Arequipa is one of the most culturally diverse regions of Peru, it comprises an extensive history, natural wonders and a great mysticism deeply rooted in its lands. Chivay doesn’t stand too far from this definition since it is a small village located right at the heart of the Colca Valley.
The famous town is recognized for its proximity to the Colca Canyon, surrounded by flourishing valleys, towering mountains and a rumbling river. Chivay is one of those towns frozen in time, where its inhabitants have maintained their ancestral traditions and heritage alive for centuries.
The scenic village of Chivay allows its visitors to get fully immersed in the cultural expression of the region and the exuberant nature in its surroundings. For those looking to travel off the beaten track and getting to know the most unique places in the Peruvian Andes, this is the way to go!
Discover this magical town in the middle of the mountains and get away from the bustling city of Arequipa before heading to Puno or Cusco. Not convinced yet? Here we have prepared a guide to help you organize the best trip itinerary through Arequipa!
Long before the Inca Empire began, the Colca Valley and its surroundings were inhabited by different cultures composed of hunters and gatherers since 5000 B.C. As civilization evolved over time, they started to create new agricultural strategies and systems like terraces and Colcas.
Once the Spaniards gained control over Peruvian lands, all the indigineous communities that lived in the valley were divided into twenty villages and forced to work in the mines. Chivay is one of these Spanish colonies used as ‘indian reduction,’ which is why it has the first Catholic chapel in the region.
Nowadays, Chivay is one of the main travel destinations for tourists looking to visit the Colca Canyon and offers a great infrastructure with upscale hotels and fine dining restaurants. Besides, beyond any touristic service, the energy here is unparalleled to any other place in the region.
The town itself has a mixture of Andean and Colonial architecture, locals still wear their traditional costumes, and most of all, life is slow and tranquil. Therefore, Chivay could be the best option to have a break from the busy and noisy main tourist attractions of Arequipa.
Although the main attraction here is the Colca Canyon, there’s so much more to know and experience in this beautiful mountainous village:
1. Chivay Hot Springs “La Calera”
Whether you’re just spending the day in the Colca Valley or staying for a couple days, a bath in these thermal springs can be as comforting as a mother’s hug. The nearest thermal springs are located 3 kilometers away from the town of chivay.
Here you can choose for indoor or outdoor pools with views to the authentic natural landscape of the region. The water temperature can reach up to 38°C and are believed to have curative properties.
2. Cruz del Condor Viewpoint
This natural viewpoint is located in the highest peak of the canyon, offering an outstanding view of the Colca Valley and, especially of the majestic Andean Condor, the third-largest bird in the world.
The Andean Condor is 3 meters long and barely flaps its wings to fly since it uses the hot air currents to glide, a smooth flight worth watching.
Therefore, to experience this beautiful spectacle, you must visit the Cruz del Condor Viewpoint between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
It is located at 4,910 meters above sea level. From here, you’ll be able to see the volcanoes that guard the White City of Arequipa, as well as the Walka Walka, Sabancaya and Ampato snow-capped mountains.
The Patapampa Viewpoint is located only 40 minutes away by car from Chivay, it is an easy day trip or a strategic stop on the way to Arequipa. If you’re visiting the region and have the opportunity to stop here, you’ll have sweeping views of the authentic natural scenery of the region.
4. Colca Canyon
Considered as the world’s second-deepest canyon, it is located in the Arequipa countryside, bordering the colca valley, and has a depth of 4,160 meters. The Colca Canyon is home to the third biggest bird of the world, the Andean Condor.
Likewise, this natural wonder receives over 300,000 visitors per year due to its authentic scenery that surrounds it. There are different ways to visit the Colca Canyon, either you take a trek or a traditional tour, this will be an unforgettable experience.
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Chivay is located at 3,635 meters above sea level, which is why it is usual to see travelers experiencing dizziness, tiredness, headaches, and shortness of breath upon arrival, particularly if flying from low-altitude destinations. Make sure to follow these recommendations that will surely help you avoid and deal with altitude sickness:
- Keep yourself hydrated. Water is the best ally to fight and prevent this condition.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking at all costs. Alcohol is dehydrating, and smoking can worsen or cause shortness of breath.
- Eat a light but high-calorie diet. High altitude increases the need for fuel since you get dehydrated and burn carbs faster.
- Drink Coca tea or chew Coca leaves. This is a medicinal plant of the Andes, known for helping to ease any altitude sickness symptoms and improving acclimatization.
- Take it easy. Don’t commit to a physically demanding activity on the first 2-3 days upon arrival.
There are some medicines that can help with any altitude sickness symptoms. You can find Diamox or Soroche Pills in almost any drugstore in Peru, nonetheless, we highly recommend consulting with a doctor before taking any of these medications.
As you already know, Chivay is located in Southern Peru, about a 3-hour drive from Arequipa. If you’re looking to explore northern Peru, we have structured the best travel itinerary for you, make sure to check it while you’re here.
Luckily for you, we have structured the Colca Canyon tour so you can experience everything at its fullest. If you’d like to add this attraction to your travel itinerary, make sure to contact our team while you’re here!
Would you like to uncover the mysteries of Peru? Check our travel packages and start planning the trip of your life while you’re here. Our travel specialists can help you organize the best trip itinerary while optimizing your time and experience according to your interests!