The Colca Valley

Trip Start Mar 12, 2012
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Trip End Jul 10, 2012


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Flag of Peru  , Colca Canyon,
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

That morning I left Puno, and had a horrendous 7 hour bus journey to Arequipa. It was hot, smelly, with no toilet stops apart from one at the side of the road, and I didn't fancy pulling down my pants in front of a bus load of Peruvian men, so had to not drink much which ment I got dehydrated and eugghhh, it was just horrible. Finally got to Arequipa, which compared to Puno seemed like heaven, checked into my hostel and ran to the toilet! The hostel was lovely. Nice dorm rooms, friendly staff, two movie rooms with 50" tvs, a Playstation 3, pool table, hammocks, huge DVD collection... the list goes on. It seemed like paradise to me.

  I was unfortunately feeling pretty ill at this point. I had a horrible cold, I was exhausted, my knees were hurting, so I didn't feel up to the 3 day hike in the Colca Canyon. Luckily the hostel did a tamer 2 day tour of the valley, so I signed up for that and chilled out until that day. I made some friends at the hostel, and together we went to the museum to check out the mummified body of an Inca girl who was sacrificed on the mountain. That was really fascinating, but quite sad. She was 12 years old, and walked for 3 months from Cusco to get to the mountain to be sacrificed. She had been chosen as a baby and raised in a special house with other sacrifice children, being prepared for her 'big day'. Then she was drugged and hit over the head and killed up there to please the mountain gods. Her body was frozen up on the mountain and discovered in the 1990s. In the years after, numerous other children were also found up there. All her clothing was in excellent condition, and she had lots of offerings placed with her. 

So after that sort of depressing museum tour, we went to the local market, and then that evening had some amazing pizza for dinner, before having a movie night! 
Then the next day I left for my tour to Colca Valley. We drove for a few hours out to the town of Chivay, doing lots of stops on the way to take photos. We also saw lots of vicunas, Peru's national animal. It's heavily protected now, as they are endangered after being hunted to a low number. Their fur is considered the finest quality wool, and so their brown fur is worth $250 a kilo! Impressive. We also stopped at a place where the locals make their offerings to the mountains. They're these piles of rocks, and there are millions of them! So we all made our own, and then carried on. When we arrived in Chivay, we went for a walk, and our guide took us to some Inca tombs. I thought there would just be a few rocks where they used to be. But no. They were proper stone tombs, complete with loads of skulls and piles of bones everywhere! Actually pretty creepy, and I didn't like it all that much. But interesting all the same.

  Then it was bed, before an early morning wake up to go and see Cruz del Condor. This had already been ruined for me slightly as my Machu Picchu guide Sam had told me the condors only go there because the locals put food out for them everyday. So after waiting in the cold for an hour, they finally turned up, and they were magnificant. Absolutely huge, and they soared right by us. Incredibly difficult to photograph though. Then we pretty much made our way back to Chivay for lunch, and then back to Arequipa. I was quite disappointed as I thought we would seee the canyon, not just the general area. It was still a good tour, and I saw some beautiful country, and did really enjoy it.
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