Arequipa & Colca Canyon, Peru: 21st-24th November 2012
The Cruz Del Sur bus to Arequipa from Puno as Chris said was great- a bit of Breaking Dawn and Liam Neeson made the 5 hour bus journey fly by.
However arriving in an unfamiliar city at night is not the best. We jumped into a cab after a lady from our bus said they were a decent taxi company made it to the hostel and were led to the room by a lad who we’d woken up and who really just wanted to go back to sleep. We didn’t let him though, as our initial impressions of the room were destroyed when we found ants on the toilet seat and a cockroach scuttling round the bath. There were no other rooms available, so being as tired as we were, just slept in the room for the night, not feeling very welcomed to Arequipa.
By daylight the hostel seemed better, the breakfast was nice and we chatted to some others in the hostel, but when we ran the water for about 10 minutes and couldn’t get any hot water, we were back to drafting out our bad reviews of the hostel on hostelbookers.com.
Exploring the town of Arequipa that is famed for it’s pretty square and lovely buildings things were looking up. The Cathedral in the main square is beautiful and the private guided tour cheap and interesting. Lunch on a roof terrace also sweetened our moods until we had to wait 20 minutes to get back into the hostel, ringing the bell, shouting and banging on doors and windows while whoever was on duty slept through it all.
We popped back into town, not knowing if we’d ever get back into the hostel, to visit the Santa Catalina convent which is a city within a city and very spooky at night being lit mainly by candle light.
Back at the hostel- we were pleased that they let us cancel our last night in the hostel with no charge as we were off on a tour of Colca Canyon about 5 hours away by bus. We did this with a tour company called Colca Treks who were superb. The first stop were volcanic rock formations that looked like fingers protruding out of the ground. We were at almost 5000m altitude and a girl from Poland on the tour with us was feeling the effects. We armed ourselves with coca leaves that we stuck up next to our gums like tobacco sachets- very attractive, but they did the trick. We carried on to see some Vicunas, llamas and alpacas learning the differences between them all thanks to our friendly guide Salome. Our little mini bus was ahead of the big coach loads of tourists most of the time which made the experience much nicer.
The bus ride to the canyon was broken up with a lunch stop where we tried lots of local dishes from a buffet- delicious. The journey was also halted by road works which we had to wait for as a pipe was being ladi across the road. we watched the pipe being laid and the hole being filled back up and I was very impressed with the speed at which it all got done in- about 30 minutes- which I’m sure would’ve taken a few days in the UK.
Arriving at our hotel which was still having some finishing touches done to it having only opened that week was the complete opposite to our previous lodgings. The room and bathroom were like something out of a luxury spa hotel with a panoramic view from the balcony out to the canyon.
We didn’t have much time to dwell in the luxury of the room before we were walking off into the canyon, but only for a couple of hours. We were staying in a small town called Pinchollo which is at the point where the Colca Valley becomes a Canyon which happens very dramatically. The canyon is said to be the worlds deepest canyon- more than twice as deep as the grand canyon- at 4160m deep.
After our evening hike we were back in the comfort of our luxury hotel practising our Spanish with our guide and bus driver, enjoying the view and a delicious trout dinner looking forward to seeing the Condors at the Cruz del Condors near the town of Chivay.
In the morning we walked for about an hour to get to the Condor view point. The huge birds are often spotted floating on the breezes at the lip of the canyon and we were in luck that day, we saw 3 or 4 flying around, not quite as close as perhaps we’d have liked, but still a sight to see with a 3m wingspan.
There was a stop at some hot springs which we’d become a bit dubious about as the hot springs we’ve seen so far haven’t tended to be that hot, clean or big. This one at Chivay blew the others out of the water- it was huge, boiling and super clean. Chris even did lengths in it, almost passing out from the heat and the valley setting was stunning. We could watch people zip lining from one side of the valley to the other as we soaked all our worries away.
Unfortunately the trip had to come to an end and we were dropped off in Arequipa to kill a couple of hours before another bus to Cusco where we were looking forward to an adventure trip to the jungle, Machu Picchu and seeing old-new friends!
Merry Christmas everyone!!