Colca Canyon – Part One
Day 75 - Arequipa
Arequipa was to be our stopping off point for our visit to the Colca Canyon, our first task was to find out about the different tours to the Canyon. We soon realised that it wasn’t too difficult to trek the Canyon without a tour, it just required some planning (planning which we executed to perfection... you’ll see). Once we had plans in place we explored Arequipa, starting with a humongous frappe and Papaya smoothie, then a trip to the local market for lunch (some sort of stuffed pepper with cheese and potato gratin for me, fried fish for Jess) and supplies for the next few days.
We walked up to the city viewpoint via a textile factory specialising in clothing made from Alpaca fur, then back to the hostel for a homemade dinner and a Maracuya beer!
Day 76 - Chivay
Standard bread and jam breakfast at the bus station before our 9:30am bus to Chivay, some amazing scenery along the way. Our plan was to spend the day in Chivay and catch a 4am bus the next day towards the Colca Canyon. This meant we had time to explore and relax for the day. We stayed in a hostel as close to the bus station as we could (we later determined there were 2 hostels closer, all within 30 seconds of each other but every second of sleep counts!).
A wander to the town square ended with Jess beelining for some baby Alpacas, a single sol (25p) to stroke and get some photos! We then hopped in a taxi to the local thermal baths, where our taxi driver kindly waited for an hour to take us back (seems business is slow in Chivay!). The baths were lovely but full of blumin tourists, I wish people would understand that, although we know we’re following popular tourist routes, we would appreciate other tourists letting us enjoy events in peace.
We ended the day with one of the highlights of the trip for me so far. We went to a local observatory and planetarium for a constellation presentation and to use their telescopes. When we arrived there were already 6 people having the presentation so we waited with a cup of tea for them to finish and joined them to observe space through the amazing telescopes. Unfortunately there are no photos of what we saw but my mind was blown, single stars in the sky turns out to be two or three stars, completely dark places in the sky turns out to be clusters of tens of millions of stars, nebulas of thick gas prevent light from stars reaching earth but result in glowing areas of dark! We also saw Jupiter clear enough to see the different colours on the planet and Saturn clear enough to see it’s rings! It was truly incredible. Once we finished observing the rest of the group left and the guide gave us a private constellation presentation and then took us out for some more star observations just for me and Jess!
Then we had a cold walk back to the hostel and straight to bed setting our alarms for 3am!