They say “it’s all about the journey” not the destination…. and the journey from Chile to Peru certainly proved the point.
We took a collectivo* from Arica in Chile to Tacna in Peru, and were pleasantly surprised by how easily it all went. Just a matter of queuing up to get stamped out of the country, then driving through nomansland and getting stamped into Peru.
Once in Tacna we booked ourselves onto a coach for the 6 hour trip to Arequipa. All of the Cruz del Sur buses (highly recommended) were booked, so we went for our second option – Flores.
The bus was fairly comfortable, but not quite the same standard as Tur Bus in Chile…. we headed up the main highway, passing through multiple police checkpoints and weigh stations…. then about half way through the journey on arriving at yet another checkpoint we noticed a bit of a fuss outside, people waving their arms franticly and police in the distance sprinting towards us waving their arms.
Having heard so many horror stories about bus journeys in Peru our spider senses were tingling beyond all proportion and we naturally put our guard up onto high alert…. Claire pointed out of the front right hand side of the bus
“hey what’s that over there? It looks like a brown river…”
by the time I’d seen it a huge torrent of a river was flowing down the side of the road, taking away most things in its path, as I reached for my iphone camera the left hand side of the road began to get tasty too…. the river burst its banks and started to flood the road in front of us…. OMG what are we gonna do now?
the unexpected river running down the right hand side of the road, and the river on the left just starting to break onto the road…
Seconds later and the road is already almost covered
We waited for a few minutes, but what felt like forever, before the driver decided to push on…..
The river was wild and seemed to be taking no prisoners, as debris caught up in its wake, people struggled from their houses to get to safety
You can see the guy on the far left struggling against the flow of water…
and as we continued further up the road the size and amount of debris increased, so that the bus was literally slaloming up the road to pick out a safe path…
But eventually as we climbed higher the water subsided and the level of damage seemed to reduce, allowing us to relax again and ride out the last 3 hours of the journey.
We arrived in Arequipa shattered and in the rain, so grabbed a taxi to the hostel and fell pretty much straight to sleep!
Phew what a journey and what a start to our time in Peru!
*a collecrivo is like a joint taxi, i.e. you share a taxi with 4 other random people who are all going to the same place, then split the cost – good idea eh!