Was rainbow mountain really made up of multiple colored rocks that were as bright as the pictures on the tourist shops’ walls?  As I approached 16,800 feet the summit grew closer and closer.  I would have my answer soon enough.


The clouds cleared for a brief few minutes to reveal the view I had been waiting all morning to see.

I had never seen a mountain like this before.  The red streaks I had seen on the way up only hinted at the rainbow streaks that covered the side of the  appropriately-named summit.  

Hiking in the Andes outside of Cusco to a 17,000 foot peak is cool enough.  When this peak is covered with rainbow colors of sedimentary rock and full of llamas on the way up and back, it is a treat to hike. 

The clouds were flying in and quickly hail started drilling me in the face.  

The other hikers started running down from the summit as the hail came down harder and harder. In the Andes at nearly 17,000 feet the weather can turn nasty in a matter of minutes.

I found a tiny rock circle and decided to sit it out for a few minutes to see if the hail and wind would pass…no deal.  

It was time to get off the summit, and fast.  Sandal-clad Ayamara men were getting some of the earlier hikers down through the storm.  I booked my way down until the hail and rain stopped.  Suddenly I came across a local indigenous family who were shearing their llamas.

The men of the family would wrestle a llama to the ground.  The llama would often put up a fight but then submit once he saw that it was a losing battle.  

The family didn’t seem to mind my presence, and I stayed for quite some time.  It isn’t everyday that you get to see a Peruvian Ayamara family shearing llamas at 15,000 feet in front of Rainbow Mountain.

Rainbow Mountain is a spectacular hike that is one of the best day hikes I have seen.  

This is not an easy hike, however there are local people offering horse rides for hikers needing a lift up the mountain.  The hike can be completed in one day from Cusco, the legendary Peruvian city which was once home to the great Incan Empire.

The hike takes you through beautiful green valleys surrounded by towering red peaks all while in the Shadow of the sacred 20,000 foot peak of  Ausangate.  

Although a big day-trip from Cusco, this hike is worth the effort.  Cusco, long famous for Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley has a new adventure that is growing in popularity and that should be included in your visit to Peru!