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Published: March 9th 2020
Mirador del Condor
Here the condors fly over your head sometimes as wide as 3 metres!
After the days spent in the dusty desert we were excited to arrive in the mountains.
A long bus journey obviously but the scenery was amazing, seeing the nature changing from desert to mountains, passing through a wetland desert, llama and alpaca everywhere, water coming from the mountain give us the welcome to a new kind of strength of nature, small kind of pointy hairy bushes were everywhere, looking like the hair of puppets, are just desert bushes shaped by the wind.
I was happy to see green grass and snowy peaks behind the hills. We were already at more than 3000 meters. Daria was already scared of the cold that was awaiting us outside the bus. When we arrived in Yanke at circa 3300 meters it was 6 o’clock and raining. We had a hotel booked for the first two nights. The place was nice, newly built, with an amazing view from the room window over a landscape that was ending with a huge soft green mountain where clouds rest and go all day. There was also an electric heater and good internet, Daria felt instantly better and fell in love with the view
from the window.
It’s raining season here. We have been recommended to go and explore between 8am and 2pm, because around 2pm it start raining every day.
No much to do here, just walk on cactusy treks up and down the mountains but also one exciting thing, hot springs! Me and Daria like hot springs, Daria in general like hot everything, so hot springs are what best nature can propose to her. So the first day of the trek was to make a circle that finished at the closest hot springs to the village, and spent a few hours cooking in there as it started to rain on us very heavy but we enjoyed the experience despite the cold shock having to get out in the wet rain. On the second day we went till the next important village in the heart of the colca canyon called Cabanaconde, where all the main treks start. We arrive there after visiting the Mirador del Condor where supposedly you can spot condors and actually yes, we saw one flying just over our heads. It was big, with a wings span of over 2 meters. At the view
point we also had food from some ladies, all locals were having it and so we decide to have it too, we didn’t t know what it was but it was looking yummy, it was a medley of liver, tripe and vegetables. Daria didn’t like it, so she eat just the veggies, me I was left with tripe and liver, the liver was too strong even for me, but I had all the tripe that wasn’t amazing but at least edible. The nutrients of that dish were enough to go and do the walk to the canyon.
We decide to do a steep walk down the canyon that was leading till the bottom where a hostel was and was the opposite way that the people that made the three days trek were coming from, so our idea was to go down and than go back up again.
After 20 minutes of going down a steep rocky track under a very hot sun we start meeting people that were going in the opposite direction back up. They were looking exhausted and they ask us how much more till the top, they admitted they were very tired because
it was 3 hours that they were walking up. We decided to then walk down 45 minutes, rest in the shadow if possible and then go back up, without arriving till the bottom. I think we took a wise decision, we meet other people going up, all of them where very exhausted, all of them asking the same question. We were up in 1 hour and something, in perfect time for the bus and for the start of the rain, we also had the time to steal a couple of purple corns and some broad-beans from the field around the village.
The bus back was a bit of an adventure, it was one of that kind of stinky old bus with locals bringing all sorts of stuff, most people are poor in that region and they don’t have a car or any kind transportation (or maybe just a mule) so they use the buses to transport all sorts of goods with the local buses sharing the space with tourist like us. Most of these people were old, very old and toothless. We had a 2 hour journey ahead and after more than an hour of curvy mountain
road and rain the bus stopped. A small avalanche of mud and small stones blocked the road just before the entrance to a tunnel. We had to wait there half an hour for the bus that was coming in the opposite bus arriving from Yanke on the other side of the tunnel, and swap passengers so it took us even more time to arrive back to our village, fortunately when we went out of the bus the sky was clear and the sun was shining again. We went directly to the other hot spring we didn’t yet visit and that were recommended by a Deutsch mum and daughter that we met at the Condor viewpoint.
The hot springs were in a better location than the ones the day before but more crowded and with a bunch of kids splashing all around that made our hot experience less enjoyable than the day before. I also think that most of the locals at the hot spring were there to enjoy the hot water because most people there don’t have hot water at home and it’s possible they don’t even have a shower in the house.
That day we
arrive late at home and so we decide to go and eat out. We arrive in front of the most touristic and only restaurant of the village and saw it was closed, so we ask the” tourist office” where to go and the lady recommended a place to eat and also added: have a coca tea, you know, to help with the stomach. That sentence made total sense the minute we entered the place, where a young lady that attended us told us that she was short on food and she can only give us a semolina soup and stir fried beef with vegetables. We accepted the option and got 2 beers from the shop to wash down that food. I was expecting simple food and simple food is normally good, but that food wasn’t good, it tasted bad even the peppers were tasting bad, maybe the oil and the sauces she used were rancid, the worst 6 quid (for 2 including beers) dinner I ever had, but in the end we didn’t feel bad from the food, just I am pretty sure I could made better food with half of those ingredients using just 1 foot and an elbow.
The ice from the hail around the side of the tunnel
Since the tunnel was blocked we had to walk around the side of it with a sharp drop down and slippery moments...
Disappointed by the dinner, coming back to the hotel, we saw that the restaurant we had wanted to go to originally had just opened. We arrived in our room even more disappointed.
Everybody told us how good Peruvian food is, but I think that food for tourists is great but what most of the local people eat isn’t that great. I like to try the real local food in every country I visit and all the time I join locals here in Peru I got disappointed. The local price for a dinner is 6 Sols and for that price you won’t find any ceviche, and if you find it, it will be disgusting, I bet!
Anyway despite the terrible dinner experience, we loved the rural life of the village and its surroundings, meeting llamas everywhere, more than people, it was low season but really there was not much tourism in Yanke, in the hostel we were the only ones for the first two nights, then a guy had the room below us. At 9:30 am, in the main square some tourists were brought by their tour operators to have a walk
around the village, for this purpose locals were dancing and selling wool jumpers, hat, gloves and other kind of souvenirs. At 10:30am the square was already clear, empty, dead, nobody around. On the first day Daria bought llama hat and gloves, the second day we realised that they were there just for the short tourist show, then I think they move to the Condor spot place to follow the tourists and to have the tripe soup. Still, for us Colca Canyon and it’s real ness (minus the morning tourist show) is better any day than the fake ness of Machu Picchu.
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