Surving the Eco Buss but only just!!! 29 Oct-2 Nov

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
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16
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Trip End May 28, 2011


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Where I stayed
Arequipa and Chivey, Colca Canyon

Flag of Peru  , Arequipa,
Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Friday 29th October 2010

Katharina back from her trip to Machu Picchu I left her a note for her to say Iīd come to Arequipa with her if she was still interested. She was so we went down to the bus terminal to book tickets. Weīve paid 25 soles, around 6 pounds to go with a company called Eco Buss. Very cheap so will be interesting to see what itīs like.

On my ticket is say the bus leaves at 8pm, on Katharinaīs it says 8.30pm so just to make sure we get there early...well shouldnīt have bothered it turned up at 10pm and didnīt leave until half past. Amazed it actually did as it was the worst looking bus Iīve ever seen. When it finally did arrive at the bus station there was smoke coming from its tyres...and looked everything but an ÉCOBUSī !!!! Anyway it eventually got going. K and I were the only westerners on it...and it really was not particularly comfortable and it got steamed up very quickly as the windows wouldnīt open so it was extremely stuffy...but then what can you expect for paying next to nothing. The bus was going very slow and kept stopping, then about an hour or so outside of Cusco it came to a standstill. K was asleep but I was a bit concerned. The locals were getting frustrated but I couldnīt understand what was going on. Some got off and then so did I to find the driver underneath the bus doing something to the wheel....didnīt really inspire me with confidence that we were going to make it to Arequipa and if I could have flagged down a taxi to take us back to Cusco I would have done but no such luck. So it was fingers and toes crossed that got back on the bus and the journey began...We just prayed that it would get us there.

And amazingly it did but is an experience Iīd rather not go through again. Just outside of Arequpia we stopped again and I couldnīt quite believe what I was seeing but they started unloading cow hides from the bus I kid you not - only in Peru....So my advice to anyone who reads this and is travelling by bus in Peru, donīt donīt donīt ever travel with Eco Buss!

Saturday 30th October

So we finally arrive in Arequipa at 9am - 3 hours late, but in this case better late than never....The city has a nice plaza but on first impressions I prefer Cusco. We have booked onto a 2 day tour of Colca Canyon the deepest in the world for tomorrow....Had a lovely breakfast and dinner, the food is good here but the pisco sours are not a patch on the ones in Cusco...Lots of families out tonight to celebrate halloween, didnīt think they would celebrate it out here but there are lots of shops selling masks etc seems to be quite popular.  The room in the hostal where we are staying overlooks a main road and plaza and it very noisy. Noise from traffic and people partying goes on till 3am...

We get picked up for the tour at 7.30am and head to Colca Canyon in a minibus with about 12 other people. We went up to one view point which was 4,900 metres high. Because of the high altitude the guide gave us actual coca leaves to chew. There is a special technique to the chewing to get the best effective to allieviate the symptoms of altitute sickness. But the leaves actually made me feel sick, I think Iīll stick to the coca tea and sweets!

We ended up the day in the rather barren and desolate town of Chivay. All the tour went to the hot springs but Katharina and I decided to explore the town, wish we hadnīt bothered as there really was nothing to do there. I was so bored I actually decided to get my fringe cut...in a rather basic hairdressers. Not exactly Tony & Guys but thought they canīt really muck up a fringe or could they? Thankfully all ok and set me back the bargin price of 5 soles just over one pound so canīt really complain.

Later in the evening we went to a traditional Peruvian evening organised by the tour. We had a set meal and enjoyed some traditional dancing.  Had an early night as have to be up for 5am tomorrow to continue the tour...

Monday 1st November 2010

Up early to journey to Colca Canyon as we need to get there early as this gives us the best chance of seeing Condors, which is one of the things the Canyon is famous for.  We arrived at the lookout point around 8.30am and stayed till 10am. It gets very busy with tourists which spoils it but it also quite a tranquil place if you can find a quiet spot. We saw 2 condors from a distance, a bit disappointing but at least we did see some. We then head back to Chivay for lunch which is followed by a very boring and bumpy bus ride back to Arequipa.  A bit disppointed in Arequipa everyone I met said how wonderful it is but I really do prefer Cusco and the Canyon trip was ok, perhaps it is more impressive if you do trekking, but still glad I went there.

Tuesday 2nd November 2010

Booked my bus back to Cusco, after the Eco Buss experience I have decided not to go budget and pay a normal rate to get me back. This time I pay 70 soles, more than double but worth it for piece of mind that I will be with a reputable bus company which get me back to Cusco without any complications. However nothing is ever that straighforward. The travel agent I booked with said they would pick me up from the hostal and take me to the bus terminal. An overnight bus leaving around 8pm. I kid you not but this old guy who looked about 80 and had one arm came to collect me. OMG surely heīs not driving me is he - well you never know in Peru, but no he flagged a taxi and we went to the station together but we got dropped off at the wrong terminal....so had to run with my backpack on to the other terminal which thankfully was nearby and just made it in time!  Anyway this was like 1st class air travel compared to Eco Buss. Had top floor front seats so could recline back it was almost like a real bed - really comfortable but still find it hard to sleep on these overnight buses and arrive in Cusco at 6am.
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