Into the stunning Colca Canyon
Starting the day with a good breakfast will set you up for the day’s adventure ahead, your guide meets you at the hotel with your driver, this is a small shared tour with just a few others for company, sharing the experience can in a lot of cases add to the enjoyment. Your Peruvian Secrets guide speaks good English and has studied for many years to be knowledgeable on everything you will see and experience. Departing at approximately 7.30am you join the vehicle for the 100 mile (160km) journey out of Arequipa climbing into the Andes with stunning views of distant volcanos, your guide will explain all you can see to you and answer any questions you may have. Having taken this tour myself many times, I know the difference a good guide can make, they make it fascinating with information that extends beyond what you can see. During the journey you make several stops at places of interest for photos and to learn more rather than just driving past looking out of a window, a refreshment stop is made to use the toilet and buy drinks if required, these are more traditional stops and maybe not the restrooms you are used to, but just look at where you are. Climbing to nearly 5000 m.a.s.l you make a short stop at the highest point and may even get to play in the snow! From here you descend to the small town of Chivay at a more comfortable altitude of 3,600 m.a.s.l where we make a short stop before continuing to the small village of Pueblo de Coporaque, here you check into the comfortable and more traditional style accommodation called, “La Casa de Mamayacchi”. After you settle into your room a buffet lunch is provided where your guide joins you to explain all you will see and do while in the Colca. After lunch you have a range of options to enjoy, a visit to the local thermal hot spring baths is a favourite, remember to take a towel and bathing suit with you. Alternatively, you can take a short hike with your guide (depending on how you are feeling at this altitude) or just relax and explore on your own. The hotel offers a warm fire to sit by in the evening and Wi-Fi is available to catch up with your social media or go through photos. Most decide to take an early night as tomorrow is a very early start.
Entering the Colca Canyon – continuing onto Puno
Today’s tour into the Colca Canyon requires an early start in order to see the majestic Peruvian Condors as they ascend out of the canyon on the first thermals of the day. Joining our vehicle, you drive into the Canyon following the river that helped shape one of the worlds deepest canyons, on the way stops are made at some amazing viewpoints. Here again the quality of your local guide makes all the difference, I had an amazing seen busloads of People turn up and just take photos with no explanations from guides, I cannot help thinking how much they missed at this point.
Cruz Del Condor viewing point
A special viewing point is provided in a location you are most likely to have excellent views of the impressive Condors as they circle their way out of the depths of the canyon, here you need wait for the birds to appear but it will not be a long wait as they start to appear. Afterwards you can take the short walk along the side of the canyon, this offers beautiful views and often you get to see more families of Condors as you pass, you have the option to join the vehicle and take the drive to the waiting point if you prefer to not walk. Returning to Chivay you make further stops at places of interest on route, in the town you can take an early lunch before you re-join the vehicle for the afternoon’s drive to Puno on the shores of the Great Lake Titicaca.
The road to Puno
The journey to Puno is another long ride, taking approximately 6 hours you will however make a few comfort stops, unfortunately there is no alternative other than to return to Arequipa and take a flight. Arriving into Puno you will be taken to your hotel and meet your local guide, here you can check-in and refresh before meeting your guide for a short briefing. As it will be the evening your guide will be happy to escort you out to a restaurant or just help you familiarise yourself to this new destination. You are now at 3,800 m.a.s.l and will appreciate the time spent acclimatising on the way, again avoiding alcohol at this point will help to avoid any problems. Your next adventure awaits so a good night’s sleep and you are ready to discover the size and beauty of the wonderful Lake Titicaca.
Part 4 What to do on the Lake? Follows.