Dusty - Part Un
Trip Start Jun 16, 2008
93Trip End Sep 18, 2008
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Where I stayed
Arequipa is surrounded by mountains. On our way out of town we stopped to take photos of some of them, including the El Misti, a volcano which is almost perfectly cone shaped. After a couple more stops for photo ops, including a quick look at some Vicuņa (similar to Alpacas and Llamas, but smaller) whose wool is very expensive, we visited the Imata (?) Stone Forest. The rock formations were fascinating and appear very random considering that most of the surrounding landscape is desert. Most of the rocks are huge and take on all sorts of shapes
After sampling some Coca leaves which help to alleviate alltitude sickness, we set off again into the desert, reaching a high point of approximately 4,800 metres. Here we stopped for more great photos and even built a small rock offering to the mountains. Locals still practice this custom today.
We had a late lunch in Chivay, a town in the Colca valley. It is the capital of the Caylloma province in the Arequipa region. The valley itself is covered in picturesque terraces, both pre-Inca and Inca. On our way to Cabanaconde, we made loads of stops along the valley to check out the views. The guide even pointed out a number of "hanging tombs" which are basically tombs fashioned out of clay (or something similar) and somehow attached to the side of cliffs.... amazing! A number were undisturbed and still contained mummies.
We traveled on to Cruz del Condor where we went condor watching on a clifftop overlooking the valley. We arrived there just as the sun was setting and it was awesome. Spotted a number of condors which are huge, their wingspan ranging between 2 to 3 metres. Our guide told us they could live up to 80 years
Upon arriving in Cabanaconde, first impressions were that there wasnīt much to the town, so itīs fair to say that we werenīt expecting much in terms of our hotel. Boy, were we surprised! The manager (in his poncho!) met us at the front of the hotel which was located above the main square. From the moment we walked in, we could see the place was pretty classy. It had a rustic charm with simple, but really really nice rooms. They even had hot water, sweet! After a quick shower, we all met up for dinner. Our table was right by an open fire which was great, considering how cold it was outside! The hotel had a great menu which hit the spot. Olivia had tasty pumpkin soup followed by trout, whilst Taj had quinoa soup and an alpaca steak. Nice.
After dinner, we chatted with our fellow trekkers for a bit. Our group consisted of us, an English couple, Danish couple, Belgian and Romanian couple and an American. The Belgian / Romanian couple really felt the effects of altitude, however luckily we didnīt. We guess our stint on Cotopaxi volcano really helped us! After getting to know the other trekkers, we hit the sack in preparation for our walk down to the second deepest valley in the world!