Sunday, June 14, 2009

Canon Del Colca and Arequipa

After an overnight bus from Cusco, we caught the first available bus from the city of Arequipa. We  bussed for 6 hours to the town of Chivay. The town is small and has almost no paved roads. We stayed the night there at a nice family-run hostel with a llama in the courtyard. The next day we took a taxi out to the hot springs where we spent the afternoon lounging in the warm pool and admiring the beautiful surroundings of desert and the beginning of the canyons. We then walked back to town for lunch before boarding the bus for a 2 hour ride to the next town, Cabanaconde.

The town of Cabanaconde is the jumping off point to hike into the Canon del Colca. We got a room for the night and got up early the next morning for a big day of hiking. We decided to hike all the way to the bottom of the canyon and back in the same day. The trail was a dusty gravel switchback path that seemed to go down forever. We could see the bottom but it didn't seem to get closer very quickly. That is because it is one of the world's deepest canyons at 3191 metres deep. While we were not at the deepest point for our hike it was still quite the trek. 

As a break at the bottom we swam in the "oasis" swimming pools, ate lunch and relaxed for a bit. We needed to make it all the way back up before dark so our rest wasn't too long before we needed to get back on the dusty trail.

Hiking up was tough work. We had the hot sun of the desert altiplano and little shade to seek a cool spot to rest as we made our way up, up, up, and up. A really steady climb uphill for 3.5 hours. We had a bit of a rough go and were really glad to make it to the top and back to town, food, shower, and bed. Such a beautiful hike though with amazing shades of browns and reds in the soil, greens in the vegetation, and blues from the pools, river, and sky.

After staying the night in Cabanaconde we caught an early bus back to Arequipa where we spent a couple days wondering the city, trying (without success) to watch game 7 of the stanley cup finals, and lounging before heading on our last bus journey (an overnighter) of the trip.

This is a rooftop shot of Arequipa, the biggest city in the region. It is flanked by 3 volcanos. 

We are off to Lima now...last stop!

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