The deepest canyon in the world...SMASH!!!

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
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Trip End Feb 26, 2011


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Where I stayed
Posada Del Parque

Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We got a knock on the door at 4.45am as promised (oh god) and we quickly packed up the stuff from the hot springs that had supposed to have been drying over night but we ended up putting still damp clothes in the ruc- sacks god knows what that was going to smell like tonight. We had breakfast – the usual bread and jam with black tea as there was no milk – so common in South America – 'leche' tends to come in the powdered or condensed variety if at all.  No sooner had we finished we were on our way to the Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world plunging to depths of 3191 metres , much deeper than it’s more famous relation The Grand Canyon.  We stopped not far from Chivay at Yanque to watch some children dressed in traditional embroidered dress dancing around the plaza to music – this was very sweet, there were also women here that had llamas on leads and huge eagles with clipped wings for tourists to have their pictures taken for a small donation.  The guy who had sold us the trip had warned us about the eagles and urged us not to support it as it only encourages other people to do it and take more and more of these beautiful creatures out of the sky where they belong – we gladly obliged in true Andrew and Erica Style and took some pictures covertly from miles away with our long zoom (Andrew Edit - it is a point and click we cant quite dothe papparazzi thing with a DSLR)

We stopped at a few more lookouts to take in the extensive and achingly beautiful pre-Inca terracing that covers the valley floor (believed to be the most extensive in South America) including a site where we viewed some pre-Incan burial chambers high up on the mountain side which looked like stone bee hives before we arrived at the most popular viewing point of the Colca Canyon, Cruz del Condor, at about 8.30am.  I must say it was already quite busy with tour buses and there were a lot of people milling around the area wielding massive DSLR cameras eagerly waiting for the stars of the show to appear – the Andean Condors - the bird with the second largest wingspan in the world – trailing rather significantly behind the Wandering Albatross which we had the fortune to see in flight in New Zealand.  So long ago we gave up fighting the twitching urge – we are going to sign up to the RSPB as soon as we get home, Bill Oddie is our leader now.                                 

 Anyway, I digress, none of this detracted from the beauty of the place though and it was dizzying just staring down this endlessly deep crevasse to the bottom.  We stayed for about one hour at the site and whilst we were there we got to see 3 Condors soaring above us even though it isn’t supposed to be the best season to view them (in summer there are less carcasses for them to scavenge from) – I guess we were lucky for once.  On the way back to Chivay we stopped at loads of viewpoints looking out over more stunning scenery – it was simply breathtaking.  We also stopped at another village with an amazingly ornate church, it was a gold leaf explosion, it was in here that I was accosted by a rather rude American woman who approached me and brought to my attention that flash photography was forbidden – even with my terrible Spanish I had read this on the way in and obliged, "I didn’t use the flash" I replied, she went on that I wasn’t to use the flash “I haven’t” I again responded getting a bit annoyed.  “Well he has” she said pointing to Andrew who was about 10 metres away fixated by a fake Jesus in a glass box “He hasn’t even got a camera” I laughed but at this stage I was losing my patience with her and thought we were heading for some kind of ruckus on holy ground.  I bit my tongue and let it go. (Andrew Edit - All quite amusing really I'm in a church looking at a fake jesus in a glass coffin to find Erica and this North American woman having a bit of an argument about me, so unlike the Lady)

Back at Chivay we once again had an all you can eat lunch in the same restaurant (Andrew edit - more Llama, Alpaca and Guinea Pig) where we ate far too much again and then had a walk around the dusty village ending up in  the main square complete with the obligatory church, fountain and strangely enough an Irish bar.  At 1pm we started our 4-5 hour journey back to Arequipa.  The journey was far worse than it had been on the way here – the rude French couple who were sat in front of us just reclined their seats the whole way back (I absolutely hate this) squashing our legs and went straight to sleep – add to this the fact that the bus was el scorchio and I was sat next to the only window in the bus that wouldn’t open and it was a recipe for an afternoon of hell.  Was I being tetchy or maybe hormonal? I don’t know but everything seemed to annoy me and it felt like everything and everyone was conspiring against me.  As we were arriving in Arequipa our guide who turned out to be excellent and really quite funny did a bit of a quiz about the trip – unfortunately we lost out on winning the dry crackers to the Peruvian lady.  Oh well.  We were dropped off down the road from our hostel (we were hoping to stay in the same place again just because it was easy and well located – oh and it had great showers). 

Fortunately they had a couple of beds for us in an empty dorm room so we dropped off the bags and ran to the post office to send our last batch of stuff home (including the DVD’s that Andrew had spent hours burning our photographs of the trip to – just in case anything happens to the laptop before we get home).  This turned out to be a bit of a challenge – we ended up having to queue up in the same line three times after being sent off for various things like passport copies, forms etc.  In the end and about 50 quid later (OMG) we had ridded ourselves of a heavy chunk of stuff which made us feel a lot better – let’s just hope that it arrives home). (Andrew Edit - despite the cost I would probably hate myself for not spending 50 if everthing went missing at this stage of the trip).

We got a couple of beers on the way back to the hostel – we were trying to decide whether or not we needed to eat – we decided that we didn’t after the mammouth amount of food we had consumed over the last couple of days.  We just sorted out a few more flights on the internet (yes even more flights, and yes we feel guilty) and had an early night - I think we were asleep by 8.30pm – it had been a long day.
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