Saturday, July 14, 2007

Colca Canyon

Photos here.

Just as I´m writing this, the owner of the Internet cafe has pulled down the shutters... The protesters are marching down this street...

So, as mentioned in the previous post, we had quite an early start to this trip. Got a couple of hours sleep before getting out of bed at 12:30am to be picked up by our guide (who looked more tired than we did...). We then spend 30 minutes or so picking up the rest of the gang before heading to the bus station for our 6 hour journey out to Cabanaconde where we stopped for a bit of breakfast and for our guide to pick up supplies for lunch and dinner.

Hooray, a condor, let´s go home...

It´s very traditional and very isolated up here.

After a quick breakfast we were off and walking to the edge of the canyon.

We passed quite a few locals going about there daily business.

and eventually reached the edge of the canyon:

This gives you an idea of the kind of path we were about to walk down.. Only 1000 meters to descend...

We stopped for plenty of breaks on the way down. Here you can see our guide almost falling asleep. Poor guy has only just returned to Arequipa after taking another group on a tour.

After about 3-4 hours of walking we reached the bottom of the canyon, crossed over the river,

and a brief climb took us to our lodgings for the night.

A late lunch and the afternoon was ours to collapse on the floor and try to recover. Good views of the path we had just walked down made the afternoon complete.

Nice flowers in the garden.

After a bit of negotiation with the guide we agreed to get up the following day at 8 am to walk to a place called La Oasis (the tourist name, not the real name). Everyone went to bed pretty early as it had been a bit of hard day so we were all up bright an early.

Today was a fairly easy walk along the side of the valley to what we were promised would be "thermal" baths.

Along the way we passed the communal irrigation channels which are used to provide water for the terraces.

And after a couple of hours walk

We stopped off at a small village to take a look at a museum of indigenous life which was run by a sweet lady called Victoria.

Here she is showing us some candles made out of llama fat. Life must have been a bit stinky back in the olden days...

After a quick rest it was time to continue walking and to La Oasis, which we go site of pretty quickly:

and a quick descent took us to our pool (room temperature - better than cold!)

and our lodgings for the night.

A nice relaxing afternoon. The next day we were up at 1am to climb back out of the canyon and see the condors. We stirred up the fire and warmed up, had a quick cup of coca tea and bit of bread and were off!

We were all equipped with fantastic headlamps (mine seems to be particularly bright). Our guide carried... a candle. I think he was showing off.

After a 3 or 4 hour climb, the sun was starting to come up over the mountains and we were at the top.

Some lovely colours from the sunrise.

and some well deserved breakfast!

After breakfast, we all jumped on a bus to finally see the condors. They are big birds!

Lots of photos of condors here.

Then it was time to head down to the real hot baths at Chivay. Absolutely awesome, like taking a bath. I got a massage as well. What a great day.

The journey back to Arequipa gets it´s own blog post. It was quite an adventure...

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