Colca Canyon & Condors

Colca Canyon, a river canyon in southern Peru famed as one of the world's deepest, is a well-known trekking destination. It's a habitat for the giant Andean condor, on view from overlooks like Cruz del Condor. The canyon landscape comprises a green valley and remote traditional villages with terraced agriculture that predates the Incas.

🙂 The splendid condors! Incredible vistas.

🙁 Despite booking an English speaking tour guide, although very sweet she only knew two word: ‘Two “Ours”‘ to Colca Canyon said on Repeat!

Up at 6am and had breakfast before heading off. About 130 miles outside of Arequipa you will find the splendid Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world (3,400 metres at one point – deepest is Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Tibet which is 5,500m), twice as deep as America’s Grand Canyon! We arrived first with great anticipation to spot some condors!

We were not disappointed! One of the many Inca legends tells that the condor was an immortal animal. The myth of its rebirth tells how the one known as King of the Andes, upon seeing himself grow old, folds his wings and throws himself in a majestic fall from the cliffs to die in an act that symbolises the cycle of life itself.

Both sexes have the iconic bald head but males are much larger and have a white ruffle on their necks. Breeding is a slow place with the female only producing an egg every other year with an incubation period of nearly two months.  Both parents raise the chicks which stay dependent on their parents for up to a year. They can live up to 50 years of age.

The Condor has an average measurement of 1.3 meters (4.2 feet) and can weigh up to 15 kilograms (33 pounds) and has a wingspan of about 3 meters. Being so large, these animals need environments with strong winds to be able to stay in the air. The Colca Canyon is home to these exact strong increasing winds, making it a perfect home for the bird. Within the hollow spaces of the canyon walls are the nests of the colony of more than one hundred Colca Canyon Condors. From early in the morning the birds begin to spread their wings and begin their majestic flight over the Canyon in search of food which is largely carrion.

All was quiet until 7am when two birds flew by at eye level! Then peaceful again until 8.30am when there was a sudden resurge of several birds delighting us with their gliding on the air currents. Truly awe inspiring to spend the morning observing them swoop right past our heads! Hope you enjoy the photos … Some are a bit blurry but captures the essence…a real privilege to witness.

As we snaked our way down from the high mountains, our breath returned. This area contains some of the best examples of pre-Inca terracing in the country, steps cut centuries ago into the mountain like living contour lines. We then headed upwards and onwards again passing fields of llama and alpaca, ladies wrapped in rainbow shawls. We see traditional Andean villages like tinker towns thousands of feet below. Overhead, smoke billows from the Chachani volcano and somewhere, in the north, not far from where we are, is the Mismi peak, part of the Chila Mountains, where a thin trickle of crystal water falls down the rock face and turns, eventually, into the mighty Amazon River. Nearly 4,000 miles later it will discharge into the Atlantic at a rate of 28 billion gallons per minute, the largest river by volume in the world.

The scenery is postcard perfect! Ideal for more touristy type photos!

Our next stop was hot springs – interesting to go in boiling hot water on a boiling hot day! Not so refreshing!

We then hopped back in the vehicle to continue our journey to Puno which included passing over the highest point of Volcan Chachani at 6,075m. Just awe inspiring. Also spotting lots of wildlife on the way: flamingoes and eagles in the mix An unfortunate lorry had lost its load but was being addressed. we continued to be impressed with the dramatic volcanic scenery.

I had been suffering from a mild headache but as we climbed in altitude it got worse until it reached breaking point and I thought my head would explode. This bout of altitude sickness was cured by a quick suck of oxygen and I felt better within a minute! I am so pleased that I have never experienced this before even when climbing big mountains over 5,000m – but that is down to walking slowly, going high and sleeping low rather than an all on one as done on this day. At least I provided light entertainment for the others! LOL>

Despite this glitch the journey had to continue! We got excited as Puno came into view… we spotted the train that we would be boarding in a few days time!

We finally got to our lovely hotel on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Unfortunately I felt to ill to move so Paul headed off for a pizza with Tony & Ness while I rested. The view from our room at the stunning Mirador del Titikaka Hotel in Puno was stunning and I enjoyed the sunset in peace and quiet.

Go Back to: Lima

Go to: Ballestas Islands

Go to: Lake Titicaca

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