Colca Canyon

Trip Start Dec 26, 2004
1
5
12
Trip End Jan 29, 2005


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Sunday, January 9, 2005

2 days in the amazing Colca Canyon! The deepest canyon in the world. To think I had no idea this canyon existed until recently. I cannot believe how little tourism this place gets.

We were picked up from our hotel at around 830am on Friday. Our tour guide introduced herself and pointed to a minivan weīd be travelling in along with 5 other ppl. WOW, finally weīd be on a tour with other ppl! Not that Phil and I minded being alone but itīs always nice to meet ppl travelling to the same places as you. Our travel companions were: A lady from Brazil, an older polish couple from Toronto and a couple from Belgium.

The car ride took about 5 hours. Normally, according to our guide, it should only take about 3 hours to get to the canyon but because we were going to make various stops on the way up, it would be longer of course.

Our first stop was at this quaint little cafe where we could take a bathroom break and buy a coca leaf tea - which is very popular around here and supposedly helps with the altitude - or some sandwiches. We opted for the coca tea, itīs actually pretty good. I have been drinking it regularly since Iīve arrived in Arequipa. Second stop was just a 10 min stop to take in the amazing landscapes and take some photos, which I went buck wild on, but I wonīt upload all. Las stop was at the highest point of the trip, by this point Phil and I thought we were doing quite well with the altitude, since Arequipa is peanuts next to this high point I think itīs around 4000m but donīt quote me on it. Either way it was damn high! We took some more great scenery photos and continued on our way. Arriving in Chavay was increadible. The road winded around some mountains while the town of chivay lingered in the center of it all. I cannot find words to describe it. Once in Chavay we were taken straight to a restaurant, thank god, I was starving at this point. Phil ordered some alpaca meat and I had some pasta in pesto sauce. After lunch we started to Phil a bit queasy. We were all taken to our respective hotels to rest until the guide would come pick us up later to go to the optional hot springs. I knew as we entered our hotel room that there was NO WAY Iīd be able to make it to the springs. I was feeling pretty crappy. Altitude sickness is hard to describe but you basially feel very dobey, drugged up itīs strange and you feel like youīre not getting enough air into your lungs. My eyes were stinging and my nose was stuffed up, I think i was allergic to some plant or something in that area. I wa sin no condition to go anywhere! I chugged some coca tea and lay in bed while Phil made himself go to the springs even in the awful state he felt as well.

Once he returned he said it was well worth it, you can read about it in his travelogue entry Iīm sure. The guide told us that she would take us all out for dinner at 730pm, well at least for those who were feeling up to it.

Phil and I turned out to be the only ones feeling well enough to check out the resto with the guide. THe restaurant itself wasnīt bad. Very typical of that area and cheap in prices. They had a local band playing and a girl and guy doing some traditional dances of that area for everyone. It was basically a show put on for the tourists cos thatīs all the people eating in the restaurant. Phil and I didnīt feel it was real enough and once we got our bills, we got up and went. We were also pretty tired and since we were to rise at 5am the next day we wanted to get a good nightīs rest.

Wonders sleep can do! I felt like a million bucks the next day when we got woken up at 5am, well minus the thought of having to get out of bed at 5am of course. We got ready, had breakfast and our guide picked us all up at 630am. We had a day full of activities lined up. We drove to the Cruz del Condor - condor cross - lookout area, where condors fly over the canyon and you can take photos. She had warned us that it was possible we wouldnīt see any since it was nesting season but she was wrong it was our lucky day! We must have seen more than 10 condors flying over the canyon it was stunning! what graceful creatures. I took a bunch of photos but I wonīt upload them yet since Iīll have to play with them in Photoshop, it was pretty hard to catch them at the right time. The canyon itself is just gorgeous. I cannot believe something so amazing could be found in Peru, it blows my mind! The reason we had to go so early is because thatīs feeding time so anytime after 10am or so would be too late. We stayed at the cross for about an hour then headed to some other look out areas to take some more breathtaking photos. We saw some pre-incan and incan gardens and some hanging tombs from incan times as well. We then drove to this neighbouring small town to walk around and take some photos and then headed back to Chivay to have lunch. I decided to try the alpaca meat this time. Very good! If youīre going to venture to the Canyon, Iīd suggest trying it for sure. I have been warned to not try to Huanaco meat, which is a cousin of the llama and alpaca supposedly itīs very tough meat and not the best tasting. ALpaca meat is red meat served very very thing. Itīs quite tasty. After lunch we embarked to head back to Arequipa.
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