Where are we?

Rainbow Mountain - I frigging did it!!!

I can’t believe that I actually hiked to 16,000’ and didn’t have a heart attack!! It was tough going but got it done! That should take care of hiking for awhile 😂

We started out the day with sun, Dwayne found temp on accuweather and it's +4C.  But by the time we got to the parking area at Rainbow Mountain to start the hike it clouded over, at least it's not raining. We arrived around 11:30,  a 2 hr drive from where we camped last night which is already about an hour drive from Cusco.  Most of the road is narrow and windy especially once we get off the “main” gravel highway onto a newly constructed gravel road that gets tourists closer to the top. The new road has been here for 2 years now and is really showing signs of needing repair! Plus most of it's one lane! We're getting pretty use to that since arriving in Peru! This new road gets tourists within a 2km walk to Rainbow Mountain, the other original road has a 6km hike to the summit - and is still used by hardy trekkers! 

The route to Rainbow Mtn takes us through lots of small villages 

Road block!

They may be off the grid but they still have solar 
Odd looking rocks as we go through a canyon

Love how animals over 100's of years make these path lines on the mountains

Deep canyon, can just see the river at the bottom

Starting to climb up

roads get narrow in areas

A red tinted creek flows into the river

Soon getting off this "main" highway to get onto the new road
Yup this is the new road :) 
Had to stop and take a picture of these pretty flowers that are all over the slops

Also lots of alpacas along the road

Awwww so cute

The road we came up
Creek crossing

Rainbow Mountain/Cerro de Siete Colores/Vinincunca Mt (it has many names) only appeared in 2015 once the glacier melted away and left these cool looking strips of mountain rock in different shades. More and more people are hearing about it and making it part of their Peru trips. Like us,  I never heard about it until we got closer to Ollantaytambo.

Once at the top parking lot we get our heavier clothes on because it is going to be cold and windy at the top. The parking lot is at 15,000'. I get my hiking poles out to help me get to the top! As we start walking the incline is not bad at first but I’m already having a hard time breathing and taking lots of breaks. Dwayne has no problems. There are horses for hire that can take you to almost the top but that defeats the purpose of the hike! The locals actually walk the horse up with a rope while you sit in the blanket saddle😊  These people are amazing!! Both men and women guide these horses up at quite the speed. There is NO WAY I could ever keep up with and I doubt Dwayne could. Guess if you’re born and raised here you get use to the thin air - they all seem to be in good health, guess it comes from walking everywhere they go unless it’s to the city then they take a bus. But the women are always walking along the road with a huge load on their backs. 

At the parking lot - the 2 red arrows show where Dwayne hiked to and the lower one where I got to. You can see people walking up the path

Not sure how far we got but looking back at Vanna she looked pretty small in the parking lot and I thought no way I’m going to get to the top, still seemed so far to go. So I give the camera to Dwayne and tell him to hoofer’ up there and take some pictures, didn't want to slow him down.  I’ll see how far I can get.  So with a kiss, off he goes and I plug along, taking many breaks to get my breath and slow my heart down. Because SHOULD something happen to me and I need to go to the hospital, travel insurance will not cover medical costs because I was hiking above 2500m. Guess very few travel insurances cover you once you are over the 3000m mark. Anyways……. as it turns out there is another hut higher up that you have to pay another S/10 to finish the climb to the summit (we already paid S/10 each at the entrance to the new road) but I figure if I get there I’ll tell the guy I’ll pay on the way back since I have no money on me!  So I finally get to the hut and the guy is busy talking to someone and I see a couple of people walk thru without paying so just followed them. Didn’t get caught 😉 Now this is the hardest part of the climb because it's pretty steep, but I don’t want to take the zigzag path because it will take longer - just want to get to the top!! So straight up I go, there are some steps carved into the mountain so that helps. But I have to stop about every 4 steps to catch my breath - I love a challenge!! I finally get to the top and find a rock to sit on and rest.  YES I DID IT!!!!!! I thought for sure the sun would come out once I got to the top, but it didn’t 😪 

I sit for probably 5 minutes before I keep climbing higher to where I can see Dwayne. Luckily he comes down faster than I go up and we meet. I’m not at the summit but that’s fine, Dwayne got up there and took pictures :)  Guess it took Dwayne maybe an hour total to get to the summit (2.5km from the van) and I took an hour and 10 mins to get to the lower summit (2kms) Looking around the colors look great but with sunglasses on they are not as bright as I later see in the pictures we took! The glaciers are beautiful to but a long ways away and partially covered with clouds.  

At the lower summit there are probably 3 local families that are cooking something in their big pots on propane burners, plus they have pop, beer, chocolate bars, chips for sale. Now I know why I saw empty beer bottles tossed in a hole on the way up! Wondering who would be drinking beer going up?? 

We only get to stay up for a while longer because it’s starting to cloud over and we don’t want to walk down in rain/snow. Also very windy and cold up here. I read in one blog that the longest a person should stay at the upper summit is 10 mins because the air is so thin. Some tour companies actually carry oxygen in their tour buses incase one of their clients needs it.

As we start to head down it continues to stay windy but doesn’t rain. We do get a little snow falling - looks like little styrofoam balls.  We get back to Vanna in 45 minutes :)  Once in the van we have a sandwich and then head down since staying up here for the night is going to be way to cold. And it’s not like I’m going to get up early and reach that summit again in the morning!! LOL!!!!  

Yup taking another rest - Dwayne zoomed in for this pic
Arrow shows where I'm really at - not at the hut yet

Dwayne's pictures from the summit

Rainbow Mountain

Huge glacier long ways away

path to the summit

picture time with the alpaca 

Yup made it to the top!!!


On our way down - these are the horses that can be hired
Looking back where we came from!
This must be the tiniest flower there is!! Growing at 16,000'

Along with this pretty purple one!

Pathway back to the parking lot crosses a few creeks
going down!

In the middle you can see where the road crosses over the creek
Cool rock formation in the creek 

Interesting little walking bridge over the river - see the twisted trees underneath?

We find a nice grassy area in the eucalyptus trees close to the river for the night, now down to 12,500' so won't be really cold. Probably about 10 kms from the little village we stayed at last night. Tomorrow we head to Puno to see the Uru indigenous people on their floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca before leaving Peru. 


  1. The Rainbow mountain pictures are beautiful. Glad you made it to the top. Worth all the hard work. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It was tough but great once I got up there :) Glad you are enjoying the blog :)

  2. That Rainbow mountain sure is pretty. Quite unique looking. The people are pretty ingenious how they made that walking bridge with the twisted tree trunks.

    1. I was really surprised how pretty the mountain looked in real life, we really enjoyed it.

  3. Great pictures today and congratulations on getting up to 16,000ft, I know what that involves!

    What beautiful scenery in that area, we would definitely be in our element there. I have Rainbow Mountain on my must do list for when we make it back to Peru and to that area. So glad that you guys had a great day even if it was overcast.

  4. Thanks! Probably was better that it was a little overcast to make the walking a little cooler - but it would have been nice to see the sun shining on those mountains :)