This route from Arequipa – Colca Canyon – Valle de los Volcanes is recommended when one goes to the Valley of the Volcanoes and can visit the National Reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca and the Colca Canyon; In addition, it allows better acclimatization, especially if you spend the night in the Colca Valley.
The road passes through Yura or Cabrerías, depending on the interest of the passengers, then crosses the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve and the Cañahuas and Toccra pampas, where it is possible to stop to contemplate the cave paintings of Sumbay, of about 6,000 years old.
On the way you can see groups of vicuñas and herds of llamas and alpacas, as well as some wetlands with abundant high-Andean birds. Passing through Patapampa (4,800 masl) you can see the main volcanoes in the area –Misti, Ubinas, Chucura– and the Chila mountain range, where you can distinguish Mismi, Hualca-Hualca, Sabancaya, Ampato and Chachani. The trip covers about 160 km from Arequipa until reaching the town of Chivay, capital of the Colca Valley.
Next, it heads through the canyon towards the Valley of the Volcanoes, starting from Chivay in the direction of Sibayo and passing through the town of Tuti, 20 km away. At the height of the Sibayo bridge there is a detour that leads to Caylloma.
Another possibility is to pass Tuti and take a detour through RanRan in the direction of the snow-capped Mismi, whose summit is the source of the Amazon River. Although this route is shorter, it is only for 4×4 trucks, as it is a simple trail. From there it continues towards Caylloma and connects with the Caylloma-Arcata highway at the height of the Caylloma mine.
Sibayo (3,800 masl) is an interesting breeding area for camelids, as well as being the best-preserved town in the Colca Valley, with its houses built with river stones, boulders of various colors, thatched roofs, and a beautiful colonial church.
Although the main square and the municipal premises have been modernized, the architectural style of the town has been preserved.
We continue ascending towards Caylloma, passing at the height of Monigotes, by the Hornillos river. This route leads to a large ravine with extensive bofedales, where you can see numerous herds of llamas and alpacas and even some wild vicuñas.
Before crossing the bridge that leads to the town of Caylloma, there is a detour to the right, which crosses the Apurimac River and leads to the Sukuitambo mine.
The path continues through a beautiful canyon until near Yauri, Espinar, an area where the Tintaya copper mine operates. On the banks of the Apurímac there are dozens of large round stones or the remains of several sugar mills, which was the name given to the colonial mills used to pulverize minerals.
Caylloma (4,319 masl), about 90 km from Sibayo, was a very important center for mining activity, and became the capital of the Caylloma province at one time. A few kilometers from the town is the famous colonial mine of Caylloma, from which silver is extracted to this day.
Leaving behind the detour to the Caylloma mine, at the height of the Huarhuarco River, you can see the snow-capped Mismi (6,037 masl).
The road advances over the mountain range, between 4,400 and 4,800 meters above sea level, and you can appreciate the typical altiplano panorama, many herds of llamas and alpacas, wild vicuñas, vizcachas and some ducks in wetlands or bofedales and small lagoons.
Then take the detour to the new Ares gold mine and see the Carhuacocha lagoon below. A short distance from the detour you can take the path to the left, which leads to Orcopampa. By the route to the right, in the direction of the Arcata mine, which has an important production of silver, you can reach Ayacucho.
After 195 km from Chivay and a descent from 4,500 to 3,800 masl (approximately six hours of travel) you reach the town of Orcopampa, where the Valley of the Volcanoes begins. The route passes through Huancarama, a place that offers some comforting thermal baths.
The town of Andahua is 387 km from Arequipa via Chivay and the route takes about nine hours. If you prefer, it is possible to travel directly from Arequipa to Sibayo, shortening the road by about 50 km.