Monday, 10 March 2014

Condors of Colca Canyon

Colca canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world - twice the depth of the Grand Canyon and second only to another in the same national park in Peru.

We'd been told that the 2 day trek was the best option to see (tackle?!) it. It's also famous for its condors and I was looking forward to seeing them!

We started at 3am from Arequipa - heading to the park for breakfast - we weren't impressed to be walking for 4 hours on just bread & jam though....

After breakfast we stopped at Condor point - usually prime viewing for the condors - but the heavy cloud cover kept them away. We fared better once we had started our descent into the canyon and the sun had burnt some of the clouds away.

Condor point - you can see the clouds filling the canyon

Just below the clouds - we could now see what we had left to tackle!

And the condors came out! The adult ones are black with white markings and the young are brown. Their wingspan can be as large as 3m and they are some of the largest birds on the planet.

Spot the condor?!

We took our time on the descent - you can't walk and take pictures at the same time else you'd fall off the cliff face path!

We also had to make way for mules & donkeys carrying people up/down the mountain.

Our trail was the main way the people in the villages below get in and out - makes you appreciate how difficult it must be when everything has to be carried in and out.

We eventually made it down to the river for our lunch time stop and the traditional food or soup followed by a meal with dual carbs - in this case rice and chips.

It was a pretty stop - I was amazed at the geraniums everywhere!

In the afternoon it rained on us mostly - hence the space hopper rain poncho - but I still managed to get wet...

We stopped at a little village for the evening - a swimming pool was apparently warmer than the river but not that enticing for us cold and wet. We shared a few piscos and some beer with the bartender who's birthday was the following day - he was celebrating with us early, and had an early night.

Back up at 5am for the near vertical ascent of the canyon - before breakfast... 

I managed the 1200m hike in 2.5 hours which is not something that I'd ever thought about doing - but it was an achievement to have done it!

Dawn breaking over the cloud cover:

Over half way and above the clouds into the sunlight!

At the top!

Our gang with our guide Walter celebrating making it!

Next we headed for a well deserved breakfast - a bit more substantial than bread and jam this time! The bus then took us back out of the park - stopping along the way for some site seeing and to taste a colca sour - made out of the juice of the sour catus that grows above a certain elevation.

The best stop was the hot springs though! These were made to sooth our tired muscles!

The setting by the river was beautiful too and allowed you to cool off easily

Gang in the colca valley - before it becomes the steep sided canyon - you can see pre inca terraces in the background

On the way back to Arequipa we stopped in another national reserve to see the llamas and alpacas

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