Colca Canyon and the Condors (A great rock band name?)
At 3,270m deep the Colca Canyon is one of the deepest gorges in the world. (Grand Canyon is 1,600m).Do we take a leisurely two days to visit or get up for a 3 am pick up and pack it into a one day trip? Yep, you guessed it — one very early morning start.
Off for 3 hours drive in the dark, we eventually stopped for breakfast: Mmmm... 2 hard rolls, balls of butter and runny strawberry jam. We've had better. The journey continued with a short stop at Chivay town, the usual rows of stalls selling the same jumpers we have seen in Cusco and La Paz. Chinese imports? As well as ladies encouraging tourists to have their photos taken with their gorgeous baby alpaca, weirdly there was someone dressed as a Condor. Let's hope it's not the only one we see.
We popped into the church and was surprised at the amount of gold leaf adorning the walls. Just outside were pretty flowering gardens and large statues of famous Incas.
We finally arrived at the key destination. A walk through scrubland with an array of beautiful flowers and weird-shaped cacti, we came to the edge of the deep canyon.
I will say that the geography of the place is not as dramatic as the Grand Canyon. Unlike the North American's iconic site, this has one flat edge with rugged mountains looming up higher on the other side with scars of scree where rock falls have taken place.
We could only just see the river over 3,000m below; however, the acoustics from the deep valley accentuated the roar.
Suddenly a herd of nearby horses became skittish, galloping down the hill. And there we saw why. A massive Condor was flying overhead. What a sight! Such a majestic creature. We all stood aghast, snapping away on our cameras. As we looked up the hill, more were coming our way. One point there were a dozen flying as if in formation — such a magical view. Sorry Canyon, the Condors took the prize.
Later in the day, we stopped off at the La Calera natural hot springs. Luckily at the last minute, we put our swimwear in a bag and so glad we did. After getting changed, we then walked over a very wobbly rope bridge across the river a good 10m below!
We slid into one of the three pools. Ah...delightfully hot water. It is such a pleasant sensation being outdoors in the fresh, crisp air and being in steaming hot water. We stayed there relaxing as long as possible before returning by the rickety swinging bridge.
Before our long drive home, we stopped for lunch and sat chatting with fellow travellers, a delightful American couple, Sarah and Tim's namesake, another Tim John! Their current travel is the 2nd year long trip they have taken, and they have, impressively visited over 70 countries! Wow! Tim showed us some stunning photos of the Antartic; believe it or not, we have just booked a trip there in two years time. How's that for planning?!
Would I recommend the Colca Canyon? Yes, I think if you can take a two-day trek, walking down into the depth of the canyon, it would be even more spectacular. And the Condors, well, they made our day.