(note: This drive took place on August 14th 2015)
The drive from Puno to Chivay usually takes around 4 hours, but with the hop-on hop-off bus and all the scenic stoppages, it took 6 hours to arrive at Chivay. We stayed overnight at Chivay since the next day, we would explore Colca Canyon (Cañón Del Colca). The bus ticket, the full-day tour of Colca Canyon and the drive from Chivay to Arequipa the next day were arranged by Majestic Tour, the same agent that arranged our train and entrance to Machu Picchu.
Since it’s a packaged tour, they sub-contract our transfer from Puno to Chivay to a bus company namely 4M Express. At 6:30 in the morning a woman collected us and asked us to wait at a bus station while she collected another passenger in a nearby locations. After all passengers were collected, we were ready to depart to Chivay.
There are 3 main stops along the way from Puno to Chivay. First one is Laguna Lagunillas, then Pampa Canahuas, and the last stop is Patapampa before arriving at Chivay. We did stop at Laguna Lagunillas where the wind was quite hard and icy, but the view was outstanding. Buuuutt, we didn’t see any Andean flamingos as indicated in the pamphlet. We passed another lagoon though (not sure if it’s still part of Lagunillas, or a completely different lagoon) and saw some Andean flamingos, but we didn’t stop right there.
On the way to the second stop, it was snow storm outside. Everything went white on our left and right side until we arrived at Pampa Canahuas, part of Reserva Nacional Salinas Aguada. The view was so amazing, with lots of valley, mountain. Here we stopped for a quick drink and snack. Until that moment, I felt rushed by our tour guide. Each stop was very rush and she didn’t give any tolerance whatsoever (which I understand). The lesson learned here is that it is way better to explore the road from Puno to Chivay by driving on your own, or by a private tour. It was one of the best road trip with mesmerizing view and joining a hop-on/hop-off bus will not give you ample time to grasp the beauty of the landscape. I remember four of us felt grumpy after the journey and disappointed because there were so much to see and sooo little time.
After the lunch break, we continued to Patapampa, this is the highest point between Puno and Colca canyon (Chivay). In this area, we can see snow-covered mountains spread across the horizon, from Sabancaya, Ampato, and Mismi. We can also see the mountain range of Misti and Chacani. The side of the road where we stop was full of piles of stone stacked by visitors which represent their wishes for protection, health, and permission to enter new places. The stop felt so short back then. With such a view, I needed another 1 hour, not 10 minutes.
We arrived at Chivay around 12:30 and ready for the next journey. The minute we arrived at Chivay until the next two days, we had our trip arranged by majestic tour (a private tour). Our guide Frank and the driver had awaited us to deliver us at the Hotel. We stayed at La Posada del Colca. The hotel is close to the plaza de armas with 7 minutes walk.
After we took shower and rest, we continued to the hot spring. It wasn’t in the La Calera hot springs, but in the Umaru Aquas Termales. The facility has several pools in different level. And the lowest level hot pool has a view overlooking the colca river, although the view wasn’t immediately available, i had to bend over to look down. Having experienced blue lagoon in Iceland, I would say that the facility was an okay. If you like to warm yourself for a while, it may help. But don’t expect a fancy hot spring facilities.
After the trip to Lake Titicaca, i felt the trip to Chivay a bit winding down from there. I would say that Lake Titicaca was the climax of the trip in Peru.