The names: Will and Tori’s Spanish adventure names.
This post will document the 4-day trek that we took through Colca Canyon, Arequipa District, Peru.
June 8th, 2013: Lima to Arequipa
Our trip began with a 5AM flight from Lima to Arequipa. After arriving in Arequipa — exhausted from packing up our rooms at our host homes in Lima, completing “finals”, and saying goodbyes to everyone on our exchange program — we ate complimentary airy bread rolls with jam and rested at our hostal first in hammocks and then, once we could check in, in our beds. After waking up from our naps, we visited Santa Catalina Monastery a beautiful old monastery in central Arequipa. It is still home to nuns but part of it has been converted into a museum so that tourists like us can admire the paintings, the simple rooms with a bed and a cross that the nuns called home, the rustic kitchens with old wood fire places and big pots and pans ashen with age, and the spaces where they spent hours devoting themselves in silence. The architecture is amazing, brilliant adobe red walls line the pathways and the power of religion to guide a life is present around every corner. We left and walked around Arequipa for a bit, bought some snacks for the trek ahead at the local market (animal crackers, raisins, cashews, canchita, chifles, bread, bananas, oranges), and then found a restaurant to eat at. It had one thing on the menu: a plate stacked high with different types of grilled meat (pork, steak, cow heart, sausage, and a mysterious type that I decided was some animal`s intestine, fried). It came with french fries and a salty salad. We dug in, preparing our bodies for the trek ahead.
June 9th, 2013: Arequipa to Cabanaconde/Colca Canyon
On day 2 we took a tourist bus to Cabanaconde that left at 3:30AM. We stopped for breakfast in Chivay around 7:00 AM and were served their signature air-pocket white bread, jam, cheese, olives, juice, and instant coffee. We then headed to Cruz del Condor, a viewing point and tourist magnet for the Andean Condor – a large vulture (wingspan 3.2m) that lives in high altitude regions of South America. We arrived at 8:30 and stayed for 45 minutes to oooh and ahhhh along with the other 10-15 buses of tourists. From their it was a short ride to the start of our trek just outside of Cabanaconde. We opted not to get a guide after talking to people in our hostal who told us the trails were very navigable and we could make our way without one. We headed into the trail at 9:30AM, attempting to stay slightly ahead of the guided tours that were in our bus with us . The trek to our first hostal in San Juan de Chuccho was steep descent, as to be expected when you are entering a 13,650 ft canyon. We arrived at Rio Colca around 12:30pm, dipped our feet in the water and ate lunch on rocks beside the powerful rush of the river. We then got settled into our Hostal Gloria in San Juan de Chuccho. We took naps, played cards with our fellow trekkers, and ate a wonderful meal of creamy vegetable noodle soup and a vegetable and egg mixture with rice. The company at this hostal was great- a young Scottish couple that were taking their summer to travel Latin America and an young Australian man who has been bouncing around Peru, learning Spanish and exploring. We talked about our countries and played cards late into the night.
June 10th, 2013: San Juan de Chuccho to Fure
We awoke for breakfast at 7:30AM. I was expecting the standard bread, jam, coffee combo but wonderful marvelous Gloria brought us banana pancakes, swirled with chocolate sauce. I almost cried. After fueling up we headed out for a 5-hour hike of ups and downs that brought us to Fure, a less visited village deep in the Canyon. The hostal, Hostal Karina, was a little rougher around the edges (no running water, but their was a nice ceramic toilet and small waterfalls with ice-cold refreshing mountain water nearby to wash your hands and face in). We napped again (so nice) and enjoyed a dinner of semolina soup and squash stew with rice. Our company included two 70-year old Japanese powerhouses who bought us rounds of Rum and Inka Cola and shared stories of all their trekking adventures in their broken English. I asked him how they stay so fit and he said he excercises everyday, eats well, and treats himself to saki or whiskey or rum (and in this case Inka Cola) every night. Sounds simple.
June 11th, 2013: Fure to Llahuar
We awoke at 6AM to head to a waterfall about an hour`s ascent from Fure. The trail was perilous at times but we made it easy and relaxed by the rush of the falls. We returned to Fure at 8:30 AM for breakfast of fried egg and rice and then we set off to Llahuar. The hike was mostly downhill (but all the trails throw some ups in just for fun). We arrived at Llahuar at noon, checked into Hostal Yola, had pancakes and jam for lunch, and then headed to the hot springs — 40 degree C thermal baths a stone`s throw away from the hostal. I spent the afternoon soaking in the springs, icing my tired legs in the cool river beside it, and sun-bathing on a rock reading my book. It was lovely. The night was similar to those before, this time talking and playing Jenga with a couple from Netherlands, enjoying cornmeal-base vegetable soup and trout with skilled-fried vegetables and rice. We set to sleep at 9PM, resting our legs for the tomorrow`s ascent.
June 12th, 2013: Llahuar to Cabanaconde
We left at the break of dawn, 5:30AM, for Cabanaconde, trying to catch a 11:30 bus. The trail was up, up, up but whenever I got exhausted or the legs were just not having it, I took a breath and looked around at the marvelous landscape that surrounded me. These views gave me more than enough power to proceed. We were told that the ascent would take 5-6 hours but we made it in 4 because ‘we’re cool like that’. I think Will probably could have made it in 3 hours but I was there to slow him down a bit. We reached Cabanaconde at 9:30AM, bought our bus ticket on the local bus called Milagros, took victory bites of Sublime (a Peruvian chocolate bar with nuts), ate breakfast at a dark restaurant that was playing trashy telenovelas, stretched, and boarded our bus. The bus was packed with people, locals lined the aisleway because their wasn`t enough seats. It was a bumpy, long, and sometimes smelly bus ride but the views were phenomenal (as usual) and I managed to read my book for a bit. We got back to Arequipa around 6PM, took a taxi directly to the Plaza Vea supermarket, bought Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Cocoa Crispies, Milk, and Bananas and headed back to our Hostal Arequipay to shower and then eat cereal in front of the TV like real Americans. It was a victory meal after a wonderful, challenging, relaxing, rewarding trip into Colca Canyon.
Expense Summary (per person)
- Round Trip Flight, Lima to Arequpa: s./360
- Arequipay Hostel, Arequipa, 2 nights: s./ 42
- Fee for Santa Catalina Monastery: s./35
- Trek Snacks from the local market: s./15
- Fancy orange, strawberry, pinapple juice in Arequipa: s./8
- Meaty dinner in Arequipa: s./9
- Tourist bus to Cabanaconde: s./30
- Tourist Ticket (required to trek the Canyon): s./ 70
- Hostal Gloria, San Juan de Chuccho (cama, cena, desayuno): s./ 27
- Hostal Karina, Fure (cama, cena, desayuno): s./ 32.50
- Hostal Yola, Llahuar: s./29.50
- Local Bus back from Cabanaconde to Arequipa: s./17
- Breakfast of champs in Cabanaconde: s./6.75
- Bread/Cheese snack in Chivay: s./3.50
- Cereal Feast from Plaza Vea: s./16
- Meal at Arequipeñan Restaurant: S./22
- Inkan Massage: s./60
Total: S./783.25, $286.38 USD
w/o flight S./423.25, $154.75 USD