If you are living in Peru or coming to this country for at least one month then you should definitely visit Canyon Cotahuasi. This canyon is one of the deepest in the world (with the depth of 3535m).
As we took three days off we decided to do the trekking in this canyon. We heard many times that it’s a very traditional place with no tourists at all. As all the tourists go to Colca Canyon (it’s closer), almost nobody goes to Cotahuasi.
We had our own tent so we were quite autonomous. The first day when we arrived at 5 am, we decided to camp just near the entrance to the canyon, not far away from the bus station. Unfortunately, we didn’t read a lot which way is the best to take for the trekking but we asked local people and they recommended us to go to Alca – a village situated about 25km from Cotahuasi. We had quite a few stops on our way that you can see from the photos:
First stop was Laguna Chaquicocha – 1km from Cotahuasi village
Then we walked about 3 hours to Tomapampa village, where we found a shop!
On the way we met a lot of local people who were so friendly. Nobody knows us but everybody is saying you ‘hola!como estan?’. Even small children! And, people didn’t say anything when I was taking them photos (while normally, in the touristic places, native peruvian ask you for the money). It was quite funny because each time we met some local people on the road, they were asking us where we go and most important- Why you don’t take a bus?! They couldn’t understand that we just want to walk 😉 Apparently, for them the kilometers that we made were too long and tiring because of the heat…
Finally we arrived to Luicho- our goal of the day as it was a place where there were BANOS TERMALES (hot springs). After 6 hours of walking it was the best what we could wish for! 😀 Luicho is situated just 30 minutes on foot from Alca. So next day in the morning we headed for Alca and then we took the local bus to go back to Cotahuasi. Why? We wanted to go to Catarata de Sipia (Sipia waterfall) which is the other side of the Canyon (direction Quechualla). We went there also on foot and it took us about 2,5 hours from Cotahuasi (about 13km but you go down mostly all the time). There are also buses if you don’t want to go there on foot (approximately every hour you can find a local bus that costs you about 1 sol).
Most important information about Cotahuasi:
How to get there?
You take the bus from terminal terrestre in Arequipa. Buses leave everyday in the evening, from 5pm to 7pm. The bus companies are Reyna (which I don’t recommend- the tv in the bus is so so so loud that you can’t fall asleep and it lasts till 1 am.), Cromotex and Alex. The price is 30 soles one way. The bus drive lasts about 8-9 hours so the best way is to get the last bus at 7pm from Arequipa and then you arrive in Cotahuasi about 5am. Unfortunately, the last bus leaves Arequipa at 7pm…
From Cotahuasi to Arequipa is the same. There are only buses during the evening, the same hours as to from Arequipa to Cotahuasi.
Where to eat?
If you go to Alca, there are local restaurants in evert village (Tomepampa, Luicho, Alca)- you can eat very very cheap! We got the chicharron de calamares for 10 soles! However, if you go to Catarata del Sipia you NEED to have you own food with you as there are no shops, no restaurants on the way.
All the photos taken by Nicolas Castermans and Izabela Handerek
Don’t hesitate to check our travel agency in Peru: http://www.alpinca.pl