15 November, Saturday - Day 19

Bus from Cabanaconde to Chivay. Visit the Hot Springs

Despite the roosters being busy at 5 am, we managed to sleep to 7 am. Hostel had free continental breakfast. I decided to splurge and order a scrambled egg for a dollar. Back to Achachigua overlook to watch for morning condors. We see one. It just popped out of nowhere and circled a few times before disappearing. Saw a couple of lizards that were too quick to identify and plenty of swifts (cernika) flying around to keep us company. We stayed for a couple of hours and then had to head back to check out and catch the 11 am bus to Chivay.

Having nothing better to do we sat in the town square. We watch passengers disembark from a fancy tour bus. One older lady getting off is planning on doing the Colca Canyon trail but needs hiking poles. Hopefully, they can get her some as the hike is supposedly difficult.

The fancy bus operator talks us into taking his bus to Chivay for 5 soles. It’s a private tour bus and the people onboard know the rules -- they recite faithfully that there’s no poopy on the bus. The bus has air conditioning so there’s no dust blowing in through the windows. However, the bus driver appears to be very confident. He drives fast. He only slows for the two streams in the road and the two tunnels. We pass another bus on the road that had left 40 minutes before. We pass mountain bikers. They need googles to keep the dust out of their eyes. All the little colonial towns in the valley have archways without walls to show the entrance to their town.

We get to Chivay and the bus stops because there’s a parade. Then we’re out of Chivay. Whoa, wait a minute we needed to get off at Chivay. Driver tells us he is going to the Hot Springs to drop off the tour for an hour, then the bus goes back to Chivay for lunch. Oh well. We need to change our plans as we originally thought we’d have lunch in Chivay and then go to the Hot Springs. We have lunch at the local vendor stand at the hot springs. Rusela got the alpaca chicharrones (deep fried alpaca pieces) with black potatoes and I got the pan fried trout with white rice. The bus driver also gets some food from the stand. Rusela tells me a man passing by warns her that we’ll be sorry for eating off the street. After I finish eating, I get off the bench I was sitting on and it collapses on the lady who was sitting on the other side. Oops.

Most of the bus tourists are just hanging about as they don’t really have enough time to do the hot springs in an hour. There are several pools and certain ones are reserved for tourists only. The locals tell us that their pools are not very hot.

Typical area dress

The grounds has a museum and a suspension bridge to Inca colca ruins.

Colca Canyon is named after the colcas which were the Inca storage areas. My understanding is that the Inca’s never tried to swim rivers; they always built bridges.

There’s indoor and outdoor pools. Even though the air is cool, we opt for the outside pool. This is my first time at a hot springs and I find it nicer than a hot tub. The water doesn’t even smell of sulfur. The water is very warm at 85 degrees.

hot springs

We have the pool all to ourselves. (Photo courtesy of camera's self-timer.) It’s not cold at all to sit halfway out of the pool. Now I know how a Japanese Snow Monkey feels. Rusela notes that I had taken locker # 50 same as my age. I hadn’t noticed that. We spend 3 hours at the hot springs. A few tourists come and look at the pool and even feel the water with their hands but don’t go in. Perhaps bathing is a lost art.

A taxi wants 5 soles to take us from the Hot Springs to Chivay. The price seems expensive to me. We get to our hostel in Chivay but no one’s there. The store owner next door calls the hostel. Appears the manager had gone to the bus station to wait for us there. Having taken a private bus, we bypassed him. Checked in and walked over to the artisan market. Bought an embroidered vest. Couldn’t budge the seller much from her price of 65 soles. Ended up paying 50 soles and $3. Nearby restaurant featured half a cuy for 12 soles. Thought this might work as I wasn’t too hungry. However, the owner explained they would have to kill a fresh cuy to make the dish. No, thanks. Quinoa soup sounds just fine for dinner.

Planning ahead for Nasca. Looks like we need to take an overnight bus as the trip is 10 hours so we won’t need accommodations for Arequipa. The hostel manager bought our bus tickets for Arequipa for tomorrow. There is a sign posted on the door in our room which explains the dangers of befriending and taking food from strangers.

Next Day

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