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Colca Valley

Written on: Saturday August 25th, 2007

A journal entry from: Bolivia, Peru, and the Galapagos!

We drove from Arequipa into the Colca Valley yesterday driving through Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca on the way. I think that the reserve was established to protect the indigenous camelids (llama, alpaca, vicuna, and guanaco). After about a five hour drive (including stops) we arrived at the town of Chivay, the biggest town in the Colca Valley, for a quick wander around. Then we continued on for about 15 minutes to the town of Corporaque where we would stay for the night at the Hotel Mama Yacchi. This hotel was by far the nicest we had stayed at thus far, which should have set off alarm bells in our head.... more about that later...

After settling into our hotel and taking a nap we returned to Chivay to relax in the hot springs. The hot springs here were outstanding!! We stayed in the warm, sparkling clean water for more than an hour (probably longer than is safe, but it was soooo nice). After the springs, six of us (all but Larissa and tall Sarah) and our local guide (but not our tour leader) went for dinner at a place that also offered a pena (a traditional folklore dance and music show). The food was cheap (though not very tasty) and the dancing was entertaining. At one point, they encouraged audience participation during a story about malaria. Richard and I both were pulled out onto the dance floor individually to be given malaria and then we were tossed on to the floor where we were supposed to shake violently while our local dancer fanned and whipped us (or in the case of male victims, the female dancer sat on his face!).

We all had an early night to get ready for our early wake up call today. We had been promised a trek into the canyon and condor viewing... But in reality, we all woke up early and drove for two hours to join 200 tourists on the side of the road to view condors on the edge of Colca Canyon (the second deepest in the world... the deepest is nearby). And after the condor viewing, we drove directly back to Arequipa along the same road we had drove in on (the road actually makes a loop that we could have continued on). Most other young fit tourists get to enjoy a trek through the canyon, but it turns out that our tour leader had decided to scrap the trek in exchange for a nice hotel stay instead without consulting any of us. As a result we arrived in Arequipa early in the afternoon and had little to do to entertain ourselves. What a disappointment....