We left Arequipa bound for the mountains around 8.30am. After a quick stop to get some hydration and sugar supplies (to help combat the altitude) we stopped at a view point of the three mountains which tower over Arequipa, the most prominent being El Misti. It was so picturesque and green, with cows in the foreground and snow capped peaks.
As we drove higher into the mountains we were all given coca leaves to chew, which help to alleviate altitude sickness. The first rest stop we were able to buy coca tea, which was quite similar to green tea. Soon after the stop we started to see the first Peruvian camels. This was followed by Alpacas and Llamas. At one stop a local girl came running over with a 1 day old Alpaca. Here it is okay to photograph locals but they believe in give and take, so you are expected to give them 1 soles (about 60c) in return.
Another stop saw alpacas and flamingos, and one of the guys throw up all over his father. This area had swampy wetlands with towering mountains behind. The highest point of the drive was also the highest point we will reach on the entire trip - 4900m. It was pretty cold and bleak, with piles of rocks as offering covering the surrounding landscape.
Soon we were descending into the town of Chivay, our stop for the night. There was another stop with local girls and lambs and alpacas to hold for photographs. The town of Chivay was a bright patch of green nestled amongst steep valleys of brown rock.
It began to rain as we got to the hotel, but we all had something warm to look forward to - the La Calera Hot Springs. The natural hot pools were toasty and warm, with views looking further down the valley. After two hours of warming our bones it was time to get into some thermals, tramping boots and raincoat to keep the warm inside.
We had a dinner and cultural show in the town, tried some Alpaca meat and thankfully received hot water bottles when we arrived back at the hotel for bed.