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Getting Here and Around
You can explore the area by hiring a private guide, renting a four-wheel-drive vehicle, joining a tour from Arequipa, or going by bus. A standard two-wheel-drive car won't do. Arequipa is the jumping-off point for nearly everyone headed to Colca Canyon, and most will either come on a tour or take a bus that stops at either Chivay, the first town you come to, which takes about five hours to reach from Arequipa, or Cabanaconde, about another hour farther. Sporadic combi service links each town in the middle.
Chivay is a four-hour drive from Arequipa. The road takes you through the Reserva Nacional Aguada Blanca y Salinas and over the Patapampa Pass, where at 4,825 meters (15,830 feet) you can view nearly the entire Valley of Volcanoes. The road is paved only about half of the way; going toward Patapampa Pass is dirt, but has been graded and smoothed out. The last quarter of the ride is rocky. Most who visit Colca Canyon experience altitude problems along the way, so bring plenty of water. Some of the nicer hotels will have oxygen tanks.
Taxis are a good way to go from town to town if long hikes or mountain biking aren't your thing. Taxis line up around the Plaza de Armas in Chivay. Most rides will cost S/30-S/55.
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