In the little town of Yanque we were met yet again with calmness and relaxation. We were presented with the opportunity to enjoy life as it comes and in the same time take a break from our busy itinerary in Peru, even though it is a plan we have designed ourselves. Without proper rest it is impossible to enjoy life to its fullest.
The question is how we got there. By bus would be the prosaic answer, through memorable experiences, would be the poetic one. The road from Arequipa to the Colca valley was full of those.
Slowly leaving the city, passing through the poor neighborhoods and construction sites at the edge of town, the landscape slowly shifted to dry mountain views.
We knew that our chance to see vicuñas or the less tame llamas and alpacas was highest here. And we were not disappointed. Several times whole herds crossed the road. The little vicuñas took a moment to stare at the weird moving vehicles until the voice of reason (their parents) urged them to cross faster.
I was very impressed with their carefree gait at that altitude, they always live at 3000 m. above sea level. We were already heaving after 10 minutes when we stopped at the highest point of our journey – a peak of 4910 m. Even the refreshing tea of coca couldn’t bring the breath back to our lungs. That is why we lingered only for a moment. On the way to the peak we received a lot of information from our lady- guide concerning the way of life at this altitude. At the same time we contemplated the amazing landscapes, which unfolded outside our windows.
|Mirador de los Volcanes – our personal altitude record so far|
The day among those quirky animals, known to us only from the circus, is in full swing. Several turns away from the quaint little town there is a market, set up by local women. Among the colorful weavings a baby alpaca showed its head. How can you resist buying a bottle of milk to feed the youngling?
To make the contrast more pronounced, we met a modern miracle of technology, a Google Street View car which was going the opposite way, retracing our steps.
And so, we arrived at Chivay, the place we planned on spending the night in the middle of our two-day trip from Arequipa through Puno to Titicaca.
We had lunch and continued on to the next village Yanque at an altitude of 3400 m where we were about to spend a night in a villa. That afternoon we settled in and went out for a walk along the valley of the river. From this high up you can see all kinds of weird bumps and indentations, used as coffins and the terraces above the river. While we were heaving along the steep paths to the ruins, the local guide gave us plants and herbs to taste, leaving us wondering what kinds of greenery we were eating… The best part of the tasting process was the cactus fruits. They were delicious and also free, as we were picking them straight from the cacti. Some parasitic species on the cacti can be used as lipstick dye or for other strong paints.
After the three-hour hike we plunged in the mineral hot springs. We soaked in a mix of chemical elements good for the skin and welcomed the dusk.
Clean and hungry we strode down the long path to the village and our villa. After a hearty dinner we spent a delightful evening in our big and beautiful room.
In the morning we replenished our strength with a breakfast, even larger than our dinner, and we greeted the rising sun.
The day was marked by the constant presence of birds. It isn’t a coincidence that the books about birds in Peru are several inches thick. Our day started with a festival of the village, where kids and adults in folk costumes danced to the loud sound of music.
In the next village we posed for photos with semi-tamed condors. In the end we took a bumpy ride with the bus through the most backwater roads of Peru on our way to special spots for observing the flying condors, like Cruz del Condor. Deep canyons and glorious birds.
The bus went on along the road to Puno, the town at the waterside of Titicaca Lake. The road looked like something out of a fairytale or a film décor – at times you can see vicuñas crossing or a lake full of flamingos. The local landscapes didn’t let us rest and gave us hope that artists will be inspired by the beauty of nature for generations to come.
We reached Puno at dusk. It is the town with the highest altitude in our journey. It is so high that two people used oxygen bottles to breathe in the lobby of the hotel. We were exhausted after a short walk and ate next to nothing for dinner.
This article was brought to you in English by Marta Petrova.
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