Monday April 2
02.04.2012 - 02.04.2012
Up, breakfasted and on our way by 0800 today as we take a bicycle taxi and are reunited with our bus, drivers Darwin and Willy, and our accustomed seats. Ric and I have had no trouble reserving the back pair of seats (where we can assist as toilet monitors if necessary!). Chris and son Nat sit in front of us, then best friends Clare and Charlotte, couples Judy and Mick, Rosy and Steve, Eduina and Russell, roomies Georgia and Keely, and up front couples Ruth and Alan and Betty and Bernie. Other than Bernie and Betty from Ottawa, Georgia from San Francisco and ourselves, everyone is from the UK and it has proven to be a great group with which to share these adventurous travels. Juan circulates with water refills, and any other assistance needed, and the unflappable drivers keep their eyes peeled up front. With minor changes this order has been maintained throughout our trip - creatures of habit that we are!
So we head back through Juliaca and the near Altiplano until we reach the truningfor Arequipa and the Colca Canyon.I have finished my altitude pills and think I am now protected, but sadly that is not the case and by next morning I will be taking some of Juan's Exodus stash of altitude pills to counteract the effects once again.
We climb to just over 4300m at an Altiplano summit (plenty of higher peaks in the distance to 6000m and more!) - it is quite a foggy and soggy wasteland up here right now - before descending into the Colca Canyon at the small town of Chivay that marks its head. We see to go on downhill forever as the town in at 3600m but eventually arrive at a very attractive and new hotel, Pozo del Cielo ("Well of the Sky").
Ric is feeling somewhat unsettled so opts like some others to hike around the immediate hills (where some old structures are evident), while I go with the rest to nearby geothermal pools. Very hot (the sulphurous water emerges at 60C and is aerated and cooled to 39C in the main "tourist pool") and the whole place is very well organized and attended by staff and police.
Dinner at the hotel and off to bed as we have an 0600 departure tomorrow to drive down the Colca Canyon to see the condors riding the thermals a couple of hours away.
Chivay is within the National Park for the Colca Canyon, so it is very quiet and dark overnight.