Published: 23 March 2013
Country: Peru       Author: Marc-Aurèle

Arequipa & Colca canyon

End of december 2012

We got on our first long distance bus travel, and a night trip to get to Arequipa from Lima. We took the VIP service to get the best seats, but still we could lay them all flat. Nevertheless we got a nice service before and during the trip, with a diner and breakfast and movies. We had the seats on the upper floor and in the first row to enjoy the view, but with more "turbulences".

In Arequipa, we searched for information about the two canyons you can access in the region. We tried to meet up with a guy from couchsurfing but it didn't work out. It's christmas time, busy time. Thanks to the advice of the hostel's owner, we go on a roof terrace to look at the sunset the night before leaving town. Amazing spot!

  • Arequipa cathedral with the surrounding mountains
    Arequipa cathedral with the surrounding mountains
  • Apero time on the terrace thanks to the owner of our hostel!
    Apero time on the terrace thanks to the owner of our hostel!
  • Lights of the night
    Lights of the night

We decided to see Colca canyon, but with our own means of transport and not on a tour from Arequipa. They all looked pretty nasty when you looked at their time schedule with the tour leaving at 3am from Arequipa. We took the local bus to get to Cabanaconde and stay in a hostel there for one night before going in the canyon. We arrived in the evening and the owner of the hostel was at the bus stop to pick us up, nice surprise! Most people come with a tour, so if you want to have guest at your hostel without a paid reservation, you'd better be at the bus stop when they come, no? The guy was really nice, from the hostel Pachamama, and gave us the information we needed about the canyon, which he does for anyone coming there. So we had our plan for the following days and could enjoy a good pizza with beers.

  • Local on our bus to Cabanaconde
    Local on our bus to Cabanaconde
  • Ready to start the trek down the canyon
    Ready to start the trek down the canyon

In the morning we woke up to start walking down the canyon, much faster than we thought and we arrived for an early lunch in the first village down on the other side of the river, San Juan de Chuccho. After chilling we walked all the way up to Tapay, where we hoped to stay for the night but only the expensive lodge was open. The owner of the other one was in Arequipa... We learned this late in the afternoon, after waiting for hours in front of the lodge and receiving fruits from a very old lady who could only speak Quechua. We tried to ask her about the lodge but yeah, of course we didn't understand anything. When someone else told us he was gone, we decided to go down to the village we would have passed by in the morning for the night, Cosñirhua. We stayed in a posada with a group accompanied by a guide and had an excellent diner.

  • Colca canyon trail
    Colca canyon trail
  • Colca canyon from Cabanaconde side. Look at the trails. Tapay is the little grey T/X on the other side, quite high up.
    Colca canyon from Cabanaconde side.
    Look at the trails. Tapay is the little grey T/X on the other side, quite high up in front. The river is also visible. Bigger than Grand Canyon, now way!
  • One of the few bridges over the river
    One of the few bridges over the river
  • Tapay's villagers working in their fields
    Tapay's villagers working in their fields
  • An out-of-nowhere small park in Tapay, Cabanaconde is on the other side at the top
    An out-of-nowhere small park in Tapay, Cabanaconde is on the other side at the top
  • Waiting for the owner of the posada to show up. He never did!
    Waiting for the owner of the posada to show up. He never did!
  • Local help in the canyon!
    Local help in the canyon!
  • Sunset at Cosnirhua
    Sunset at Cosnirhua

The next morning we walked down to the other bridge, down the river, to cross back to Cabanaconde side, and to chill out in what they call "the oasis". It's very green, and with 5 posadas, each having its own pool, with water coming from a source at a not too cold temperature. The water is flowing all the time so no need for chlorine in the pool, nice! We had the pool for us as the tourist who are staying there are always leaving early in the morning, and the next ones would only come after lunch. That was a great time! Lunch in our stomach, we started the hike up the canyon to get back to the village and our hostel. Again, the walk was faster than the time we got told from the hostel and it let us enjoy some beers in town before crawling for a good night of sleep.

  • Oasis village
    Oasis village
  • Pool of fresh water. The water is coming from a source, and goes back to the river.
    Pool of fresh water. The water is coming from a source, and goes back to the river.
  • Confection of the dress.
    Confection of a dress.
  • Cabanaconde
    Cabanaconde

Then, we took the bus back to Arequipa and a night bus to Cusco, our next destination.

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