Peru Update #8 — Canyon Hike

ChivayOur intrepid Peru travelers apparently didn’t get enough hiking in to Macchu Picchu, so they planned to hike down into a spectacular natural feature called Colca Canyon.  Colca is noted for its beauty, and also for a lovely oasis at its bottom that awaits the weary hikers.  Market on way to Canyon This canyon is near the town of Chivay, which offered a lovely gate and some very rustic roadside markets that were, literally, on the side of the road.  The tale of the canyon hike itself is best told by students.

Samia writes:

We arrived in the late morning after getting up very and taking an extremely long bus ride to where we believed the start of our hike down into the world’s second-deepest canyon would start.  We began striding down along one apparent route, but soon discovered that this was a false path.  Confused but relieved we hadn´t wandered too far, we tried a more prominent pathway arching down.  Trail MarkingsThe arrival of a local woman was a relief to us all, for we still felt unsure of our way. She told us that she had been waiting for us in the next village where our hike actually began. Our emotions spoke of gladness, though a stroke of annoyance poked through.  Mostly we were happy, because the road we had mistaken as ours was a three day walk to our destination!
Start Hike in CornfieldsWhen we finally started our hike down into the depths, the sun had already reached top of the sky and beat down on us.  The path is composed of innumerable switchbacks, and there is no protection from the heat anywhere on the path.   The sun and heat became an issue we had to struggle with.  We tried to keep up with our guide, though this was difficult at times.  He was used to this work, whereas we clearly weren´t.  The rocks were dry and sandy.  Many of us slipped repeatedly, nearly falling onto the hard rocky ground.
Partway DownCacti and rough grasses sprouted up all along the path.  In places a kind of butterfly bush with small delicate lavender buds made  the air smell fresh and sweet.  This smell stood out up above that of our sweat and it was nice to stop for a quick rest and sniff the air.  We marched on the point of what I believe was true exaustion, but were rewarded by the many sights and perspectives that lay waiting bellow.


Anna writes:

Oasis HomeBeing tired and sweaty, I was excited for the luxuries the oasis had to offer.  Upon arrival we were not let down.  I dropped my pack in front of a lovely pool, and sat down beside it to catch my breath and take in the surroundings — there were palm trees and gorgeous flowers everywhere!  I was super excited to explore after a rest and a snack of a delicious fresh avocado.

OasisWandering around the grounds, I found hammocks, bungalows, a volleyball net, and a feel of total relaxation waiting to happen.  Once the slower hikers arrived at this paradise in the middle of nowhere, we went to eat lunch at the restaurant.  An hour  and four courses later, we were all content — the soup, main course, tea, and dessert had all been fantastic. We no longer needed to worry about the fact that the food was part of a package deal, because it was simply amazing!

Oasis Schoolwork DayOur subsequent meals continued to be fantastic, and in total, everything about the oasis made up for the arduous hike in… and the impending hike out.  We thoroughly enjoyed the pool, and our bungalow was comfy and wonderfully lit by candles.  It was a delightful rest day!

Samia writes:

Though the scenery was quite the same on the way back up, we left early, and had a cooler experience. The sun hadn´t made it up over the cliff’s edge, and we were well on our way before it spotted us. The experience was just as exhausting for me as the way down, not because of the heat, but because of the constant incline in the path.  It felt like a never ending “up.”  Sweat from the physical exertion sliped down all our faces.  The droplets collected themselves like wet mustaches above our lips.  With each step I left more of the path behind me, and no matter how sore my mind told me my legs were, I made it to the top along with all of our group! Starting Hike Down

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