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Published: April 5th 2014
Day 45 - 46 Today we temporally leave Arequipa & move further into the highlands for an overnight stay at Chivay which is the gateway to the Colca Canyon before returning to Arequipa. The main reason to visit Colca Canyon is not only the amazing scenery but to hopefully see the magnificent Andean condor, the world's largest flying bird, flying over the canyon.
We travelled by minivan to Chivay (approx 5 hrs) stoping several times along the way to see llamas, alpacas ( both herded for wool & meat) and vicuñas (roam wild). One rest stop we were able to try some coca tea which is supposedly good for altitude sickness. Another stop was at Patapampa (the highest place on our tour at 4900 m above sea level) which was an assent of 2600 m from Arequipa before we descended 1300 m to Chivay town. Breathlessness was still noticeable. Best buffet lunch for ages with a late afternoon dip in a volcanic hot spring baths & a nice walk back through the canyon to our hostel. Not a bad day & good to get out of the city for a change.
The town & accommodation in Chivay was better
than expected although everyone seemed to have a bad sleep, most with headaches from the altitude but some had upset stomachs including Ruthie.
More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Colca Canyon provides some breathtaking views. Deep into the canyon past Chivay has been relatively unknown to the outside world until recently & the 1st road in was only constructed in 1970 although it is very flattering to call it a road. Despite this remoteness traditional Indian villages are dotted throughout the canyon & have thrived since pre Incan times with some terraces dating back to that time & are still cultivated with roughly the same methods (donkeys) as still inaccessible for tractors.
The main attraction of the canyon is not only the amazing scenery but the magnificent Andean condor, the world's largest flying bird. We had a very early start as it was still 1.5 hr drive to a viewpoint where condors are normally more active in the morning. We were absolutely privileged to see numerous birds gliding back & forwards in front of us and it almost seemed like they were performing for us. Our guide said that sometimes there are few if any
on view. We retraced the way in to travel back to Arequipa in the afternoon.
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