Trip Start May 01, 2010
90Trip End Apr 30, 2011
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After a short night's sleep we got up at 2.30am, ready for our 3am pickup for the Colca Canyon trek, which annoyingly didn't actually arrive until closer to 4am
From Cabanaconde we began the descent into the canyon. Colca Canyon is 100 km long and ranges from 1000-3000 metres in depth (over twice as deep as the Grand Canyon) and is surrounded by high volcanoes. It is dry season now and the slopes were dusty brown and covered in San Pedro cactus and prickly pear. After about 4 hours we reached the Rio Colca at the bottom and overnighted in small huts owned by a local family who cooked us dinner, which they told us was carne de condor (it was actually soya)!
When we awoke the next morning we spotted two scorpions scuttling across the floor of our hut
We were up before sunrise the next day to start the long 1000 metre climb up and out of the canyon. It was a relentless slog along a narrow, vertigo-inducing path that zig-zagged up and up. We were told that it would take about 3 and a half hours to reach the top and so were very pleased with ourselves when we made it in 2 hours. We met our minibus in Cabanaconde and drove back to Chivay where we had a tasty but overpriced buffet lunch and spent an hour at some hot springs, where the waters are naturally heated by the surrounding volcanoes. Then we started the 3 hour journey back to Arequipa passing through an amazing landscape of cone-shaped volcanoes, high altitude rolling grassy plains and bleak rocky areas which looked like the surface of the moon. We were lucky to spot some vicunas too, wild relatives of the domesticated alpacas and llamas that graze this altiplano area in large numbers
We arrived back in Arequipa by 6pm, with just enough time to grab the rest of our luggage from Home Sweet Home and take a taxi to the bus station, where we boarded the overnight Cruz del Sur bus to Cuzco. Phew!
Notes for travellers
Cruz Del Sur bus company tickets can be easily purchased on the internet in advance. Cost 82 Soles each from Huaraz to Lima (9 hours) and 122 Soles each from Lima to Arequipa (15 hours). All these costs are for VIP lower floor seats (beds!)
Colca Canyon trek (Cost 145 Soles each + 35 Soles each entry to Colca Canyon area and 10 Soles each hot springs entry). Take extra monies for drinks and last meal which was not included.