“I was very keen to trek in Cotahausi Canyon, an isolated area 8 hours travel by bus from Arequipa, and well away from general tourist attractions. I had contacted many trekking companies from Arequipa and Cusco but most were only interested in taking me to Colca Canyon, a popular and closer option. Through Bookmundi, I was lucky enough to contact James Mackender, Unu Raymi Expeditions, who was willing to look into the possibility of arranging flexible trekking options for me from the township of Cotahuasi, in Cotahuasi Canyon. James also organised the guide from Arequipa as well as accommodation, meals, bus and plane fares.
I travelled with my guide in a bed bus from Arequipa to Cotahausi and at 5:00 am the next morning we caught a collectivo to start the first trek. All travel to the distant little villages in the Canyon was by local collectivos and the guide used his knowledge of the timetables to catch the collectivos on their return journeys. Travelling with local people was an extremely interesting glimpse into everyday life.
One morning we caught a bus at 3:00 am to travel to Puyca to walk up to the Wari ruins high above the village at the Archaeological site of Maucallacta, 3925 metres: such a peaceful, pre Inca site high up against the heights of the Canyon overlooking ancient terraces that swept down to the bottom of the valley. There was even a stone bathing area that we recognised as an Inca addition.
Cotahausi Canyon is extremely beautiful, remote, diverse and unspoilt with many interesting attractions to walk to including the impressive tall Cactus Forest and Sepia Falls. One very cold morning we travelled to a village called Huaynacotas high up on the sides of the Canyon. It had snowed the night before and a volcanic crater and the ridges above the snow line were dusted with white. After walking along the ridge road to enjoy the view along the canyon, we took five hours to walk on a narrow track down to the river and then on to Luicho to splash in the local thermal pools.
Cotahuasi Canyon is an amazing place to trek and I am very grateful to James and my guide that I was given the opportunity to have such an authentic experience.”