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Arequipa – Day Trek to Capua Waterfall

Let’s see.

I left Indonesia last month with the idea of trekking to Machu Picchu, but at the last moment chickened out because of the cold weather (yeah, it’s not a valid excuse, but it is the excuse that I’ve been using, successfully). On second thought, it is actually pretty valid–born in Jakarta, a city at sea level with average temperature above 30 degree centigrade and humidity above 90%, I was surely not made for such weather and altitude.

After the timid decision, however, I kept on meeting people who have done various treks to Machu Picchu: Inca Trail, Salkantay, Lares, you name it.

So, when I arrived in Arequipa, I felt my body was itching for a little bit of adventure….in the most convenient way. That’s when I searched for a day trek. In peruadventurestours.com I found an interesting description for a place called Capua waterfall, which is an original trek discovered by the tour company.

I signed up for the backpacker service, which meant I would be traveling with public bus instead of the private transfer car.

I was picked up in the morning by Jarly, my tour guide, a man in the thirties, then we proceeded by taxi to the so-called bus terminal. Turned out it was not a bus terminal, but a place where the bus waited for passengers. We waited inside the bus for almost half an hour, waiting for the passengers to fill the bus so that the bus driver could ‘feel’ okay to start the journey. It was probably half-full when the driver finally decided to leave. Our destination was a small city near a cement factory in the outskirt of Arequipa called Yura, between 30 minuts to one hour by bus. Traffic was a bit crazy in the morning, but I did enjoy the erratic view of the city, along with the many local people in the bus, signified the real Arequipan life that I wouldn’t see should I sign up for regular touristic tours instead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[The local bus to Yura]

After we got off from the bus, we started to climb a steep hill. This was of course the point when I started to curse myself for satisfying the looking-for-adventure side of me. I was sure Jarly could do it in no time, but he was very kind to stop and checked on me from time to time. I’d warned him that I walked like a snail and he just smiled in understanding. Gee, that must be one of my best days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[My first steep climb–this is Jarly seen from below]

When we reached the top of the hill, there in front of our eyes were these dry never-seem-to-end hills, up and down. The sun was fierce but the wind was blowing quite hard, balancing the heat. As far as we could see, there was NOT a single human being. That alone was a total bliss for my soul.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[Not a single soul. Love it.]

There was no tall tree, just cactus, occasionally. Jarly showed me the fruit of the cactus that people used as juice in Colca Canyon (forgot the name). The taste is sour (right, Jarly?).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[Juice, anyone?]

As a good guide, Jarly also told me about the Inca along the way. I think he was a big part in making this trip a pleasant journey. His passion for adventure and travel was clearly shown during our conversations and I personally think it did make a difference–during this short trip, he was not merely a guide who blabbered memorized stories and intended to arrive at the destination as fast as he could to finish the job quickly, but he was more like a travel companion who made sure I enjoyed the journey as much as the destination.

After walking for about 1.5 hours (I think), we suddenly arrived in a place that looked like an oasis. Right in the middle of these rocks, there was this green valley.

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We walked down the hill and in the valley, until we arrived in a small river. From here, we changed our shoes to sandals and walked IN the river. Ah, my favorite part, soaking my sore toes to the chilling water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[Really, really, loooove this spot! So beautiful and magnificent.]

We walked in the river and had to stop from time to time to climb the big rock that was blocking the way. I must say, the excitement just began for me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[In some cases, we literally had to crawled our way on or around the rock. What a productive day.]

There were two (or three) places where the water fell from above. Too bad I was too busy concentrating on (and enjoying) the walk to take out my camera. I finally took out my camera when we had arrived in the final destination, last waterfall. Here Jarly took out some bananas, drinks and snacks. It was enough for me, but I think it would be better if he brought sandwich to fill the demanding stomach.

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After about half an hour, we had to leave. Jarly said the wind got colder in the afternoon and the water level rose. And he was right. I could feel my foot was dipping deeper in stronger current, and the wind was blowing harder and colder. We finally arrived in Arequipa at around 6 in the afternoon.

All in all, this 2.5 hour walk (5 hours return) was one of the most memorable moments that I’ve ever had, not just because of the variation in the path (dry landscape, oasis, river, rock), but also because of the serenity of the landscape. Listening to the winds while at the same time being greeted by the magnificence of the landscape were memories that I would carry and cherish for as long as I live.

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