Tired from our activities in Huacachina, we had a half-decent night’s rest in the night bus all the way to Arequipa. That’s a twelve-hour ride!
In Arequipa we basically did nothing but get some food and hop onto the next bus, one that would be heading to Chivay. Another four or so hours, but at least the view was nice. There’s only a few bus-friendly roads in that area, and they meander along the steep mountain hills. Occasionally, you’ll see llamas or alpacas walking around, eating the increasingly more frequent vegetation that happens to be capable of growing at altitudes of 3.5 kilometers above sea level… and counting. And then, as you enter the last hour of the journey, it comes into view. A beautiful little town surrounded by a gorgeous landscape.
As you may be able to tell from my slightly affectionate style of writing, I absolutely love that place. We spent nearly three full days there which is the longest we stayed in one place without any “obligations” like tours. It has everything we needed for the duration of our stay. Cheap hostels, good food, lawnmower creativity, and an easy way to get into the Colca Canyon area for some good ol’ mountain hiking. There’s a bunch of other small towns nearby to which you can take a collectivo to get started on your trek.
So of course that’s exactly what we did. Despite still having some small issues adjusting to the height (Chivay itself is located at 3.6 kilometers above sea level, it gave me a slight headache for the first day) we set off and… got lost before we even left the neighboring town of Coporaque. Luckily one of the locals who had been in the minivan with us was happy to walk us to the official start of the hiking route. “Muchas gracias”, and we were on our merry way. The sun was hot, I was stupid and couldn’t be assed to re-apply my sunscreen regularly, but it was so worth it. We enjoyed many a great view and at the end of our route we ran into a bunch of… reconstructed ruins. (You can see my camera struggling with the “extreme” lighting conditions, sadly.) They’ve been completely destroyed multiple times due to earthquakes and other natural disasters, yet a group of archaeologists has put in the effort to fully reconstruct the site. Impressive!
Fun fact: Chivay is the place where I ate my first serving of Alpaca meat! It was okay.