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Members of the LAFF team visited the Rainbow Mountain this Sunday. An amazing natural wonder, but we have concerns for its future.

We arrived at the huge car park at 9 am, odd-psyche up chants as the people around us prepared themselves for the grueling 2-hour walk at high altitude. Surrounded by over 20 buses we knew we would be sharing our experience with many other people and that Instagram moment would be nigh impossible to obtain.

However hard it was to take a photo by ourselves it did in no way ruin the amazing spectacle being surrounded, not only by the wonderfully colourful mountain, but also in the wake of Ausangate- the highest peak in the Cusco region.

It was a fantastic trip to see one of Peru’s most astounding physical wonders but we could not stop thinking about the effect that the amount of tourists, such as ourselves, are having on the location.

The mountain has only been a tourist attraction since 2015 after ‘being discovered’ due to lack of snow because of global warming and since then has received up to 1000 tourists a day.

This has been fantastic for the local economy with many locals moving back to the area as new jobs have been created because of the influx of tourists. With a profit of 10,000/s a day just on the entrance fee, the area is proving to be very lucrative for the locals.

But tourism is a double-edged sword and the fantastic boost to the economy has brought issues to the natural landscape, issues that will continue to grow if the tourism is left unchecked. Degradation and erosion to the paths, littering and pollution and the changing of the landscape into car parks to accommodate the growing number of buses and tourists are a few of the problems caused.

The lack of infrastructure in the area is also cause for concern. Improper sewage disposal into local rivers causes more pollution problems for the Cusco area and lack of proper access to medical services could be a major issue for tourists struggling at high altitude.

Over the past 20 years we have seen countless historic and natural wonders be swallowed up by the ever-growing number of tourists. Local communities and governments jump on the chance to promote these areas because of the economic benefits but as they are often not environmental conservation experts, the environmental concerns often come much later down the line and are sometimes too late.

As travellers it is our responsibility to leave as little a footprint as possible on the places we visit. We would always recommend looking into the most environmentally friendly ways of visiting tourist locations and whilst you are there, showing the utmost respect for the area and the local community.