Rainbow Mountain

While the Rainbow Mountain in Peru doesn’t compare to the Danxia Landform Geological Park in China they are still stunning. At 17,060 feet I think this was the highest place we went to…and we hiked almost an hour from the parking lot to get there! Slow but steady, no problems, thankfully.

Some people get up in the middle of the night and ride to the base of the mountain and hike up it. We chose to ride to the nearest parking area to the mountain which is about 3 hours from Cusco. As we rode to the park, we passed a roadside stand that the bus stopped at and a few people bought snacks.

The colors come from goethite or oxidized limonite (a brownish coloration), the bright yellow color may be due to iron sulphide, and  chlorite or copper make the green color.

Some people had gathered rocks and made a couple of carens to celebrate their getting to the mountain or perhaps for more spiritual reasons.

It is windy and cold that high (and rain threatened not far away) but the indigenous man and woman we saw wore sandals with no socks. When I asked the man about it, he said he didn’t have the time or money to go to town to get better shoes and socks.

The woman who ran the rest room by the parking lot (complete with water!), told me she had on 6 or 7 layers of clothes, including 3 skirts, a slip, and leggings. The skirt was a heavier, coarser material than I had expected. I won’t say she was warm but she didn’t seem unduly uncomfortable.A few people chose to go to the nearby higher formation but Dan and I passed on that. Not a lot higher but maybe another 100 feet or so.



El Panecillo hill, 9895 feet altitude, topped with a statue of the Virgin Mary. Houses on the hill are shacks.

Quito is the capital of Ecuador and a city of over 2,00,000 people and at 9350 feet altitude, the second highest capital city in the world (La Paz Bolivia is much higher). I could tell we were in a big city when on the first day I heard a long, loud car horn honk in complaint. Not like the short warning taps or thank you taps that we usually hear. I never heard another long honk but it definitely has a big city feel.

The weather is slightly cool and rain is common.

Quito is working on a subway but in the meantime they have a very good bus system. There was a stop ½ block from our apartment that went into downtown/old town. Some of the bus routes (like this one) have bus stations that are about 3’ off the ground and the bus has a small ramp that goes down when the door is opened so people can get on/off and it is wheelchair accessible. Other buses are the typical ones that may be a climb to get into or out of.

Buses are used extensively. We often entered extremely crowded buses. One time I didn’t think Dan would make it on it was so crowded. Standing room only although the riders will often give up their seat to someone with a baby or who is older. I welcomed it the several times a nice person gave me their seat.

Our guide said that people can’t wait to get cars so they don’t have to ride the bus. I didn’t like the crowds but I liked the price ($0.12 for seniors) and I like having a smaller carbon footprint than a car gives. Plus parking is limited and not cheap…our guide paid $0.75 per hour which wasn’t too bad except it added up to $3.00 by the time we got the car back.

Traffic in Quito wasn’t too bad. Heavy at times but it kept moving.

Two car bus
3 car bus

We were usually on a 2 car bus (connected in the middle by an accordion type connection) but they also had 3 car buses. I was amazed watching the 3 car bus turn a corner with no problem.

Black Panther was released while we were inQuito. We were going to see the English version with Spanish subtitles but there were only about a half dozen seats left and they were in the front row so we passed. Never got around to it after that. My guess is that all theaters had costumed actors to promote it but I could be wrong. Fun to see them anyway.


  1. Depending on who you talk with, the former president Rafael Correa was great or horrible. In any case, as I understand it, he improved some roads and promoted tourism in select depressed areas such as Salinas (the one near Ibarra, not the beach Salinas).

This town was established in the early 1600’s and was home primarily to Afro-Ecuadorians. Apparently it was very depressed but there was a train track that ran to it from Ibarra, less than 18 miles away. I’m not sure how good the track was and what the town was like then.

Now there are several new buildings including an area by the train track where a number of young women perform native dances balancing a wine bottle with a little fluid (probably water) on their head. There is a fresh area where native crafts are sold, an area where you can buy chocolate or pina colada (we bought both), an interesting area explaining the production of salt, and a dining room.

For less than $50 per person (even less for us seniors), we had the round trip from Ibarra, the performance, the tours, and lunch. The track goes through 7 tunnels that were all hand carved. The area becomes drier as you approach Salinas, an area famous for the production of salt.

On the way, we stopped at one tiny depot that sold hand made ice cream. I had something fruity, I think it was passion fruit, and the other scoop was avocado. The avocado taste was very mild, not my favorite but ok.

How the salt was made was very interesting. Starting with putting dirt in a raised area and adding water, letting evaporation occur, eventually getting salt with lots of minerals, especially iodine which was so prevalent that it was removed (look at your salt container, iodine is added to most salt today, albeit in smaller amounts). The finished product tastes like salt that is a milder amount of saltiness. Long ago, salt was used as a type of currency.

This train is quite different from the Durango Silverton train. Instead of just getting off in Silverton and wandering around shops and eating, I enjoyed that there were planned activities (dancing, tour, food). Also, train crossings were secured not just by railroad arms. There were a number of people on motorcycles that raced from crossing to crossing to make sure that no cars passed when the train was approaching. Given that this was only days after the train wreck with the Senators in the USA, it didn’t seem so much like overkill as it might have. nn

The day was quite enjoyable and worth every penny. I even joined in the dancing as you can see in gallery below.

Weather Shift

The trade winds off the Caribbean are pushing these clouds over the continental divide toward me. They are usually moving pretty fast and disappear quickly as the humid air is absorbed by the dry Pacific air. The rain we get is mostly mist and when we are close to the divide, we can see the rain moving over us, putting us into a rain shadow. This rain is what makes the rain forest here special.

On Sunday I noticed that clouds were moving in the opposite direction, off the Pacific.

In the picture above, you can see the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Now with the wind shift, the sun is out more and temperatures have risen.

We were spoiled with the cooler days, although most of the days are still very nice.