Heavy Breathing on Rainbow Mountain

I’m finally catching up on posts that happened during Remote Year because I’m all about documentation and don’t want to forget. Plus, my Remote Year is over and I never wanna forget it and I’m a on train to Rome right now for five hours, so why not reminisce a bit?

Post Machu Pichu trek (which you can read about HERE), I stayed in Cuzco one night alone after Amy and Kelli decided to go back. Ok, not DECIDED, but had to, because they have jobs and boyfriends and shit. I ended up with ALL my RY stuff (read: giant suitcase and Osprey backpack) and had to stay in a hostel alone for one night before I met up with the other group who I’d be climbing Rainbow Mountain with. WHY did I decide to climb the hardest mountain EVER right after hiking 50+ miles? IDK, F ME! However, it was the ony time that I’d probably be there and I knew I had to fit it in. (Read: peer pressure and insta photo FOMO.) Little did I know that my photos would be pretty lame because weather happens and snow is weather and snow is also white and covers up rainbows pretty well, so it seems. More on that later.


  • ended up booking a last minute hostel (nothing is ever planned in advance, you should know this by now) the day I arrived back to Cuzco.

  • ate lunch at this really good Asian fusion place (we were SO sick of Peruvian food by now) and then looked for this ice cream place which Foursquare told us was “number one for dessert” in Cuzco, only to discover that it no longer existed. No delicious reward for us! Hmph.

  • said bye to Kelli and Amy and made my way to the hostel I had just booked. Or rather, didn’t book - I got there and showed them my reservation, only to realize that it was for the next night - and there were no available rooms. Ugh. That never happens. The hostel looked awesome but they didn’t have a single bed, so they offered their wifi password and recommeded some other places…

  • hopped on my laptop, cancelled the booking, and found another one right around the corner. However, this was after I had already checked in my big luggage with the hostel so that they could hold it for that one night...and I wasn’t about to lug it with me to my new hostel - so I left it. No big. (Luckily).

  • walked to the other hostel and it ended up actually being really nice. I met a nice gal from Colombia who was celebrating her birthday by going on a solo trip to Peru and hiking some other crazy trail. Part of me wanted to explore the city a bit more than I had and go out to dinner or something (it was Saturday night) but the other, sane part of me wanted to do abso-freakin’-lutely nothing.

  • Did the latter. Duh. My body hated me from putting it through the whole hiking thing. Plus, that night ended up being some sort of BBQ down in the courtyard, so I signed up, had some BBQ and beer, met this other group of fun travelers, and went to bed at like, 10 PM. (They had to be up to hike Rainbow Mountain the next morning at 4 AM, so it was easy to just follow their lead to the sleep train.)

  • Got woken up, of course. Hostels are always a “who’s gonna wake me up at 3 AM when they come home?” and it was, indeed, two German guys who had apparently been partying hard since they got there (re: Colombian gal). Whatevs. I woke up around 8, thought about taking a shower (but didn’t because I despise showering in hostels and also v lazy) and headed out to get some work done at this coffee shop.

  • grabbed my bag from the other hostel and had to pretend that I totally stayed there. It worked.

  • Met up with my RY frands whose AirBnB I was staying in. Thank gawd.

  • Grabbed beers at this awesome beer bar and then dinner at some place obvi not memorable because I don’t remember it. Booked a massage. Went to bed.

  • Got that amazing massage. YAS. So well-deserved!

  • Explored the city a bit. Cusco is freakin' beautiful, y'all. Here, just look and see for yourself (hashbrown no filter):

  • Worked from the lobby of a the super nice hotel two days in a row because it was the only place that had really good wifi. I ordered coffee and drinks and stuff, but yes, total moocher. That’s what happens when there’s no coworking space! *shrug*
  • Had one of THE BEST breakfasts of my LIFE. (Not to be confused with brunch). You must go to Jack's Cafe and order this plate. It’s the one with all of the things. And it’s affordable. GO GORGE YOURSELF, PEOPLE!!! (find them HERE)

