La Rainbow Mountain deserta

La più famosa montagna colorata del mondo è ora deserta. Non più folle di turisti o venditori ambulanti ma il solo epico, spettacolare paesaggio andino e questa vetta che assomiglia ad un arcobaleno

Rainbow Mountain – Luca Oliveri

La Rainbow Mountain tra Quispicanchi e Canchis

Contrasti tra le popolazioni locali sul diritto di accesso ai sentieri che conducono alla famosa Rainbow Mountain in Perù, tra la provincia di Quispicanchi e Canchis, hanno reso la montagna stranamente deserta.

Il monte Vinicunca

Il monte Vinicunca, o più comunemente Rainbow Mountain, è la più famosa montagna colorata del mondo tanto da essere stata, negli ultimi anni, letteralmente presa d’assalto dai turisti.

Situata tra le Ande peruviane, alla vertiginosa altezza di più di 5000 metri sul livello del mare, è tra le attrazioni più famose del Perù, seconda solo a Machu Picchu.

Come un arcobaleno di colori

L’aspetto simile ad un arcobaleno è dovuto al sedimento di vari minerali che sotto i raggi del sole colorano il terreno in strisce d’oro, di lavanda, turchesi e di varie altre sfumature.

La recente scoperta della Rainbow Mountain

Benché la sua esistenza fosse da sempre conosciuta ai locali che la considerano sacra, è solo recentemente che è stata scoperta e resa nota al mondo poiché, a causa dello scioglimento della neve sulla sua cima, si è rivelata in tutti i suoi colori ed inserita, così, dal National Geographic tra “i 100 luoghi da visitare almeno una volta nella vita”.

Così, i turisti che ogni giorno visitavano la Rainbow Mountain divennero quasi un migliaio.

E se lo scenario era epico per la bellezza e particolarità del luogo, allo stesso modo la quantità di turisti, di venditori locali che con Alpaca ammaestrati, bancarelle piene zeppe di ponchi e ogni tipo di souvenir, l’avevano trasformata in un colorato bazar a cielo aperto.

Ecco come si presentava il sentiero di accesso alla Rainbow Mountain fino a poco tempo fa

Le faide tra le comunità locali hanno chiuso l’accesso al monte arcobaleno

In qualche modo la natura però fa il suo corso e da qualche settimana, a causa di una faida sul diritto di accesso alla cima tra le due comunità locali che abitano la zona, il sentiero che conduce alla vetta è stato chiuso dal governatore locale, almeno finché le due comunità non risolveranno i dissidi. E la Rainbow Mountain è tornata ad essere un solitario, bellissimo, spettacolo naturale senza più folle di turisti o venditori ambulanti.

È oggi possibile visitarla solo arrivando da un faticoso ed estremo trekking di più giorni che impegna lo spirito e mette a dura prova il corpo per le condizioni estreme a cui si è sottoposti ma il premio che si vince alla fine del percorso di circa 40km, dopo aver sfidato le rigide temperature notturne in tenda, è il poter godere di tanto spettacolo da soli. E la pace e il senso di contemplazione che si vive lassù fanno capire il perché i locali da secoli considerino quella cima, la montagna Vinicunca, sacra.

Ecco come si presenta oggi la Rainbow Mountain: deserta – Luca Oliveri

Armenian’s road trip on a Lada Niva 4×4

Armenia is a fascinating and culturally rich country. Outside the classic itineraries proposed by tour operators there are splendid places of indescribable beauty. I traveled on a 4×4 Lada Niva which allowed me to reach all the stops that I had set for myself.

Luca Oliveri on Mount Khustup – Armenia

Lada Niva Legend

LADA 4х4 is a legendary vehicle which live with strong emotions. It stormed the North Pole and Everest, participated in rally Paris-Dakar, domesticated the Antarctic. It is known and loved by everyone who drive it. Its vocation is off-road conditions,and Armenia is its perfect landscape setting to enhance its nature.

In Armenia they say “You have a Lada Niva, you can go anywhere!”

