Our plan had been simple, take the 6am bus as far as we could then walk the rest of the way to the Catarata de Sipia, unfortunately there was one thing we didn't take into account. The harvest was in full swing and the locals were planning to use the small 30-odd seater buss to transport their equipment out to the terraces that line the canyon walls. 6am came and went as the bus driver and porter loaded countless buckets, baskets and sacks onto the roof of the bus.
Constrained as we were for time (our bus back to Arequipa left that afternoon), we decided to share a taxi with a lady from Lima so as to avoid sitting on the bus for hours and having no guarantee of getting back to Cotahuasi in time for our bus out of the canyon. The extra expense was justified instantly as we zipped down the canyon road towards the hamlet of Sipia.
We parked on the roadside and a small path meandered down towards a steep section of the river gorge. Fifteen minutes later we were stood on an overhanging rock watching thousands of litres of water surge down into a narrow ravine.
Most waterfalls of this scale are fenced off and you rarely get to see the force of the thing so close up. Jelly legs all round as we edged as close as we dared.
Climbing above the cataract revealed the turbulent twisting and thrashing waves fighting to get down the ravine, framed by the rugged canyon walls on both sides.
This section of the canyon is too harsh for human habitation, but the road continued west from here towards more villages beyond.
Our driver and guide was a great laugh, showing us a lesser trodden route out to the back of the river gorge, where we stood on top of a 100m high cliff looking downstream from the main cataract.
Just below us there lay the remains of a car that had slipped off the road traversing 100m above us. A reminder that it doesn't take much for things to come unstuck in the remote places of the world.
This steep rocky area of the Cotahuasi Canyon completed the spectrum of canyon views that we have 'gorged' on in the last week or so.
Back to the road for the drive back home. As we approached the road the local bus trundled past, laden with farmers and their equipment, further justification for the taxi fare.
Approaching Cotahuasi the morning sun broke through over the terraces and paddocks and as luck had it, we were out and back in time for breakfast at the hotel. Though a little sad that we didn't have the time to experience more of the canyon, we were happy with our three days here.