including Colca Canyon trip
29.05.2007 - 01.06.2007 19 °C
Tuesday 29th May
Whilst always pleased to arrive safely after a bus journey, this wasn't the most comfortable for Paul and he didn't sleep too great. Also, his ongoing and regular colds have affected his ears this time and is in a little pain as we descend from the altitude.
Arrive at the crack of dawn, but pleased to be met and taken to the accommodation a few minutes away by taxi.
Checkin to the Home From Home hostel (50Soles a night, with apparently 'huge' breakfasts, though we'll not get that until tomorrow) and crash out for a couple of hours after the bus journey.
Late morning we venture into town, first noticing how much warmer it is here. Very pleased about that, though would be happy for a few more degrees.
Track down Cusco Coffe and enjoy a pretty good Frappucino, then find a small chinese restaurant and have an excellent feed.
Again, the day following an overnight bus usually leaves us pretty tired, so quite an easy day and an early night.
Wednesday 30th May
Yes, the breakfast was good - pancakes, bread, scrambled egg, juice, tea/coffee.
A quick go on the free internet before heading into town to get info on Colca Canyon tours, though manage to get a good deal through the hostel for tomorrow.
Visited the interesting convent of Santa Catalina in town. It was opened to the public in 1970 after 400 years as a cloister. The convent has been beautifully refurbished with period furniture and paintings. Behind the closed doors the nuns, daughters of aristocrats, paid little heed to the vows of poverty and silence. Each had her own servant and dined with porcelain plates, fine tablecloths and silver cutlery.
The convent is a complete miniature walled colonial town in the middle of the city. There are flower filled gardens, spacious patios, granite fountains as well as arches and narrow streets. The tile-roofed buildings are painted in traditional white, brown and blue. About 20 nuns still live in a section of the convent, which once housed up to 500.
Didn't expect such an interesting visit, very pleased we went along.
Grabbed some late lunch after, and enjoyed some happy hour cocktails in the early evening.
Pack ready for tomorrow, we 'll just need to take a day bag for our one night/two day trip out to Colca Canyon.
Thursday 31st May
Picked up just after breakfast, and our journey towards Colca takes us across the desert and back up into higher altitude, Paul's ear giving a little pain until it unblocks itself.
Nice views as we shoot on in the minibus - lots of snowcapped mountains/volcanoes. Stop for a short while at the Mirador de Los Andes, where we see many 'cairns', which are small piles of rocks given as offerings to the mountains.
At Chivay, the small town where we'll be staying, we start with an 'okay' buffet lunch (not included in the trip, though tonights accommodation is) before being dropped at our room. Whilst there's a dozen of us on the trip, we all stay at a handful of different accommodations - clearly a couple of folks have upgraded and it seems that the accommodations decline as we drop people off - we're last!
Actually, it's fine, though the room is pretty chilly now, so not looking forward to tonight!
We have a couple of hours to ourselves before being picked up and taken to the nearby hot springs for a soak. Not much happening in town - a small market, a small but pretty square. Public toilets here seem to offer a little more choice than usual. If you're just looking to urinate, that'll set you back 30 cents - anything more than that and you're clobbered for 50 cents. It's pay on entry, so what do you do if you're not sure???
At 4pm we're whisked the few kms down to the pools and it's nice to get into the hot water, though there's quite a few folk here. We're warned that you should only spend an hour in the water, so stick to the rules and we're back in town for 6pm, and hang around for dinner, which is a group thing at a nearby restaurant that has some traditional dancing.
Panic a little that we don't have much money, but just scrape through and pay for dinner, though nothing left for treats back at the room.
We're heading on to see the condors early tomorrow morning, so everyone heads home for an early night. Interesting dances, though similar to what we saw in Cuzco.
Chat with Emmanuel and Elani from Sweden through dinner.
Friday 1st June
Crikey, only 1 full month left of this year trip - time's been flying lately.
Though, actually, it's too early on the day to realise the date, it's 5am, and breakfast is in 30 minutes.
A little chilly out of bed, but the shower is roasting. Breakfast basic but fine to get us going.
Minibus picks us up and we start the journey out towards the condors, though we first stop in a small village, where there's a surprising amount of activity for so early in the morning, even someone trying to get a loudspeaker working.
At the condor site, we stop short of the car park area to enjoy a walk along the canyon edge - see some pretty 'green' birds along the way, though we're all in a little rush as we can see a couple of condors at the main viewing point, and they're said to only hang around for 15 minutes.
At the viewing point, with crowds of others, we get to see plenty of condors, swooping above and below as, out over the canyon. There's a few gaps of nothing but enjoying the views and relative silence, but the condors perform for us over a couple of hours. A really majestic sight.
On the way back towards Chivay we stop at a couple of viewpoints, Chris gets to try some Cacti fruit.
Spent a little more time in the small square before the few hours drive back to Arequipa, and a pitstop at Cuzco Coffee.
More travelling tonight, more overnight bus action to Nazca. A little annoyed at the hostel - we had booked the bus ticket though them, but surprised that they had charged us 10Soles 'commission' for booking it. Pretty steep at nearly 10%, where any other hostel where we'd booked a tour or bus ticket was charged at face value. A bit of a rip off, and we could easily have booked the ticket in town for no extra charge.
Hang around at the hostel for a while, repacking our bags and charging cameras.
The taxi comes to pick us up for the short ride to the bus station, though a small panic when we find that there's some road blocks and, in turn, more traffic being funneled through the remaining routes.
Thankfully the taxi driver gets us there in a hurry, though drops us off at the wrong terminal for buses to Nazca. Unable to find the company we're travelling with we soon find out that they are 'over there' and we run with our bags to the adjoining terminal. No panic necessary, they're running a few minutes late, and we have plenty of time to board and get comfy. We seem to have gone VIP and have a small section at the front of the upper deck with only 6 seats. Nice, should be a comfortable night!
continues on next thread....