“The journey not the arrival matters” – T.S. Eliot
In some ways the journey from the ‘White City’ of Arequipa to the Colca Canyon is very much in line with T.S. Eliot’s quote and is one of the most spectacular in Peru. Throughout the journey to the Colca Canyon you will be rewarded with incredible views that form this dramatic landscape in Southern Peru. What is for sure is that you will not be able to take your eyes off the scenery and when you do finally get to the Colca Canyon you will be greeted by further untold beauty! Travel with us as we make this magnificent trip from Arequipa to the gate of the Colca Canyon.
Three Mighty Volcanoes
Leaving the colonial city and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Arequipa behind, it won’t be long before you get an idea of the range of vistas that lie ahead of you. The majestic El Misti volcano that forms the backdrop to Arequipa is one of Peru’s most active and well-known volcanoes.
Looming 19,100ft. above Arequipa the almighty volcano with its perfect, snowcapped cone is thought to have had a religious significance for the Incas which have led to it being featured in both legends and poetry.
Flanked by the third largest volcano in Peru, the Chachani volcano as well as the Pichu Pichu volcano make the beginning of your journey from Arequipa simply stunning and treat your eyes to a spectacle which you could not have dreamed of!
Caves of Sumbay
As the road begins to climb up to the Cañahaus National Reserve you’ll come to the small town of Sumbay, which is located at a lofty 12,470 ft. Make sure to have your coca leaves handy or enjoy a warm cup of coca tea whilst admiring your amazing surroundings. This National Reserve is home to the rare and wild vicuña that roams the slopes and plateaus of the Andean Mountains and which is protected by Peruvian Law due to its very expensive, high quality wool. As well as these exceptional animals, there are the historic caves of Sumbay where you can admire the cave art of some of the first humans to inhabit the highlands of Peru.
Featuring more than 500 paintings and engravings the main Sumbay cave drawings are thought to be close to 8000 years old!
You will be able to see detailed rock paintings representing shamans, lamas, deer, pumas, guanacos and vicuñas and scenes portraying the numerous hunting expeditions. Stepping out of the cave you will be able to see the perfect, untouched Peruvian countryside with herds of alpacas roaming freely along with vast sculpted rocks of varying colors smoothly mixing together in the gullies of the valley.
The gateway to the Colca Canyon
The town of Chivay lies in waiting as your journey from Arequipa draws to a close at the gate to the Colca Valley. Around the central market area and main square, you will be able to catch glimpses of the brightly colored, hand-woven and decorative clothing worn by the local Colca women as they carry their produce to or from the marketplace.
With its authentic highland identity, Chivay allows you to experience and explore the traditional lifestyle and culture of the Altiplano Peruvians.
Pockets of enchanting views of the surrounding snowcapped peaks and terraced hillsides can be enjoyed as you walk along its quaint streets. Situated at the entrance to the Colca Canyon, and close to surrounding points of interest such as the Cruz del Condor, the Choquetico viewpoint and smaller Andean villages like Maca, makes Chivay the perfect base as you delve into the Colca Canyon.
After any journey, what could be better than relaxing in nearby natural hot springs in an awe-inspiring setting. The upscale natural hot springs at the Colca Lodge are designed not to interfere with the surrounding habitat using the thermal sources that emerge from the banks of the River Colca to heat these hot eco-spa pools.
The relaxing hot springs of the Colca Lodge will ease you into a state of nirvana on the banks of the River Colca making these hot springs perhaps the most beautiful in Peru.
There is no better way to finish off your day of travel than to unwind in the pure, natural bliss of this eco-spa before preparing yourself for the days ahead in the fantastic Colca Canyon.