For more than 4 years I’ve had the opportunity to work in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Located North West of Arequipa region, COLCA VALLEY (Picasa web Album) has one of the deepest canyons in the world and one of the most enchanting valleys.
To visit this place you either can take an organized tour or go on your own. Tours are available in every single travel agency since this is the most important tourist destination of Arequipa. The classic tour is 2days / 01 night and the price only depends in the hotel category that you choose; besides that everything else is the same.
THE FIRST DAY.
The trips starts at 8.30 or 9.00 am, sometimes the bus is a bit late but they always shows up.After picking up the rest of the group your guide (normally bilingual) will take you to the first stop a natural viewpoint to see the three main volcanoes of the city. If you come on the right season (July - September) they will be snow-capped. One more stop in a little store to buy some water or snacks.
Buy Coca sweets, some fruit (no bananas since they are heavy to digest) and at least a 2.5 lts water bottle.
Use the toilets they are for free and the next 2 hours there aren’t many chance to go.
Then the adventure is going to lead you to one of the driest deserts in the world, the ATACAMA DESERT, The arid landscape and the millenarian cactuses are part of the perfect picture along the first 2 hours you will see part of the CHILA range of Mountains, the AMPATO, HUALCA HUALCA and the SABANCAYA decorate the view.
The next stop will be to see the VICUNAS, which is one, out of four, of the South American camelids. This wild camelid has one of the finest natural fibers in the world, and it’s one of the most expensive ones as well. If it’s true that this isn’t a zoo and sometimes they aren’t around you would have to be very unlucky.
11 am (aprox.) is the moment to leave the comfy road for a bumpy one, no worries only 20 km and the landscape is admirable. After a stop for coca Tea (USD.1 per cup) and the last chance of proper toilets, we will spend the morning watching llamas and alpacas in the middle of the nature, wild birdlife like ivies, Andean ducks, Andean geese and gulls and Chilean and Andean flamingos if it’s the season, extinguished volcanoes and an unexpected flora in such an isolated place. Finally after a couple of hours you are going to hit the highest point of the trip 4800 m.a.s.l / 15744 feet) besides being a sacred place it’s a great viewpoint where you will see the MISMI volcano where the AMAZON RIVER starts.
After that all the way down to CHIVAY town where you will pay the Park entrance fee, after that enjoy lunch and a free afternoon when you can make a small walk to SOL DE SACSAYHUAMAN (01 hour) and then go to LA CALERA hot springs (S/.10.00 or USD.4)
At night the local guide will invite you to an optional PEÑA SHOW which is a folkloric show while you’re having dinner. The settled dinner is normally S/.25.00 (USD.9,00) and the show is for free. But if you aren’t a big lover of loud nights (or the altitude is affecting you with an awful headache) there are quiet and good restaurants around the main square.
§ Lobos Pizzeria.
§ Dulces del Colca.
§ Alpaca Chef.
GOING OUT AT NITE! MMM…well probably the Irish Pub (yes, there is an Irish Pub) at the main square or MUSPAYQUILLA located to blocks away from the M.S.
Is better to have a early night since the second day starts at 6.00 am.
THE SECOND DAY.
It starts at 6.00 am and take the road on the left bank side of the river. You can visit YANQUE and MACA TOWNS and COQUETICO, ANTAWILQUE and WAYRA PUNKU viewpoints and have extremely wonderful memories of this rich but forgotten valley. It’s simply breathtaking. After PINCHOLLO TOWN starts the canyon and the vertigo could affect you in some points.
Your local guide could offer you and optional walk from CRUZ DEL CURA to CRUZ DEL CONDOR, don’t think about it twice, this walk is basically on the edge of the canyon and it’s safe. Besides that it could be your first chance to see condors.
Finally the Cross of the Condor, an ancient sacred place that nowadays is a wonderful natural viewpoint to see Condors. Make sure you arrive around 8.30 or 9.00 am so you won’t miss a second of this lifetime experience. Sometimes they only fly 5 meters over your head. This place is unique and simply fantastic. Check out the pictures and try to deny it.