After my crazy fun birthday night, I slept for an hour and then headed out to jump on a 2 day tour to Colca Canyon where I’d see condors flying around in their natural habitat. I used Colca Tours to book this tour but I wouldn’t recommend them. If you do use them, be sure to get the name of your lodging prior to the trip along with their address and phone number. Also, confirm whether or not you will be picked up at your hotel for the hot springs tour in Chivay and at what time. Most, if not all, tour companies book you on the 4m tour. This means you will possibly switch buses at a rest stop when you stop for a snack on the way to/from Chivay. Find this out when you book your tour so you aren’t confused when it happens. Since I didn’t know about any of this, I spent a good part of the two days being confused and a bit stressed. I like routine and am not really fond of surprises. Tell me who, what, when and why and I’ll be a happy camper.
Anyway, the bus was on time and had a friendly tour guide. As is typical, a small bus picked up everyone in Puno, but what was surprising was that the little bus took us all the way to Chivay. We made a few stops at Lake Lagunillas and at a volcano viewing site, Patapampa. At the viewing site was also a place where Peruvians stack rocks and make wishes. We also stopped to see spindly legged animals, Vicunas, and a huge lot of llamas in Pampa Cañahuas.
Upon arrival in Chivay, I was personally escorted to find my hotel since the tour operator didn’t tell my tour guide where I was staying either. Chivay is really tiny so I think no matter where you stay, you’ll be in a decent location. Although, some of the nicer hotels might be on the outskirts of the main center. Fortunately, my hostel was just off the beaten path so I only had to walk a few short blocks to the center which had a nice park, church, food, etc. Since you only spend one night in Chivay, you really don’t have to splurge on anything more than a hostel with heat and hot water. Although you if you shower properly with shampoo and soap at the hot springs, you can do without the hot water as well! My hostel was located off of Av Siglo xx a block or so past the college, down one of the blocks to the left. Of course I can’t remember its name to recommend it. 😦
With the tour, you arrive in Chivay in the early afternoon. This gives you plenty of time to have lunch, people-watch in the park, take some pictures, walk down the pedestrian only street with the statues and shop the market. The market in Chivay is more for locals than tourists but you may find something interesting. You can also partake in lots of street food if you so desire.
The hot springs bus picked me up around 4pm. It was a short ride to the springs. There you are given a free locker and access to showers and changing room. There are several tubs to choose from – both indoor and outdoor. They give you about 45 minutes to spend at the springs which is plenty of time. Make sure you remove all your jewelry prior to going to the springs as the water will damage the metals. I advise only using the outdoor springs. We had to switch to the indoor one after a violent thunder-hail storm suddenly started and it just wasn’t as good.
After the springs, you are dropped back at your hotel and you have just enough time to shower, go out to eat dinner and come back and pass out as by this time, you are going to be exhausted and not want to do anything but sleep!
This is a great site for more details on this area of Peru. http://www.stoyanpanayotov.com/3/post/2011/11/from-chivay-to-puno.html