Into the Canyon!

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South America » Peru » Arequipa » Colca Canyon
September 25th 2011
Published: October 5th 2011
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Sunday (Sep. 25th)
3 am start. Obnoxiously early, but we had a 3 hour bus ride that we could sleep on so when I woke up for breakfast I was refreshed and ready to hike! Breakfast was slightly disappointing, just bread and jam, but that is normal here, so oh well. Another hour and a half bus ride and we reached our starting point for the hike. Brittany and I had started to get to know the other people on the bus and they were a really cool group, but then our bus driver called for the two of us to get off to meet our guide. Turns out we were hiking seperate, just the two of us with our guide. At first I was a bit bummed because it would have been fun to hike with the whole group but our guide was really good and it turned out to be great to have our own private group. Our guides name was Remi and he was a local from the village at the top of the canyon, Cabanaconde, who had been guiding the canyon for 16 years. He was so nice and talked to us almost the whole time, including to teach us a bit of Quechua which was really interesting.

We started at 3300 meters and descended to the bottom of the canyon at about 2100 meters before climbing up again to the first small village, San Juan, to eat lunch. After a good hour or two of rest we continued on a trail down a side canyon and then up for what seemed like forever to reach the second village of Coshirhua. We just walked through that village and the one next to it, Malata, but they were cute and interesting to see. It is sad because a lot of the young people have moved to Cabanaconde or Arequipa, so a lot of the houses are empty. We finally made the last descent again to 2100 m to the ¨Oasis¨ where we spent the night. The people from the bus this morning ended up sleeping in the same hostel as us so it was good to see them again. Turns out we had paid a decent amount more than they had, but they did not like their guide, and ours was amazing. So I guess you really do pary for quality sometimes. In total today we walked 16 km and made some major altitude changes.

Monday (Sep. 26th)
Another crazy early start, we left the hostel at about 4:15 am to begin the climb stright up out of the canyon. It took us about 2 and a half hours (actually less than normal!) and we gained 1200 meters. Since it was so early the first 45 minutes or so we were kind of stumbling along in the dark with a tiny bit of light from our guides flashlight he shone back at our feet every once in a while. It was crazy. But, the good thing about leaving so early is we didnt have to hike in the sun at all which was nice. We finally made it to the top at about 7 am! Then we had to hike even further to make it to Cabanaconde for breakfast, 9 km total this morning.

After breakfast we had a bit of time to hang out in town before our bus came to take us to Chivay to the hot springs and we met up again with the people from yesterday. When we finally got to the springs they felt so good, and it was nice to actually feel clean again after the dusty trail. At last it was back to Arequipa. Brittany and I had about 2 hours before our bus left so we found a coffee shop, had some coffee, cleaned up in the bathroom, and hung out for a bit. Then it was back on the bus for another 10 hours to Cusco. Overall an amazing weekend! I wish I could have had more time in Arequipa to do more activities, but for the time we had we did a lot and I am just glad I ended up being able to see the city and visit the canyon.


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