Surrounded by some of the most impressive and intensive ancient terracing in South America, CHIVAY, 163km north of Arequipa and just four hours by bus from there, lies at the heart of fantastic hiking/mountain biking country. It also makes a good base if you want to go whitewater rafting on the Río Colca. Arriving at Chivay by road, a new tourism checkpoint issues standard, mandatory Colca Boleto Turisticos (general tourist tickets), which cost US$12 and offer "free" entry to the Mirador Cruz del Condor, other main miradors and all the major churches in the valley.
Chivay is bustling with gringos eager to use the town as a base for exploring the Colca Canyon either in the traditional way, by bus to the Mirador Cruz del Condor, or, more adventurously, by mountain bike, kayak, raft or serious trekking. The town has a growing range of accommodation, restaurants and bus services for these visitors, making it a reasonable place to stay while you acclimatize to the high altitude. Serious trekkers will soon want to move on to one of the other canyon towns, likely Cabanaconde.