I had two more days in Cusco before my night bus to Arequipa and I decided to take full advantage to sort myself out. The next day I sorted my laundry, cleaned boots, brought supplies, by a bus ticket, checked and cleaned everything and repacked. Plus I had to sort and delete 1500 photos, transfer them to my phone, upload them to the cloud, upload them to the blog and write the blog. There is a lot of admin to do.
I had sorted a lot by 1pm so headed out to a Vegan Cafe to get some much needed vegetables. After I was meeting Miri and Arvid in a chocolate shop to swap notes on the Salankaty trek. I ended up having one of these and it was delicious.
After I headed back to relax and treated myself to a Chinese dinner as there is a lot of Asian food in Cusco.
The next day it was a case of packing and waiting for the bus. I went back to Jacks one last time just because I now knew it well and I wasn’t in the mood to find or try something new. I ordered a tuna melt which wasn’t quite what I expected but it came with a huge salad and I was happy to experience lots of vegetables.
After lunch I caught up with Claudia who i met in Santa Cruze and also happened to arrive in Cusco that day. We had some icecream before taking a tour of the market and supermarket before I sat in the hostel in the WIFI waiting for my night bus time.
Again I reassert how much I hate night busses. Despite taking Cruz del Sur, a company aimed at tourists that has increased security and comfy seats it was still a bumpy ride. There was a lot of traffic outside Arequipa so I ended up arriving two hours late. Jumped in a taxi, take one from outside the station as it’s half the price of the guys inside the bus station and still probably too much, and arrived at the hostel to meet Alice and Sam who I’d met on the Salankaty. They made me an amazing breakfast and soon after dropping our bags at the hostel we were in a taxi back to the bus station. One piece of advice I’d give anyone hiking Colca Canyon is that you don’t need to take your big bag, unless you are camping, but there really is no need as there are a lot of really budget hostels you can stay in and when you experience how steep it is I think you’ll appreciate that advice.
From the main terminal in Arequipa you can take a bus to Cabanaconde, which is the main town where the hikes begin. We actually had a place booked in a town called Yanque which is a beautifully picturesque town, although there is not a lot to do there. After having a quick shower and sorting ourselves out we went for a wonder around town while it was still light and brought some supplies.
We went back to the hostel for a delicious three course meal, where I tried my first Alpaca. I’ve been avoiding Llama and Alpaca meat as I’ve been told that the locals don’t eat it and it’s just for tourists. I don’t really want to get in on eating things that are just for tourists, although it might be different in Peru. I was told this in Chile and Argentina which both feel so far away now. It was delicious and we had an early night ahead of the early start tomorrow.
The bus to Cabanaconde left at 7:30am so we grabbed some food and headed to the square which was alive with tourists. It seems that all the towns stop off here where the locals sell their products and there were school children dancing around the fountain. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this all being put on for white tourists so I brought some empanadas and kept my distance waiting for the bus with Sam and Alice.
The bus soon arrived and it was a 90minute journey to our starting town. But we could see the canyon on the way there.
We had debated getting off the bus early at the Cóndor lookouts but had decided against it. This would have added 2 hours and 11km to the journey and meant walking up along the road. Luckily for us, and especially me, the bus stopped for a few minutes to let passengers on and I was able to get a great view sitting on this side.
A few minutes later when the bus was driving a Cóndor flew along side about five metres distance away. I wasn’t able to get my camera out quick enough trouble photograph it as obviously I had just put my camera away.
Se got off the bus at the main square. Popped to the tourism office to buy our tickets for 70 Soles and headed to the starting point. Again Alice and Sam had done all he thinking and planning so all I had to do was to find the trail on Maps me and follow it. We had a dog guide who wanted to show us the place he contemplates life so we followed him to find out what the view was like.
After taking the short diversion we headed back to the main path where a man checked our tickets. So remember to buy them. Our first destination was Llahur as we were doing a three day two night trek. Going this route there is a lot of down. We would actually be walking down all day. We didn’t actually start walking until around 10:30 and by this time it was already hot. The canyon is actually really hot and it’s best if you can to set off early.
We had been walking down for an hour or so and Alice and I were both beginning to feel the heat. I don’t know why but I felt exhausted even tho I’d just done what is supposed to be a harder trek. That night have been the reason. At this point the trek flattened out for a while but then the real down kicked in.
The steep down took us toward the river which is always annoying as it means you have to hit a really low point before going up again. In my experience of hiking rivers are bad. It seemed t take forever to get there and the river never seemed to get closer but somehow we eventually made it.
And here are the bridges to prove it. After crossing we took a gentleish up and for this part of the trek we had to walk along the road.
I’m really guessing now but maybe after another hour of walking we could see our destination. The one problem was there was more steep down and this we would have to walk up again the next day.
We reached the hostel and all nearly collapsed partly due to heat but it was also now nearly 3pm and we hadn’t eaten. Alice persuaded the owner to cook us lunch, which was cheap but really bland along with dinner but it’s food in the middle of nowhere so you can’t really argue. We were going to check out the various hotels but this one had hot springs which we made full use of. I think we went to bed at around 8pm right after dinner, but not before I photographed the cat.
The next day we had planned to set of early to beat the heat but by the time breakfast had been served it was 7:20 by the time we left. We decided to follow the trial on Maps me which was shorter but more steep. But I hate hiking up roads so for us it was the better way to go.
We reached the highest point of this side of the canyon and rested while a few others caught up with us.
All that was left to do was to trek down to the oasis. In the pictures below you can see both the path down and the path back up on the other side. That’s not a fire below its steam.
Around halfway down we reached a plateau. There is a shop and I made friends with a local spider.
There was another steep decent into the Oasis and we had reached our destination by 11am. We skipped the first place as the swimming pool was dirty and ended up at a hostel that was a little like paradise.
I actually found this day really difficult as I wanted to climb the remaining distance out of the valley. It’s not really like me to sit around in the sun and do nothing but I was with others so I took the opportunity to catch up on my reading. But being the only single person around lots of couples was actually quite hard. Weirdly on such a tough hike it’s one of the most resorty places I’ve been. It’s a paradise but I’m more into hiking than relaxing. Maybe that’s something I need to learn.
Luckily for me there was a kitten to harass so I concentrated on that.
We decided to start really early for the hike up to avoid the sun and it seemed that everyone else had exactly the same idea. Still we left early and Alice found out the better path to take. I ended up being the pace setter and we had some really fun conversations walking up one of the steepest paths I’ve ever had the privilege to witness.
It was supposed to take 3 hours but took less that 2:30 which meant we could get the 9am bus back to Arequipa.
The bus journey back to Arequipa takes the best part of 6 hours and goes up to nearly 5000 metres. It is however an absolute treat for the eyes. Sadly the sheep that were put in the luggage hold of the bus didn’t get to see any of this but I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
And everything you see below is up at over 5000 metres. Just look up at the sky and imagine.
And then we finally saw the other side of the volcano that is the picturesque view that you can see from Arequipa.
After the bus finally arrived we jumped into a taxi back to the hostel and all pretty much collapsed after a long hard hike and journey.