From Nazca to Arequipa we had to take an overnight bus which was not the most comfortable of ways to travel especially as we had no flat lay seats. With this in mind we arrived bleary eyed into Arequipa at 5.30 in the morning. At this time nothing was open so we had to wait a while to go and find somewhere to grab some breakfast, we noticed the main square seemed to come alive before many other places, before getting our 7.30 minibus out for a 2 day tour of Colca Canyon. This is the 2nd deepest canyon in the world (almost double the depth of the Grand Canyon).
The drive from Arequipa to Chivay is a long one but was broken up by stops at lots of viewpoints on the way. The first of these was when we spotted a couple of vicuna (wild relatives of llamas and alpacas) wandering on the Pampa Cañahuas National Park in front of El Misti, the volcano that towers over Arequipa city itself. Slightly further along here we stopped for a cup of coca tea to help with the gains in elevation where there was a herd of alpacas to make for some fun pictures.
Along the route we also had the chance to see a lone flamingo and a couple of vizcacha which are giant Andean bunnies. We also stopped at the highest point on the route, Patapampa, which is at 4,800m above sea level.
Before heading into Chivay itself we had to pay for and pick up our park passes and then we checked into a rather dodgy, dingy little hotel. We were able to quickly explore the town itself which had a cute little outdoor market and then we spent the afternoon in the local hot springs. These are split up so some are for locals and some for anybody. Tourists have the choice of 3 pools. We tried all three and number 1 was our favourite. It was amazing to be soaking in the warm pools, because Chivay itself was absolutely freezing, with the mountains surrounding us on all sides. There are changing rooms and showers there and towels can be rented for a small fee but I thought it was definitely worth the entrance fee. I was also tempted to the zip line across the canyon just above the hot springs but in the end decided to save the money.
The first day of the tour to Colca Canyon was mainly used to get there, acclimatize to the increase in altitude and see some pretty cool scenery but the views we had seen that day were enough to get us excited for the following days exploring.
Have you been to Colca Canyon? Are you as obsessed with the alpaca family as we are?