The hot mineral water at La Calera is distributed into several concrete pools; unfortunately you don't get to bathe in any natural rock formations. But it's worth the visit if you're body is sore and cramped from the walking and bus rides. Vans with foreign and domestic tourists stop at the pools and are a reminder that the canyon is a major tourist route (and also a vindication of the virtues of DIY travel, since it's hard to sidetrack on an hour walk with a cowgirl when a tour van is waiting).
After relaxing for a bit, I got back on a bus to Cabanaconde at 3 p.m. The journey follows a dirt road on the side of the Cañon del Colca – a slow and jarring ride, though with the steep precipice close to the bus's wheels make you thankful for the slow pace. The canyon itself is dark and imposing, more like two steep mountains up against each other than a vertical carving ala the Grand Canyon.
Along the way are small villages with stone terracing and a lookout spot for condors, which float on air drafts and hunt in the early morning. Farmers got on the bus after a day of working in the fields. The women wear embroidered hats.
I stayed the night for 10 soles ($3.50) in Cabanaconde, a charming and chilly town on the canyon. Any real appreciation for the beauty of the area has to be satisfied with a hike into the canyon, which can be arranged easily at Cabanaconde. The next day for me was a travel day, however, so I was content walking the town's narrow streets in the evening and having a couple beers with the owners of Tequila, a perfectly rustic tourist bar that recently opened.
· Eat, Pray and Eat Some More [Jaunted]
· Dancing in El Carmen and Sandboarding in Huacachina [Jaunted]