Trekking in the canyon
Trip Start Jun 16, 2007
41Trip End Nov 13, 2007
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3 day/2 night Trekking tour into Colca Canyon
Taxi picked us up from hostel in Arequipa at 5:50am for a six hour local bus ride to the village of Cabanaconde; great to experience local buses, bus started off quiet and we had seats but soon filled up until we were cramped in like sardines with local people: Ross with an enormous box of groceries on his knee, 7 of us in our group plus our guide. halfway through the journey the bus driver pulled over in the middle of nowhere and opened door into the cabin and yelled "el banos" (bathroom). Bathroom?????? Where???? people disembarked to use the invisible "banos" directly outside bus windows, a small cowboy looking chap who clearly had more business to do hiked off 50 yards to find cover on the barren desert landscape! Bus reached 4,900m during drive over the Andes.
When we arrived in village of cabanaconde (3,300m)at about 12:30pm , we had dinner in a small local restaurant (standard Peru meal of soup, then rice, chicken and potatoes) before setting off on trek. Claire´s standard Peru meal reappeared within 50 yards of village and guide proclaimed it was normal at this altitude! But Claire carried on with hike regardless, despite several invisible "banos" stops along way. We continued 5 hour hike to bottom of canyon - 1200m of rough stony tracks designed for mules rather than man.
At bottom of canyon, our guide asked "do you have flashlights" and we suddenly realised the day´s trek was not over yet. We had to climb 200m up other side of canyon in the dark to reach tiny village we were staying in. Stayed with family in their home and they cooked us all a 3 course meal over a charcoal fire, which Claire regrettabley felt could not to eat after the ´incidences' of the day. Freezing cold during night so wore all clothes and new alpaca wool hats!
Next day, we wandered around tiny village, the guide showed us how they lived self sufficiently in canyon, growing all own food, and plants for medicines, making own clothes etc. We saw hummingbirds on the cacti and ate prickly pears! We trekked back down to canyon to river, and had lunch (and a swim!) before setting off on the 1200m climb back up the canyon. It was decided at this point that as Claire had not eaten for 2 days she was to travel by mule! Guide haggled with local mule owner and secured a deal of 40 soles (appox 8 quid!). Ross set off with rest of group after lunch and Claire later on a mule, with 2 french travelers also on mules. Claire pretty terrified at prospect of riding mule up canyon for 2 hours, especially after seeing paths on way down, but all turned out fine, despite a few scary moments teetering over canyon on back of mule! Made it up in 2 hours, overtaking group of hikers on way including Ross. Mule owner ran up with mules whole way despite looking at least 60.
Ross made it up in just over 2 and a half hours when the guide told us his personal best was 57 minutes. He presumably has lungs of steel!
That night in Cabanconde there was a festival of farming taking place, and we watched a local dancing competition. Thankfully we missed the slaughtering of the bull, as it was already looking medium rare on the barbeque when we arrived.
Stayed in village, ate local meal, and froze in the hostel that night!
Up at 5:30am next morning to take another bus to a spot where we watched condors over the canyon. Fantastic. We saw them rise on thermals before heading to coast.
Next was bus home, stopping en route at a pool filled with naturally hot water which has run off mountain to revive our muscles and then a big lunch (but not for Claire!) Back in Arequipa for the night. Recovering today before catching night bus to Cuzco (10 hours) - (using the same safe bus company!) Struggling with the spanish and hope to take lessons in Cusco......
Overall, so far having a great time. All the peruvians we have met have been really helpful, depsite our lack of spanish, and are the friendlist and kindest people you could hope to meet.
Hope you all well and enjoying the rain in England!
Love Ross and Claire
Linsey, Ruth, Cross & Welsh - hope you survived glasto! Can´t wait to hear all about it!
Dad & Fiona - thnaks heaps for nagging me to upgrade my CIPD membership - it was successful!