Andres wakes us at 4:30am for our 5am departure.
Andres is worried about the mule arriving on time. It seems the mule driver is coming from Cabanaconde, exactly where we are heading too. It is considered a 3 hour hike up with a break at each hour.
It is still dark when we head out so we are using our headlamps for the path. This path is narrow and rocky and we have to be careful of falling rock.
Andres puts Olga and I in front of him pulling the mule with Magpie. It is not an easy go with how rocky the path is. Luckily my knee is not a factor. There are times when Magpie has to get the mule going and Magpie learns the right way to go up on a mule without falling backwards off the mule.
It is an amazing sight watching the sun come up over the canyon. The pink sky increasing as the shadow slowly descends down the mountain to the canyon floor revealing new sights of folded rock formations, memorial to people who have died, all as the canyon comes to life.
Now we worry about mule trains coming down and not being pushed off.
It also seems that Magpie’s mule has a friend – another mule – that insists on being in front of me and not moving on turns. I now spend my time keeping this lone mule moving….until a mule train comes.
Luckily we are at a curve which provides more space when this 4 mule train descends. Due to lack of room for two mules to the side, my lone mule gets forced back down and is now leading the mule train. And so it goes on the trail.
This time Olga is the one farther ahead and gets to the top before us. We have actually done a 3 hr climb and made it to the top by just after 8am.
Once again the view is incredible with the sun now totalling embracing the canyon with an intense blue sky.
Everyone is taking pictures of their respectful group.
Magpie has to give up the mule now and we hike into town which is a flat hike now through the fields.
We have breakfast in town and catch the first bus out, but the bus will include some sightseeing stops on the way.
In Chivay we stop for lunch but go to a different place, a buffet, but this time it is very nice with many choices of traditional peruvian foods. We thoroughly enjoy it with ceviche, papas, chi cha moranda drink and pudding.
One of the small towns in the Canyon with a beautiful white church. Washrooms and showers for a nominal fee are here. People can also try the Pisco Sour, the national alcoholic drink.
The bus stops for one hour for anyone to partake in the hotsprings for S./15. We hang around and explore around the area instead.
The highest point with the road at approximately 4910 m. It is definitely cooler and windy. The landscape is surreal with no vegetation just these rocks all over. Around the viewing area are mini rock formations that the locals create for blessings. All the peaks are labeled with how high they are.
Unfortunately at this altitude the sickness hits a few people, we are not affected. Olga is affected again and another chap is hit even harder with vomiting.
We arrive back at approximately 5 pm in old Arequipa. We say our goodbyes to our guide and head back to the hostel. Olga is not feeling well and is worried about packing and getting her bus in the morning to Puno. We have one more day in Arequipa until our bus leaves for Cusco.
I would highly recommend Andres as a guide at www.peruviancolcatrails.com