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Peps and Pete Travels "On pleasure bent again"

Canyons and Condors

PERU | Wednesday, 21 March 2007 | Views [1406]

Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world, a mere 163m shallower than its near neighbour Canyon del Cotahausi which is a bit more difficult to get to. In order to visit the canyon, we headed from Puno towards Arequipa, Peru´s 2nd largest city.

We had planned to spend a few days in Arequipa, but then heard from other travellers in Guatemala that it was a pretty dangerous and dodgy city. So, we lengthened our time in Cusco and cut time from Arequipa. Big mistake, as we did not find the vibe at all dangerous or dodgy, and infact would have loved a day or two to have a real look around. But it can´t be helped.

We did however go to an incredible museum, one which has the remains of the frozen, mummified child sacrifices that the Incas made to the gods (found under the snow of the surrounding volcanoes). It sounds a gruesome place, but it was really well put together, and highly informative. The children were always perfect (as in unblemished in any way, even to the point of teeth cavities...), under 15 years old and generally royalty. They believed that on their death they would join the Gods, and as such were placed in fetal position once they had been killed. It was a pretty interesting place.

From Arequipa we joined an overnight tour of the Colca Canyon. It can be done in a day, but apparently that takes 15 hours, which is not something that I can handle... Driving from Arequipa towards the canyon we went through some of the most spectacular terrain. Huge white rolling hills partly covered in a really scrubby grass dotted with catus plants. You know when you learn about Tundra in primary school? Well that is what I always thought tundra looked like, in fact, maybe it was tundra. The soil is a distinctive white due to the volcanoes, many of the locals use the white rock to build their houses. It makes for an interesting sight.

On the drive to Colca Valley, we passed above 4900m, our highest altitude thus far, from there we descended back through the baren white hilles and into the lush colca valley. This valley eventually becomes the Colca Canyon, which is over twice as deep as the Grand Canyon! We stayed in the village of Chivay, lazed in the local hot springs and then (cringe) partook of the local dancing. It was a bit touristy to say the least, but we had fun, and I guess we are tourists no matter how much we try to deny it! There are a few pics, but they did not turn out very well.

We had an early start to get into the Canyon - our destination was Cruz del Condor from where we hoped to spot, you guessed it, Condors. We did see three far below us in the valley, but it was really misty so we only saw them for a second. We were lucky though as on our way back to chivay we saw about 7 to 10 circling. I got a few pics, yes that speck is a Condor. Sadly my trusty camera does not have sufficient zoom to show them really well!

On the way back to Chivay we stopped in the tiny village of Yanque where I met the Llamas Bob Marley and 15 day old Princess. Princess was so soft and fluffy, and Bob Marley... well he was as you would imagine, full of dreds and pretty chilled out! I was also accosted by a little girl who took my hand and led me around for a while. At first I thought that she was showing me the sights which were relevant to her 3 year old self, but alas, she just wanted lollies. I am cruel, but I didn´t get her any... and she would not let me go! She was so cute, but I had no money on me! 

Unfortunatley a bloke from the village had captured an Andean eagle and people were paying to have their pics taken with the eagle. We heard that the birds are endangered and the Lonely Planet as well as common sense dictates not taking pics with the birds as it encourages the locals to catch them. It was a pretty sad sight especially when people who should know better were queueing for a picture, although the bird did at least look healthy, but not free... Extremely small consolation!

Colca canyon was an amazing place, and we got to see Condors which was our primary motivation for going on the tour! Plus the scenery was breathtaking, and not just ´cause of the lack of oxygen in the air at 4900m. Canyons and Condors, well worth it!!

Tags: Adventures



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