Days 17-22: Lake Titicaca to Colca Canyon
Trip Start Oct 15, 2013
24Trip End Ongoing
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We left Puno at 6 am to take the 6.5 hour bus to Chivay, a town in Colca Canyon. The scenery along the way was beautiful, passing snow capped mountains and volcanos. We drove through a pass at 4910 m which was the highest we've been so far. Even though we were just sitting in a bus we were both breathing heavy. The bus driver stopped and offered to take a picture of us at this point with volcanoes in the background.
The Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world and attracts travellers for its hiking and hot springs. You can also see condors if you get up early enough and have good weather (they only fly when skies are clear). We arrived to Chivay at 12:30 pm. We checked into our hostel, which was run and owned by the sweetest lady. She seemed so happy to have us, maybe it was because we were the only people there..
After the hot springs we went back to town and grabbed a delicious market meal for 2 dollars then went back to the hostel. Our host greeted us at the door to offer tea (before this trip Matt and I were not tea people but now we are after they constantly offer it everywhere and at all hours). The host did not know any English whatsoever but still wanted to hang out and watch English movies with us. She also would knock on our door every hour including after we went to bed to make sure we were warm and if we wanted more tea. It kind of felt like she was our Peruvian mother.
The next day we woke up to a great breakfast from our Peruvian mom then ventured off on a hike she recommended. We made our way to a town 7 km away called Coporaque and got a little lost so it did take longer than it should have. At one point we found ourselves in a farmers field with horses who didn't seem too happy to have us there. We then ended up hiking down a river for an hour to eventually make our way back. We arrived back to town 7 hours later and we were so relieved we headed straight for a restaurant to order lots of food and beers. Most people would recommend we hit the hot springs again but we had so many scrapes and cuts we didn't want to embarrass ourselves or feel the sting
We wandered around Chivay for a couple of hours and grabbed the 12 o'clock local bus to Cabanaconde. So far we see the prices for the local buses are substantially lower than the tourist buses. That day we really knew why. Though the tourist buses offer snacks, drinks, blankets, etc they more importantly make your safety the first priority. They do not keep cramming people on. They also have a speedometer on the front which connects to a GPS to signal the company if the bus driver is speeding. The 2 hour ride to Cabanaconde felt more like a roller coaster speeding through the torn up, cliff hanger roads while you were standing up trying to hold your balance and watch your pockets at the same time. There were more people standing in the aisle than sitting down. Overall it was part of the adventure!
We got to town to look for our hostel, Pachamama, and found the street all dug up from pipe work. The owner saw us from a distance and hopped through the piles of dirt to meet us (he laid down some planks of wood to help us get there). He apologized for the street and offered us a really good room price since the water was shut off (we would have to dump buckets of water down the toilet to make it flush and no showers). We settled with the hostel because the reviews are so good and they are also known to have the best wood fired pizza and bar in town. They are also known for giving awesome directions for hiking the Colca Canyon.
That night we fell in love with Pachamama. The restaurant was lit with candles, great music playing and the fire was roaring
We met up with our new friends at 8 am and began our hike into the canyon to our first destination at Llauhar Lodge. The first day of hiking was all down the canyon for a descent of over 1200 m. It was easier on the heart but hard on the feet and knees from the steep decline and loose dirt. During the hike a stray dog found us and would not leave our side. We eventually realized that he was guiding us to our destination and even showed us short cuts. We crossed a river and saw a geyser downstream. We got a bit closer to take a look and had lunch.
Near the end of the hike we passed a small isolated village and tried to confirm with the lady living there we were on the right path. As the German was chatting to her (he was fluent in Spanish) I peeked inside her small house and saw that she had lots of guinea pigs running around the floor
We got to Llauhar Lodge at around 2 pm. It was a beautiful rustic resort at about 7 dollars each a night. Our room was made of bamboo and didn't even have a floor. It was built beside the river and had a pool being run by a hot spring. They taught us how to fish using their rods. We didn't catch anything and therefore had supper of rice and veggies only. That night we had some beers and the Europeans taught us a fun card game "yanif assaf", a game that they had learned from some Israeli's a few weeks earlier.
Today we said goodbye to our European friends to make our way to the next lodge at Sangalle (they wanted to do a 3 night hike). Sangalle is located near the river as well but the only way to get to it is to hike back up the canyon and then down again. We arrived in the afternoon. This lodge was rustic and beautiful again but only had a cold pool. The weather was hot for the first bit but we were too busy filling our bellies so missed out on the pool time.
Today we hiked 1100 m straight back up to Cabanaconde. It was the hardest hike for me but it only took 2.5 hours. We stayed at Pachamama one more night. We taught our American friends how to play crib so spent most of the evening eating pizza, drinking beers and playing cards. We were hurting pretty bad from our three day hike, so it turned out to be another early night.