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Kat & Andrew's Worldwide Adventures

Colca Canyon & Cusco, Peru

PERU | Wednesday, 7 December 2011 | Views [1089]

Colca Valley – Despite our delay, we still managed to make it on our Colca Valley tour. We were collected first thing in the morning and along with a bus full of people (such are the unfortunate joys of mass tourism….) we hit the road. We stopped many times along the way to help acclimatize as we were climbing to the elevation of 4900m. We stopped at a road side café to have coca tea to help also.


Along the way the scenery was spectacular. We passed barren rocky deserts – yet they still had power lines – and saw mini twisters whipping up the dust, wetlands inhabited by lamas, alpacas and vicuñas (deer - camel like creatures), basic farming but with flash water irrigation systems, rugged volcanos and mountains in which we had a sweeping view at the highest point I had ever been at on land. Luckily we didn’t get altitude sickness but I felt a little short of breath and a bit tired. Finally we arrived in the quaint little village of Chivay for a late lunch.

Afterwards we were dropped off at our hotel in the tiny country town of Yunque and a local girl took us for a walk. We had the option of going on a 3 hour hike but Andrew wasn’t feeling up to it and we were still very full from lunch so we took the half hour option to the hot springs. We walked down pebbled pathways lined with boulders and rock walls, passing donkeys and many dogs. We were surrounded by glorious hills with farming terraces built into the sides creating the effect of a giant’s steps. Back at the hotel, our lovely room was situated in a remodelled horse stable. We were practically dragged out of our room to watch some young girls swirl around in circles in traditional dress, and afterwards of course, we were asked for money.


The next morning we were up at 5.20am for breakfast and then we were back on the road in the bus. We visited a few little town squares and churches which was full with indigenous women holding grey eagles and cuddling lamas asking for money to pose with them. I understand that this is the way they make a living but I have to admit I really feel sorry for the eagles being exploited like that. The llamas are domesticated and they aren’t being put on people’s heads so it doesn’t seem like they are quite as uncomfortable. We stopped at a few different viewpoints for the Colca Canyon. The Canyon is the deepest in the world at 4160m and it was very neat to see, but it is nowhere near as stunning as the Grand Canyon – no competition. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see it at its deepest point. Originally we had wanted to do the trek into the Canyon for 3 days but the cost proved too expensive. We waited for almost 2 hours to see the Condors which are the largest wing spanned birds in the world and are in the vulture family. Of course once we were back at the bus one decides to appear, but ah well, at least we got to see it briefly!  (Check out our photos on world nomads or facebook of the fascinating landscapes).

After another lunch in Chivay we began the 3 hour drive back to Arequipa. Even though the trip was short, and a lot of it spent in the bus, it was worth it to be immersed in the traditional Andean culture.

Then we had to spend 10 hours on yet another overnight bus to Cusco. The bus had the volume on full bore blasting 90’s dance hits. Then they put on SAW, which isn’t exactly appropriate viewing for children being a R18 gory thriller movie… they realised their mistake 20 min into it (screaming and all) and put on a painful love story instead (in Spanish of course). They left the lights on all night, turned the air conditioning off and then the cabin filled up with road dust so we had to cover our faces with blankets to stop us from breathing in the thick clouds. As always there is limited leg space which is uncomfortable, especially for Andrew’s long legs. We arrived at our destination at 6am absolutely exhausted and got bombarded with people trying to get us to go to their hotels or in their taxis. We ended up in a taxi that I was rather dubious about but fortunately we arrived safe at our hostel (which we did pre-book this time).


Our room wasn’t ready as the people weren’t due to check out until 11am. I couldn’t stand the thought of having to wait that long so we were given another room after negotiating the price (in Spanish, hopefully I did it correctly!) and had a glorious 3 hour nap. Once we awoke we explored Cusco’s beautiful cobble stone and walled narrow streets. (Those stones are quite slippery in jandels!!) The ancient buildings are delightful and the streets are full with indigenous people in full color as well as large amounts of fellow gringos for a change! It’s quite odd hearing English everywhere again. The only down side to this lovely town is the desperate locals trying to sell you things (the most common being massages which is so damn tempting) and the inflated tourist prices for EVERYTHING.


I started my Spanish class today. 5 hours a day for 3 days. I don’t know how much it will improve my knowledge in such a short amount of time but the practice is valuable. We’re working on grammar, doing written assignments, and having conversations solely in Spanish to help my confidence speaking and also to help me understand someone asking me questions in Spanish. I’ve even got home work!!

Class is from 8am-1pm and afterwards Andrew and I are preparing for the Inca Trail. We went to our briefing yesterday and I am very excited yet slightly nervous about how challenging it will be. The altitude leaves me breathless on small hills at the moment so 8 hours walking uphill with a backpack is going to be quite the work out, but so very rewarding. The total trek is 43km spread out over 4 days. Wish us luck!!!!



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