The Rainbow Mountain of Peru: Popular and Imperiled


According to Mr. Farfan, a severe impact on the environment is already evident. A swamp that had been a refuge for migrating ducks was turned into a huge parking lot for tourist vans. A 2.5-mile trail has been severely eroded by hikers.

And a Canadian mining company, Camino Minerals Corp., has applied for mining rights in the area.

A local community leader, Gabino Huaman, questioned whether enough had been done to prepare the area for hosting and guiding the influx of tourists.

“We don’t know one word in English,” he was quoted as saying in The Associated Press, “or first aid.”

The high altitude and long distance of the trail can make for a challenging hike, and tourists usually need to acclimate their bodies before beginning the trek to the top of the fluorescent mountain.

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Tourists have flocked to Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountain, in Peru, but bad weather and trail conditions have led to less-than-ideal hikes.

Credit
Martin Mejia/Associated Press

To overcome altitude sickness, some people carry small oxygen tanks, while others resort to chewing coca leaves.

John Widmer, an American tourist who visited Vinicunca in April 2017, detailed a “not so colorful experience” in a blog post dripping with irritation.

“It was the bad weather combined with irresponsible guides, unprepared hikers and horrendous trail conditions that made this one of the worst treks we’ve ever been on,” Mr. Widmer wrote.

He lamented the environmental destruction occurring from the large numbers of tourists, adding that “the beautiful and fragile alpine environment is getting completely demolished” by the hordes of eager hikers who journey to the mountain.

“I’m ashamed at the fact that we, too, personally destroyed a bit of the Andes during our trek to Rainbow Mountain.”

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