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Published: July 12th 2011
Our trek of the Colca Canyon started in Arequipa at the ridiculous hour of 3 am. The bus picked us up from our hostel and we were on our way to Chivay, where we made a quick stop for breakfast. Afterwards we continued on our way to Cruz del Condor to catch the flight of the Andean Condors. These are some really huge birds that soared effortlessly through the canyon. Apparently they only do their "flight" bright and early or late in the day.
After checking out the birds for a bit, the bus drove off the road and let me and Binnson out on the side of the highway. Here we met up with a group of 13 other people to continue on for our trek in the Canyon. The Colca Canyon is the 2nd deepest canyon in the world with a depth of approximately 4100 meters (twice the depth of the Grand Canyon!), and surprisingly only discovered in 1981.
We headed down the canyon on some steep, dusty, rocky, slippery paths. About 20 minutes in, I could tell I was already getting a sunburn... damn Williams genes! Of course we forgot to pack the sunscreen too!! We
got to the Colca River at the bottom of the canyon about 3 hours later, and I was full out sunburned!! We walked another 20 mins along a neat little path with fruit trees and creeks to get to an isolated village called San Juan de Chuccho for lunch. Here they made us a delicious lunch, Binnson even had some Alpaca meat... I did not...!! The traditional village has no roads for vehicular access so if the people need oil, sugar, etc, they must go the route that we took to get there by donkey to the nearest town purchase it.
Next we hiked for about another 4 hours up and down the canyon to reach our camping lodges. The hike was awesome, there were avocado trees, pomegranate trees, huge blue agave plants, cactus fields, creeks of water, etc. It was almost surreal to think that people were pretty self sufficient off this land! We finally reached the Oasis, where there were straw huts and natural pools, for us to relax in. There is no electricity in the Oasis, so we ate dinner by candlelight and then checked out the crazy star filled sky before dragging our tired sore
muscles to bed.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to start hiking again by 5am. We all met up with our flashlights and headlamps and starting hiking up the canyon in the dark. We hiked pretty much straight up the side of the canyon to ascent 1100 meters in 2 hours and 40 minutes. It was absolutely exhausting!!! And soooo deceiving, every time we thought we were almost at the top, the mountain grew a little more and there appeared to be another 30 switchbacks ahead.
After reaching the top we hiked for about 20 minutes to the town of Cabanaconde where we had a well deserved breakfast!! From here we continued by bus (thank god!). We went to another small town, Macca, where Binnson got his picture taken with a Lamma and an eagle. There were many pre-Inca terraces along the road on the way so we stopped to take pictures at a spectacular viewpoint. We headed back to Chivay for another delicious meal then headed to the next stop at 4160 meters altitude to view some of the volcanoes in the area. Lastly we stopped at an Alpaca reserve to take pictures of
the Alpacas before heading home to Arequipa. We were exhausted and very sore when we got back and pretty much headed straight for showers (very needed!!!) and went to bed at 9pm!
We leave Arequipa tomorrow night so we will blog about Arequipa next!
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