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Published: January 29th 2012
In all our time on this earth, neither Donna nor I had ever had to set an alarm for 2.00am. This all changed though for our trip to Colca Canyon, as the bus was due to pick us up at the Hostel at 3.00am! As we were getting ready in the middle of the night while others were no doubt still queuing to get into clubs on the other side of town, we just prayed that this trip would be worth it….
Once the bus arrived, we climbed on, gave a quick ‘Hola’ to our fellow sleepy trek goers, and settled in the seat to try and get some shut eye that our bodies were crying out for. Five hours later with a small stop in-between to pay our entrance fee to the national park, we arrived at Condor Cross. Here we had a great view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the awesome Condor. It was a little touristy here to say the least, but the views made up for the herds of people, and when we got our first sighting of a Condor, we simply forgot about who
was around and all attention turned to this awesome bird which was about as rare as rocking horse crap and had an enormous wingspan of over 3 metres! A great start to a trip!
From here we moved forward to the start of the trek where we were to walk to the bottom of the Colca Canyon (the 2nd
deepest canyon in the world, being 2 miles down at its deepest point) and eventually back up again. The group we were with were a little quiet however we knew that once the trek started everyone would loosen up and the conversation would start to flow. This was however until the guide asked us what tour we were on. Obviously we were on the Colca Canyon tour, it turned out though there were two ways to do this trek: 2 days 1 night, or 3 days 2 nights, the latter being the one we had opted for. Being the only ones on this particular tour it meant that we had to change groups.
The second group of people we met seemed like a nice bunch anyway so it was no problem, however it was only after around 15 minutes
of trekking with these guys that someone sprinted up behind us and shook the hand of our new tour leader. He then proceeded to ask ’Who’s doing the 3 day trek?’ Donna and I raised our hands, as well as one other person from the new group. ‘OK then, you 3 come with me’. We had switched groups again for the second time in half an hour! This is nothing unusual in South America and is just something you tend to get on with and go with the flow. Anyway, after about 15 minutes into the trek with our new group (Dennis – pronounced Denise and Miguel our new guide) we realised that the change in groups was certainly not a bad thing as we really clicked with Dennis from Lima and Miguel who was awesome in explaining all about the Canyon and the surrounding areas. So after a fair trek down to the bottom of the Canyon with our knees crying out for a break we finally made it. It was really quite difficult coming down such a long way as the terrain was harsh and the slopes steep and constant, but we were happy to have made it,
and we knew that lunch was only 30 minutes away, so after reaching the bottom, we powered on to camp for a well-earned lunch.
Once at the lunch stop it was a pleasure to take those walking shoes off, eat some lunch and take in the amazing vista around us. After this, we got to take a look at our basic yet quaint little stone hut for the night. There was no electricity here, so instead they gave us a candle for some light in the evening, which had great novelty value!
We decided to then grab a beer and started chatting to three other guys that had done the same trip as us but from a different group. It was then the heavens opened and the groups on the 2 day tour had to get going again to the next stop…over 4 hours away…..in the rain! Right about then, we knew we had picked the right tour as we sipped on our longneck beer, chatting away into the night under a beautifully made local straw hut
The next day we set out fairly early after a couple of mammoth Banana pancakes with chocolate sauce with the
knowledge that today’s trek would only be around 3-4 hours before reaching the beautiful Oasis in the middle of the canyon, which was to be our home for night number 2.
The second days trek was a nice one, and was also fairly easy as we were going neither up nor down, so our aching knees got a good rest. On the way we stopped off at a local museum where we were shown the various tools, clothing and other items that the locals used as they had done for centuries due to their isolated location from the rest of Peru. After this and a cup or two of the local Chicha beer (corn beer, still not recommended!) we moved onto towards the Oasis.
It wasn’t long before we rocked up to our home for the night in the Oasis, which is quite a spectacular sight. In the middle of all the barren rock and stone this place is saturated with lush green vegetation and palm trees as well as several quaint hostels all with swimming pool and a bar….perfect for cooling off after our short hike.
Again we were shown around, taken to our rooms for
the night and given a candle for the evening. After this we were able to do as we pleased, so Donna, Dennis, Miguel and I had ourselves a little swim and chatted on the side of the pool until lunch was ready. After lunch Miguel decided to do some more trekking, leaving the three of us to enjoy the peaceful surroundings, where we discovered that Dennis was a Yoga instructor! Donna and I having dabbled in a little in Yoga at home and Dennis being an instructor helped us decide to have a little impromptu Yoga session out there in front of the mountains. It was so relaxing and a perfect way to see in the evening before dinner, beer and another silent night in the Canyon.
The next day was going to be more of a challenge than the previous one. We were more than three quarters of the way down the Canyon and today was the day we had to reach the top. We were given the incentive of reaching the top by being told that breakfast was at the summit and not before we set out! An incentive worth working for we felt!! The walk back
up was a steep and tough climb, however we all pushed up there together with food in our minds and after only 2 and half hours (a fairly good time apparently) we made it to the summit. Another great achievement for us, but helped along by the stunning views and the awesome company of Dennis and Miguel.
After the summit was reached, we had our breakfast that we had worked so hard for and then was off back towards Arequipa. On the way back we were to come across two extremes. Firstly, we went to the Hot springs in Chivay. Here, there were several pools of natural Hot springs, some of which were just too hot to even get into! Very relaxing though, when we finally found a pool to suit our needs, whilst basking in the warm sun! After this, we got back on the bus and started to climb the mountains on the road back to Arequipa. All of a sudden the green that surrounded us and the sun turned to grey and white and we were suddenly over 5500 metres above sea level in heavy snow! Considering we had only being driving around an hour since
being surrounded by green grass and Sunshine, this was a stark reminder as to how incredible and diverse the terrain and landscape is around Peru. Ice creams one minute, snowballs the next!
Once again, a thoroughly amazing trip in this awesome country of Peru and yet another good friend made. Next on the agenda was to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Arequipa. Which way this was going to go, we didn’t know as NYE is generally disappointing, but we were in Peru, and therefore anything was possible……
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