beauty that can be found in Peru. You have to see this place for yourself! Check out our pages for info on how to get there, safety advice, best tour operators, what to bring and much more!