Chivay has an interesting 18th-century church, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, and a bridge with Inca foundations right outside of town that once supported a hanging bridge made of plant fibers. Immediately on the other side of the bridge is the Inca road to Cusco, marked by a path leading up to stone grain stores. On the hillside above are several round Inca storehouses.
Chivay’s main draw, however, is La Calera thermal baths (4:30 a.m.–7 p.m., US$4 for foreigners), which lie 2 kilometers outside of town. There are five hot pools, including two new ones designed for tourists. The first is an outdoor pool at river’s edge, and the second is round and enclosed with a domed ceiling. Both are clean and kept at a temperature of 40°C, though they can become quite packed with travelers during the evenings.
Other hot baths in the area are the riverside tubs at Colca Lodge. They are a half-hour drive away (US$6–12 for round-trip taxi) and are free with the purchase of a lunch or dinner. Otherwise access is US$10–15.
After stargazing in the hot springs, why not head to Casa Andina’s Planetarium (Huayna Cápac s/n, tel. 054/53-1020, www.casa-andina.com, hourly showings 6:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m., US$10) and learn what you were looking at? Nightly shows explain the ancient Andean culture’s understanding of the star-filled Colca sky. The presentation involves both an indoor and outdoor viewing through a telescope.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition