Saturday, August 31, 2013

Colca Canyon (August 22nd - 26th, 2013)

Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world. We were really looking forward to going there, as it has a good hiking infrastructure and for once we could leave our camping equipment at the storage of our hostel. 

We arrived at the bus terminal quite a lot in advance, as we had been advised at an information point. To our surprise, at the bus terminal, we were told that there is a bus that leaves for Chivay immediately, and that there is no direct connection to Cabanaconde on that day. Happy that we did not have to wait, we took the bus and arrived in Chivay. There we found out that the next bus to Cabanaconde would leave 90 minutes later, so we walked to the central square and had a late lunch. In the evening we arrived in Cabanaconde. We were thinking of staying at Pachamamahome and we were delighted to find that there was a person waiting at the square to bring other people from the bus to the hostel. We happily joined him and got one of the last free rooms there. In the evening we had a pizza, took advantage of the happy hour and played a game of chess, which Laura won again.

In the morning I biked up to Cruz del Condor, which was indeed quite tough. Laura, together with Nicole from the US and Anna from Spain took a luxurious option to be driven there by the owner of our hostel. We spent almost two hours watching the condors. At around 10 a.m. the condors were really flying five meters away from us and we truly enjoyed a close view of these magnificent birds.

One of many condors we saw

From Cruz del Condor we biked all together back to Cabanaconde. It took us a bit more time than expected. Laura and I then had a quick lunch and started descending to the bottom of the canyon. It was a long way down, but provided us with many marvelous views.

A long way down to the bottom of the Colca Canyon

A bridge and geysers at the bottom

Fortunately, our schematic map from Pachamamahome was a bit wrong and from the bridge we managed to go to Llahuar in 40 minutes instead of the suggested 2 hours. At Llahuar we had plenty of time to enjoy a thermal pool together with a nice German group. After the pool we were hungry and had a delicious vegetarian dinner. We planned our next day, and soon it was time to go to sleep in our small bungalow.

The cutest guest of Llahuar lodge

The next day we hiked up on the road towards Mallata. The views were again great, but eventually the weather started getting a bit worse. We even put the rain covers on our back, but fortunately we did not really need them.

Beautiful river down in the valley

In the morning the weather was still good

In Mallata we were planning to have lunch at a local restaurant. This plan was changed because of a supply truck that attracted everybody's attention, including that of the restaurant owner. We adapted quickly and also bought some supplies for our lunch from the truck.

Truck providing bread, fruits, rice, pasta and other supplies
From Mallata it was an easy hike down to Oasis Sangalle. It again started to look a bit like rain, so we needed to hurry.

Going down was straightforward

Laura with a waterfall close to our lodge

We were positively surprised with the accommodation in Oasis Sangalle: competition can do miracles. Every place had a pool and a beautiful garden. We even had a volleyball court. As the weather got a bit better we swam in the pool and then relaxed in the hammocks. After dinner we played cards with two nice people from the UK/Ireland.

Pool at our lodge, not as warm as the thermal baths at Llahuar, but still pleasant for swimming

By the time we woke up the next day, everybody else had already left. We did not know that the sun may make the ascent to Cabanaconde quite unpleasant and that all groups try to make it there at 9 or earlier. Fortunately, it was not a problem for us as it was quite cloudy. On the way up, we enjoyed the best views of the canyon.

Morning at our lodge

Our place from above

Colca Canyon is surrounded by some quite high mountains
Around noon we managed to reach Cabanaconde. We soon found out that the 2 p.m. bus was completely sold out, so we quickly joined some other tourists who had already managed to organize a big taxi to Chivay. There we had a late lunch and then relaxed in the local thermal baths. The next morning we took a bus back to Arequipa.

As usually, we contributed to OpenStreetMap and have some more pictures.

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