Up, Up and Chivay

We took off north out of Arequipa toward Chivay. Our guidebook says it’s a bumpy 4 hour drive.  The lady at our hostel said it was all paved (we think). Not far out of town when the road turned to rocks and dirt, we just shrugged and kept going – this is sort of normal for us.

This road was one of the worst we’ve encountered in a while – all the junk on our dashboard flew five or six inches in the air on several occasions.  It was almost funny, but the aches and pains of traveling this way without a proper head rest or an ergonomic seat get to you.

After about two hours on this road, we came to a fork with pavement going 3 directions:  Colca Canyon (our destination), Puno,  and back to Arequipa. Ahh, so there’s the paved road*.

At this junction we were waved down by a police officer who looked generally confused. Where had we come from? Really? He shrugged it off, said something we didn’t catch and pointed us in the right direction. We later learned that we were supposed to stop and pay a fee for driving on National Reserve land, but we managed to do without.

Now that we were on the paved highway to Chivay, we thought we’d make up some time, but the climb slowed us down. At one point I know I could have walked faster than Red Beard was climbing.

Just before the hail started, Jason got out and adjusted the carbs. We were running much better just in time for snow, and our highest pass yet at 4900 meters (~16,100 feet)!

We saw all three Peruvian camelids (llamas, alpacas and vicuña) out in the wild. The vicuña are either endangered or close to it, depending on your source.

We also saw our French friends Fred and Regine boondocking right in the middle of town. We wanted to find the local hot springs before dark, so we urged them to come along and find a more tranquil spot to sleep. Only a few kilometers out of town are the La Calera hot springs.

We could camp in the parking lot for free and entrance to the hot springs was 10 soles (about $3 USD).  They had pool-side service and there was quite a scene going on. We went down for a nighttime dip, a few drinks, and met some more good folks – mostly Aussies on a 3 week tour. We’ve seen several tour groups in southern Peru – after not having seen, well, any the rest of our trip.

After a cold night’s sleep, we headed right back to the hot springs (they open at 4AM!) to warm up and plan our day. The kids played** while we made the easy decision of just following along with Fred and Regine for the next few days – they already had this area all figured out.

*when leaving Arequipa, you should head northwest towards Yura to stay on the paved road. It looks like a longer route, but your joints will probably thank you for it later.

** Bode has also turned into the DJ. Current top-two on his play list: Jim Croce’s “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” and ZZ Top’s “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide.” I think I spot a trend – time to update the MP3 player.

9 thoughts on “Up, Up and Chivay

  • April 19, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    Hi folks;
    Hows that VW heater working? What’ s the temp…It looks really cold up there!
    I got my aux. gas heater in the bus working this winter, and boy, oh boy, what a difference…it’s actually toasty warm now.

    BTW…great photos as always.

    Bode, ya need to add some George Thorogood…’Bad to the Bone’ to that mp3 mix.

  • April 19, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Camping and hot springs in the gorgeous landscape in Peru for the price of a Starbuck’s coffee… I mean, I love my coffee, but please – no contest!

    Thanks for the great travel inspiration. We can’t wait to get there ourselves!

  • April 19, 2011 at 7:08 PM

    Don’t worry too much: bumpy roads don’t feel that much better on Ford F250 seats, as these seats are made for big bums and don’t provide any side support.
    And regarding speed: we drove from San Pedro (Chile) to Salta (Argentina) together with 2 German friends, who traveled in an old Nissan pick-up camping vehicle. They said up the pass (our highest) they were overtaken by butterflies!! A picture I’ll never forget.

  • April 19, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    Je veux un T5… Je suis vert de jalousie.

    Here’s your first French lesson.

    Happy Trail!

  • April 20, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Jim- the heat was ‘on’ the entire trip, but we never felt a thing. Angela froze. I’ll be inspecting the heating system in the next few days and try to make some improvements. All suggestions appreciated 😉 What kind of aux. heater did you get?

    Juergen – if there were butterflies up there, they probably passed us 😉

    Ghislain – two years of French classes (25 years ago) and I remember almost nothing. C’est la vie?

  • April 20, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    The heater was an ‘option’, in my 78 Champagne Ed. Westy..the Bn6. (I think it was ‘Standard’ in Canadian models) After years of having mechanics say…I’d forget about fixing that old thing…no parts, fire hazard.. etc. I found a burned wire and blown fuse hidden behind the front kick panel. Replaced those, and viola…heat!
    Faster heating up than in Colleen’s 2001 Honda Accord!

    So, and I have considered this a few times on big steep narrow roads…what do ya do if it won’t make it up the hill? Had a very close call on a narrow road on the Salmon River in N. Calif. a few years ago…doing about 2-3 mph up a hill…no where to turn around…steep cliff…Yikes!

  • April 20, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    Yippie… even higher than our trip in Ecuador! I’m not sure Red Beard could go much slower than our excursion up the mountain. Hope the elevation sickness stayed away! Any pictures of the Vicuna? Miss ya!

  • April 21, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    Wow! 16,000 feet. That’s amazing. Sorry for using “wow” so many times. I can’t think of a better word to use though. 🙂

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