  • Went BACK to this restaurant the next day because it was soooooo good. Got some soup. Also sooooo good. GET EVERYTHING ON THE MENU, PEOPLE!!!
  • Woke up at an ungodly hour of 3:30 AM to be in the square by 4 to catch our Oxygen bus. You guys, the bus streamed oxygen from the ceiling because no one can freakin’ breathe in the crazy altitude of Cuzco, yet alone Rainbow Mountain (a cool 17,000 ft nbd). Of course we passed some people still out partying from the night before as we wlaked in the total darkness to the center of town. Asked a dude for a sip of his beer. I was clearly super pumped about this next hike! *eyeroll emoji*
  • Got to the base of the mountain where it was FREEZING. Used a horrible toilet (oh, South America…) and ate “breakfast” an hour later after the guys who set up our tent and stuff were ready to “cook” for us. AKA heat up water for tea and give us some round breads with jam. Totally ready for this hike. Felt very confident that my body would TOTALLY not give up on me. *sarcasm much?*

  • *PoSiTiViTy* kicked in and I had to acknowledge how cute the alpacas and llamas were that surrounded us on all the mountains. Look at dat butt!
  • Decided to actually hike the mountain instead of renting a horse because 1) I had too much pride and self-confidence after Machu Pichu and 2) I hate horses. Great decisions ahead...but off we went.


  • Only a few of us hiked and damnit, it was hard. Not only was the hike itself difficult, but it was freezing, raining, sleeting, hailing, and finally, SNOWING, on it. The weather was not ideal. Also, oh yeah, THE ALTITUDE IS INSANE. It’s like being in a plane with no oxygen (well, at least I think it is. I’d assume so? I’ve never done that soooo…) Check out how excited we were mid-point:
"Show me how you feel about this hike rn fam"

"Show me how you feel about this hike rn fam"

  • In between heaving, wanting to pass out, feeling like I’d never breathe again, and trying to accomplish #hikinggoals, we finally made it to the final summit - up a small mountain that was super slippery, covered in snow and all around not very welcoming. People were falling all over the place (me included) and generally, it was a v hard time. HOWEVER, we DID it and A GUY WAS SELLING BEER AT THE TOP. Honestly, I could hardly drink the beer. Thinking about burping less breath in my lungs and more gas, which, ugh, no thanks. The cold also didn’t help and my H&M gloves weren’t exactly warm. Defintely had frozen extremities, but we did get some pretty badass photos:
  • Forgot that we had to hike all the way back down. WHYYYYY hasn’t my business idea of ziplines down hiking mountains happened yet? I need to figure this out. It wasn’t as bad as going up though, which was better than nothin’.
  • Got back to the camp where our people were preparing lunch to us and it was freakin’ delicious. No pics because I was so hungry I didn't have the energy to take my phone out.
  • Got back in the bus and sucked the oxygen tanks dry. Did they actually help? I think so...but I’m sure half of it was mental as well. *deep breathes the little oxygen that currently surrounds me in this claustrophobic train*

  • Got back and rewarded ourselves with the best ice cream EVER at this little place in town that happened to be SO close to where we were staying. This is it. Plan to go more than once if you’re in Cuzco. I will remember that white chocolate peanut butter deliciousness for a long time. It's called Quacharitas (which means "little spoons" in Spanish which, frankly, gives me the cutest visual of tiny spoons in my head) and you can find them HERE
Spoons are just little bowls with sticks, guys. 

Spoons are just little bowls with sticks, guys. 

  • Had to pump ourselves up to leave the next day because, oh yeah, WE WERE GOING ON A FOUR-NIGHT TRIP TO BOLIVIA.

Looking back at this now, I can NOT believe how crazy May was and how many things we all packed into the short month that we were there. Also, I’m writing this a few months in the future, which is very weird to have to think about all the details that I typically cover in these posts. I vowed to catch up though, and I WILL, DAMNIT.

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Coming up: Bolivia! A billion salt flats photos, taking over a salt prison, and becoming a flamingo.

Professional writer, designer, and do-it-aller. Remote Year citizen/alum. Currently living in San Francisco and probably trying to avoid the terrifying amounts of pigeons.