The village of Chivay, at 3,652 meters, lies where the main road to Arequipa meets the Colca Valley. It is the traditional base for exploring either the valley or the canyon, though it has become a bit touristy in recent years.
Chivay has the best-equipped clinic (with a laboratory), and it’s the police and mountain rescue headquarters.
Chivay’s new bus station, with good bathrooms and snack shops, is a five-minute walk on the outskirts of town. Empresa de Transportes Reyna (tel. 054/53-1014), Turismo Milagros (tel. 054/53-1115), and Transportes Andalucia (tel. 054/53-1106) bus lines all have routes to Chivay for about US$7.
Once in Chivay, colectivos for the thermal baths leave when full from the main square (US$1, 15 minutes)—or a taxi costs US$1. Colectivos also leave from the main square for the Cruz del Cóndor (US$25 round-trip); a private taxi for up to four people is US$30. From Chivay, colectivos also leave frequently for villages on both sides of the canyon.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition