Overnight bus from Cuzco to ArequipaÂ on Julsa for $12.Â The trip took 9 hours.
We arrived at 5:30am.Â We made a reservation with the hostal Tambo Viejo.Â They said they would be at the bus station to pick us up.Â We waited for 20-30 minutes before we decided they weren’t coming.Â Then we took a taxi to the hostel.Â It took a while for the lady to answer the door and it looked like we surprised her by our arrival instead of her being sorry for forgetting us.Â
Â www.tamboviejo.comPrice -Â $16 with bathÂ and cable.Â
Cleanliness â€“ The rooms were very clean.Â The common living area seemed a little cluttered. Comfort â€“ The rooms in the back were very comfortable.Â I should know.Â I was sick, so I had to lay in bed for 24 hours straight.Â They are doing construction in the front, so those rooms were very loud. It is on a very busy main street, so it doesn’t seem that secure when you first walk up, but we didn’t have any problems.Â Â
Character â€“ The courtyard/gardens were a nice place to have breakfast.Â They had a really cute friendly dog and a parrot that says â€œholaâ€ and barks.Â
Amenities â€“ supposed pick up from the bus station, cable TV in the rooms, an old computer with Internet downstairs and an internet cafe right next door. Supposedly they will help arrange tours and travel stuff, but no one was ever at the desk to do that.Â We ended up using a tour company in town.Â Breakfast and snacks are available to buy.Â If you arrive before check in time and they have an open room, they will let you use it until your room is available.Â
Recommended? - This is a tough one.Â The room was very nice.Â It was a good place to be sick and I loved the dog, but there were a couple of down sides that might make me look for somewhere different.Â The people who ran the place seemed very scatterbrained and disorganized.Â Like I said, they forgot to pick us up.Â They rarely manned the front desk and they tried to charge us twice for the first set of nights we stayed there because they didn’t keep good records.Â Â Â Also, it was just on the too far to walk side of things from the main plaza.Â Arequipa has an amazing plaza and down town area.Â It would have been nicer to be within walking distance.Â Â
Â Since I was sick, we didn’t do much.Â It took a lot of energy just to walk around.Â The Plaza is beautiful, so it is nice just to eat or have drinks in one of the balcony restaurants.Â We also visited Santa Catalina.Â It was very interesting, but without a guide, we just made up what a lot of the things were for or what the significance was.Â We were there for an hour and a half and still hadn’t seen everything.Â It did start to get repetitive, so we left without seeing all there was.Â
Colca Canyon Tour
We went into a couple travel agencies to ask about tours and eventually picked one where the lady spoke clear Spanish and explained everything well.Â It turns out they are actually recommended in Lonely Planet Peru, but I lost the brochure with their name.Â I know they are on Santa Catalina Rd.Â a block up from the Plaza de Armas on the left hand side.Â Here are what the tours entail.2 day tour
We payed $23 each including guide, transportation, and hotel with toast for breakfast.Â Entrance to park($12) , hotsprings($3) and meals were extra.Â There were other price categories from $33-73.Â The only difference was the hotel.Â
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Get picked up from hotel around 8:30am.Â Depending on where you are on the list, this could take up to 30-40 minutes.
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Drive to a little store to use the bathroom and buy coca candies etc.
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Stop at a few vista points including to see the vicunas (llama relatives)
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Stop for a bathroom break where they have a little craft market and cafe.Â This was actually my favorite part because I got invited to play catch by 4 year old girl who was supposed to be posing for pictures for the tourists with her little llama, but she was not interested in that nonsense.Â She just wanted to play.Â We had a great time for about 15 minutes.Â
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Stop at the highest point on the mountain.Â Over 4000 meters
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Arrive at Chivay and eat lunch at an arranged location where they had a buffet ($5) or menu.
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Drop everyone off at their respective hotels and have 2 hours for resting or walking around Chivay.
(Our hostel was the cheapest option and cheap it was.Â The bed speads had stains all over them.Â The window had a 2 inch gap in it making an already cold place that much colder.Â The door rattled with the wind and the pillows were hard as rock.Â It did have its own bathroom, but no seat on the toilet.Â I didn’t take a shower.Â It was too cold, so I can’t comment on the hot water it was supposed to have.)
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Pick everyone back up to go to the hot springs.Â
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Return everyone to the hotel to get ready for dinner.
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â At 7:30 go to dinner at a mediocre restaurant with a great folkloric presentation of music and dancing.
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Wake up at 5am to leave at 5:30 to make it to the canyon by 8:30.
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Stop to see a church in a little town along the way
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â It is very cold at the canyon.Â Wear very warm clothes.Â You basically sit on rocks for 1-2 hours waiting and watching for the birds.Â It is early, so the sun can’t really warm you that well.Â
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â After we saw the birds, we went on a walk/hike for about 1 Â½ hours along the edge of the cliffs.Â It is beautiful, but by that time the day is getting warmer and the movement means you will want to shed some of your layers.Â
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Drive straight back to Chivay for lunch
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Drive back to Arequipa with shorter stops at the same places for bathroom breaks.Â
We had a good time on the trip.Â We met some great people and saw some beautiful scenery and birds.
I realize that was pretty detailed and long, but I went into detail for 2 reasons.Â 1.)Â Â We really didn’t know what the tour would entail before we left, so that made planning what to wear and bring a little difficult.Â I also didn’t realize that it was over 5 hours of driving each day and so the vehicle the company has is very important.Â Ours was not the most comfortable in the world.2.)Â Â I enjoyed everything we did, but if you don’t have that much time, I thought of a way to fit in both Arequipa and the Colca Canyon trip.Â Don’t go on the tour first thing in the morning.Â Stay in Arequipa and do whatever you want until about 4pm.Â Then take public transportation to Chivay where you can meet up with the group in time to see the Folkloric show in the evening The bus goes on the same route both ways, so the only thing you would miss would be the hot springs which were fine, but if you are short on time, they could be missed.Â Â
We stayed at Tambo Viejo one more night and then left the next morning at 7:30 for Puno.Â Â