Arequipa is situated 2398 m above the sea level, and we are going to reach Chivay, going through Pass of Winds situated 3650 m. On our way we visit Indian village where you can drink Mate De Coca or buy a traditional woollen hat or a jumper. We also met a very companionable lama that made us laugh a lot.
Colca Valley is about 100 km from Arequipa. On the border of Arequipa there are seven volcanoes, Mismi (5597 m), Cutiti (5063 m), Bomboya (5200 m), Hualca Hualca (6025 m), Sabancaya (5976 m), Ampato (6310 m) and Ananta (5100 m). At the bottom of the valley there are 8000 hectares of gorgeous preinkanian terraces with a subtle irrigate system. Every single bit of the ground is used; flat slopes are wider than the steep slopes.
On our way to Chivay we pass 3 natural levels: QUECHUA 2500-3500m, SUNI 3500-4500m, PUNA above 4500m. Our guide tells us that on the first level we will only see cacti, as there are no animals!
La presencia de tres regiones geográficas naturales del Perú, variedad de microclimas y zonas de vida ecológicas: Quechua, Suni y Puna a más de 4500 m.s.n.m.
Later on we see lamas and a lot of plants. We stop again to admire all the beautiful views and that is when I think to myself I’m scared of heights, but luckily there are coca leaves to make me feel better. We get to the wind pass, nearly 5000 metres. All around us there is an unbelievable amount of apachetas. Anyone can build one from all the stones that lie around and leave there something for the mother Pachamama – Mother of Nature. Usually people leave something precious such as Coca leaves. While building it you can pray to the Pacha mother with your own intention, or as gringos say, have a wish.
Chivay welcomes us with a few dressed up lamas. In Quechua, Chivay means love, so we are entering the city of love. Unfortunately the love was quite expensive there; we had to pay 35 soles per person to enter the park. In the evening we went to La Calera – hot baths full of calcium and iron! The water coming up from the ground can even be up to 85°C hot! It was amazing! We met a group of Polish people who bought their trip in a travel agency, and for 18 day they have paid the same amount of money as we did for 5 weeks!
Later on in the evening there was a traditional dinner cooked for us and a dance show. We walked into a hall full of tourists… and thought it wasn’t something we wanted to see, so we tried to explain to our guide that we are going somewhere else, but she got a little bit upset... but we really didn’t want to spend a whole evening with tourists… As we walked around the town we heard some music noise. As we followed the noise we got to some school where people were having dance rehearsals and they didn’t mind us staying there and watching. Robak has even got up to dance with them!
Today we are going to Cruz del Condor which is 3450 m above the sea level. On our way up we stop a few times to take a look on all those beautiful views. We also visit Yanque where we go to see an old church with baroque exteriors. On Plaza de Armas there are a few Indian girls dancing for tourists.
The view of one poor skinny girl holding a rag-doll and all the beautiful mountains are very sad. This contrasting image will be in my mind for the whole journey. Peru – incredibly beautiful country, but exploited by white people to some extent, firstly all the gold was stolen, then all the culture changed, Catholic churches were built, finally, from copper mined in slave conditions for Western concerns.
We was on a road that was going through the valley, so the views were excellent once again and I couldn’t take my eyes away from the car window…Unfortunately during the rainy weather it is not so beautiful… all of the views are covered by dark clouds and I wasn’t able to see a lot.
That’s all about the most important place. The name Cruz Del Condor comes from all of the condors flying around and some of them can be up to 3 metres wide! All of the local people were amazed by the condors so much that they have made them their symbol. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the condors nor the canyon. The canyon is a lot narrower than and twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in Colorado, USA. What was interesting about it was that it was explored by Polish people in 1979! Next time I will be there I will spend my whole day there and go down the canyon to see it better.