(Day 139 - 143)
08.04.2010 - 12.04.2010 26 °C
The second largest city in Peru and close to the seconds most visited place in Peru (The Colca Canyon), the centre of Arequipa is a nice city with some interesting architecture and many churches. The main plaza is mentioned as the nicest in all of South America, and after our 5 months in South America, I would have to agree. It was vey pleasant with many trees, a fountain and bordered by some nice buildings made from volcanic rock.
On the 3rd day in Arequipa we took a bus to the Colca Canyon, 6 hours away from Arequipa and nearly twice the size of the Grand Canyon. The journey was fairly long but the scenery itself worth the trip with golden fields of wheat separated by English country style stone walls, green hills and dramatic canyon scenery.
Our hostel in Cabanaconde (the farthest town in the canyon) was cozy and welcoming. Indeed “Patchama’s” folded us in its warm atmosphere with smells from a woodfire pizza oven drifting through their restaurant as we settled for a drink with fellow newcomers and staff. After a lovely pizza, we went to bed early as the next day would see us rise bright and early for a very special sunrise indeed.
We got on a bus to take us to the Condor viewing point, apparently about 1200m in depth above the canyon. But before we took off the bus driver made sure he got EVERY single person in town on board. It was absolutely hilarious, every time we thought “this is it, there is no more space” he would add 2 more people in.. He even went as far as climbing onto a ladder along side the bus to poke his head in, check for small human holes, and ask us to squeeze some more! Very funny, and I don’t think we could have gotten anymore of a local experience than this!!
We got dropped off at a viewing point on the canyon where each morning the Condors circle above. They came out in full force (we counted about 15) and it was an incredible sight seeing these splendid birds soaring the skies and the valley before us. Some stayed at a distance whilst others came right above us (just a few meters above) and allowed for Martin to take some amazing shots. Incredible way to start your day!
There are only two types of Condors: the Andean one (found in Peru, