Coca Leaves, Colca Canyon and Condors

Trip Start Jun 12, 2006
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Trip End Jul 01, 2007


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Saturday, October 7, 2006

So my frantic trip through Peru continues and this country is slowly becoming my favorite of my trip so far.

I am now in Cusco and ready to see the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu.

I spend three days in Arequipa. After an 8 hour over night bus journey from Nazca the first day I wondered around this colonial town and visiting some of the churches and Junita. Junita is an ice mummy found at an inca burial site up in the mountains. Poor girl was drugged and then sacrificed to the mountain gods. The same day I booked a two day hike to Colca Canyon the deepest canyon in the world.

At 4am the following morning I awoke for my hike, as you imagine I was battered. A two hour bus trip took us into Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca. With the park being almost 5000 meters above see level to attitude sickness kicked in again and I was feeling rough. This is when I discovered coca leaves. Illegal in most countries the incas have been using these for years. You put about 10 leaves in your mouth with a small piece of ash and chew for about 30mins, this sorts out the headaches, dry mouth and breathlessness. But does taste horrible!!!

We spent the first whole day hiking around the bottom of the canyon, looking at pre inca ruins and terraces they built into the canyon. That night we relaxed in some hot springs.

The following day we got up early again at 5am for a hike to see the condors. The climate here was so strange, freezing at night and within a couple of hours in the morning, boiling hot. Therefore I am glad that I had layered clothing, so I could take one of at a time. We waited for almost two hours for the condors, in fact the first siting was a smaller eagle. We then saw one of in the distance. With our time almost up we started to walk back to the bus, as we did two huge 3 meter long condors swooped up from the valley below. Only problem was my dead camera battery!!!

Later that day we did a bit more wildlife spotting. Including herds of Alpaca, Llama and Chincillas.
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