The Colca Canyon has been on my list ever since that drive from Puno to Arequipa 3 years ago. Though I had thought about doing the overnight trek with Uju, we let it go, in the interest of saving time, money and energy, once Souvik opted out of the trip. Much against my nature, we booked a bus tour to Chivay and the Cruz del condor, but did manage to tailor it just a wee bit.
As expected, the landscapes were out of this world, with the right amount of cuteness.
We stopped at the highest point of the tour, at 4900 m, which was also the coldest, with subzero temperatures, oreo-esque landscape, and the sight of 3 volcanoes in the distance.
That’s the town of Chivay nestled among the mountains.
After a brief, chaotic lunch stop in Chivay, Uju and I were driven off to the tiny village of Yanque, where we were to stay the night.
Our accommodation in Yanque was in a hostel that was basic but charming, and I can’t seem to find it on the map. The owners had a lovely restaurant where they cooked everything from scratch, simple hearty food and gave us unlimited quantities of boiling hot water in a flask to keep us going.
The tour company had organised for us a guided walk through the town. Our guide was Krisna, a 13-year old speaking excellent English and highly enthused to share her experiences with Indian kids that she’d met on an exchange program. Our walk was meant to acclimatise us for the Salkantay trek, but we took it too easy, packing in zipline and lots of photo ops through the tiny village.
Ultimately, it got too dark to walk all the way to Uyu Uyu, but we did stop on the bridge across the river, to spot the colcas – little niches in the rock face that served as storage. Though I am not totally sure, it may have been the origin of the name of the canyon and the river.
It was a good thing we were carrying layers of clothing, as the temperature in the night hovered around 2 deg C, with no heating in the room. The hot shower felt like heaven!
The following morning, we rushed to the plaza early, to meet our bus. The locals were putting on their morning show to welcome busloads of tourists with a cheerful dance and colourful market. We had a frenzied shopping spree, coz who can resist these intricately embroidered creations, right?
A few more scenic stops on the way:
… until we arrived at the Cruz del Condor: the viewing point for the Andean condor. Such a majestic bird deserves a post all to itself, don’t you think?
The drive back to Arequipa was milder, but not before an entertaining show of Chivay’s military strength in the Plaza de Armas that brought out all the locals.
No matter where you stop to look, the canyon is simply majestic.
Another day, I shall do the hike.