I really enjoyed my tour of the Peruvian Amazon and reluctantly went back to my little room in Arequipa. It took several hours just to unpack and do the laundry from the trip—everything I had brought was wet and mud splattered. And I don’t have access to a washing machine, so I hand washed all my clothes! In the air of Arequipa, they were dry in no time!
I needed to unpack and then re-pack, because I only had five days to prepare for the next tour—the Grand Tour of Peru, hitting the big highlights: Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, the Nazca Lines, Colca Canyon, Lima, Cusco……15 days of new discoveries. I was lucky that I could arrange to start and end my tour in Arequipa, saving me a couple unnecessary (and expensive) plane tickets. It also meant that I could just bring one suitcase and leave the things I wouldn’t need in my tiny rented room.
On October 2, I moved from my rented room to a modest hotel room near the Plaza de Armas in Arequipa. That afternoon, I had a walking tour of the city, including the Santa Catalina Monasterio (convent). But the guide was just passable and I’ve already shared photos of all the sights we visited.
The next morning, I boarded a tourist bus to Chivay and the Colca Canyon, roughly 100 miles and arguably the deepest canyon in the world. These photos are from the bus trip.
After we left Arequipa, we headed for the mountainous area of Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve. Our bus climbed up steadily from the elevation of about 2,300m to over 4,000m at a popular tourist service station at Patahuasi, where coca tea or muna tea (a type of local mint) were served. Many on the bus were showing symptoms of high altitude sickness, from stomachache to terrible headache. I did fairly well, except when walking up hill. Then I panted like I was working hard, though I wasn’t.
One stop on the trip was to take photos of llamas and alpacas. There was a young boy caring for the animals and the guide asked us to tip him if we took any photos. I really wonder if that child gets any education. While the law says that a child should be in school, that doesn’t mean it always happens. He made no attempt to ask the tourist for money and only a few of us offered him a few coins.
After the tea and souvenir break, our bus continued to ascend the highlands above 4000m in elevation, passing by a number of scenic highland wetlands and reaching the highest pass of Patapampa at 4900m.
Next we entered a protected wildlife area and I got to see small herds of vicuna.
At Patapampa, there was a brief stop where we could take in the magnificent mountain views of a number of volcanoes, one actively smoking for us. This is rarefied air, higher than anything in the Rocky Mountains. The Mirador de los Volcanes is something to see, if your red blood cells are up to it.
After Patapampa, our bus gradually descended to the mountain valley of Chivay at 3600m. Before reaching Chivay, we made a final stop overlooking the valley. We walked over to the cliff edge to photograph the scenery of Chivay in a distance.
I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I'm exploring the world and you can come too!
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