It’s certainly original to undertake a journey through the Armenian roads, as a tourist, deciding to drive this type of car which, especially if engaged in the chaotic city traffic of the capital Yerevan, certainly does not turn out to be the most comfortable car: no air conditioning, no power steering, manual gearbox not even that simple to insert, spartan seats and instruments. All this, however, is amply rewarded by its indescribable off-road performance, its strongness and the feeling to be able to go everywhere.

To understand what it means to travel through Armenia on a Lada Niva imagine this: an extremely bumpy steep mountain road, with holes, stones, cobbles, slopes and the Niva that climbs that path without showing fatigue. In Armenia they say “You have a Lada Niva, you can go anywhere!”

Lada Niva

My Armenian 4 wheel drive trip

The flights to Yerevan from Europe arrive very early in the morning. We landed and, after completing the formalities and collecting the car, we headed towards the city center where we had booked the hotel. Although it was now almost 3 in the morning it was hot and the Lada Niva snorted heat from the engine that invaded the cabin.

The traffic in Yerevan is, at times, exhausting and the heat in the central hours of the day, in August, becomes unbearable. Cars overtake from every direction, intrude on your lane without warning, don’t care in the least about your presence. The chaotic concrete jungle, with the imposing constructions that recall the once dominant Russian architecture, slowly gives way to the suburbs and to much less busy, but also quite bumpy, streets and in some places unpaved roads. We have to get used to it, this is the road system in Armenia. You find yourself stuck in traffic and to travel 1 km it takes up to half an hour and, shortly after, you are arguing with the holes and stones in a peripheral road bouncing on the seat continuously.

Yerevan is definitely the perfect base for visiting the northern part of Armenia and its most popular and touristic attractions. We stayed there 5 nights, allowing ourselves the luxury of the splendid Alexander Hotel which is part of the renowned Luxury Hotels of the World chain.

Khor Virap monastery and the Ararat Mountain

Khor Virap is easily reached in 1 hour drive from Yerevan and it’s the Armenia’s most sacred monastery and with the breathtaking Mount Ararat backdrop is the most spiritual place in the country. You can only imagine my excitement when I rounded the corner and, then, this energetic landscape finally came into focus cuddled by the sunset light.

The Azat Reservoir

I suggest you to spend some time at the Azat Reservoir, a fantastic place where the unique and surreal formations of the mountains and hills are reflected in the water with pastel shades. There
you will live the beauty of being outdoors enjoying every moment of the day until the last when the light of the day, gently, gives way to the low darkness of the night, illuminated by the rising moon and, then, the mirror of the lake becomes more like alabaster.

Azat Reservoir

The Azhdahak Mountain

After visiting the canyon of Garni, its Greco-Roman temple and the nearby monastery of Geghard, if you are intrepid enough, the Gegham mountains region offers scenery of indescribable beauty. The Azhdahak mountain, the “dragon’s volcano”, is the symbol of the region. You can go on a multi-day trek or you can reach it in a day trip from Yerevan driving along the first part of the path with a Jeep or, as in our case, with the Lada Niva. The road that leads to the base of the Azhdahak volcano is really impervious and quite difficult and dangerous to travel, therefore recommended only for an experienced off-road driver. From there the climb to the summit of the volcano is 5 km one way, with 600 meters of gain and will take about 1h and half. From the summit the landscape is unbelivable.

Going to the South – The Mount Khustup

We have planned to climb Mount Khustup which lies to the south on the border with Nagorno Karabakh. To get there, from Yerevan, it takes at least 6 hours because, the route is mostly an ups and downs in the mountains. We arrived at 9 pm in Kapan, the city that stay at the base of the mountain. On the road we had a stop at the Tatev monastery, a must to see along the way. There, we took some photos at sunset before continuing to Kapan. To climb the Mount Khustup you need to plan at least 2 days because the trek is quite long, almost 30 kilometers with a gain of 2200 meters. We slept in a tent halfway under a sky full of stars in Navcha Base Camp and then set off for the summit the following morning at 4. Mount Khustup is a pilgrimage site and is considered sacred. If the day is clear, at the top, you can see 5 states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Nagorno Karabakh and Turkey

Vang Vieng – The best hiking trails

Vang Vieng is a little town in the middle of nowhere in Laos, once a crazy town dominated by wild backpackers, now an eco-adventure destination, attracting the usual backpackers and adventurers and thrill-seekers alike.

This place has never been more attractive than now, with boutique hotels and high-end restaurants replacing some of the party-laden backpacker bars that used to pack the waterfront. It’s now a calm oasis for enjoying nature, jungle hikes, and lazy days cooling off in the river.

Luca Oliveri in the Nam Xay Viewpoint

How to get to Vang Vieng

The best way to get here is to fly into Vientiane, where you can buy a bus ticket at any travel agency or guesthouses and they will pick you up at the place you are staying at a specified time. It will take you around 4 – 6 hrs to get to Vang Vieng, depending on the road condition.

The trip is challenging, the road condition is usually bad with so many holes and I’m pretty sure you will end the journey with a bothersome back pain.

But it’s worth it!

How to Get Around Vang Vieng

The best way to get around in Vang Vieng and have the opportunity to explore the city center and the majestic landscape beauties of the area is to rent a motorbike. Comfortable, easy to drive, economical: it will take you anywhere.

Luca Oliveri walking around Vang Vieng

Where to sleep in Vang Vieng

I absolutely suggest you to stay at Villa Tara in Vang Vieng. This place is stunning. Set among rice fields and overlooking the Nam Song River, your villa will have views of the rice fields and the river. This place is famous for its rice fields and the walkway photographed in many ways that run through them. The idyllic picture is completed by mountains and a blue sky in pastel shades.

The villas are rustic, so don’t expect 5 stars luxury. The restaurant has traditional but straightforward receipts. The staff is welcoming. The atmosphere is sublime, the sunrise and the sunsets are something extraordinary and living those moments from the patio of your villa in the mid of the rice fields is something special you will remember for a long time.

Luca Oliveri at Villa Tara – Vang Vieng

Best hiking trails

You can walk in the rice fields and enjoy nature, you can go in the country for a bike tour and you will be surrounded by those cliffs and palms and reach the natural pools. And these are the best ways for chilling and enjoy nature during a calm day if you want just to relax. But…

Hiking in Vang Vieng is impressive, as the surrounding scenery is absolutely breathtaking. I love hiking, being outside all day to enjoy nature beats.

For example, both the Pha Ngern Viewpoint and the Nam Xay Viewpoint are hikes that offer fantastic vistas at the top. But you have to work hard for that reward; both trails are incredibly steep and the hikes are challenging and made even more complex by the heat in the middle of the day.

Pha Ngern Viewpoint 

This is not an easy hike, but you can definitely manage it with good shoes, and most of the time, there are wooden handrails to help you climb up. The view from the top is great.

If you are unfit or a little worried about rock climbing or not suitable for steep hikes, then this is not for you.

It is pretty well maintained with ropes, handrails and “stairs” until the first viewpoint and a little less to the second and higher one. Ther is small “shop” at the first viewpoint where you can buy something to drink and sit on the wooden bench.

The whole route took me about 4 hours with some rest and descent.

Nam Xay Viewpoint 

It’s the best spot for one of Laos’s most breathtaking views. You will get unbeatable views of jagged limestone cliffs, lush forests, and rice fields from the top.

Up there peace and quiet are almost guaranteed because you won’t find lots of people. This hike is famous most of all for its amazing photo opportunity with a motorbike, which was mysteriously placed there by the locals.

The best time to visit Pha Ngern Viewpointand Nam Xay Viewpoint is an hour or two before sunset. The heat isn’t as intense anymore and you will see beautiful colors from the top.

Make sure you don’t stay after the sun goes down though the hike down is scarier and more dangerous in the dark.

The whole route took me about 3 hours with enough time to take pictures with the motorbike and a drone video.

Pha Poak climb and Lusi cave

This is more a climb than a hike and is not for the faint-hearted. It’s more an adventure with a good reward on the top.

It is a dangerous climb with old ladders and sharp rocks to climb onto most of the way up.


If you plan on visiting, please be careful. There is no path and it is very easy to fall at any point if you’re not confident in climbing up or down steep rocks. And make sure you stick to the path, not that there really is one.

While a little challenging, the views from the top are definitely worthwhile, with a 360° degrees view of the surrounding, feeling to be so small in the middle of those fantastic limestone cliffs.

Pha Poak climb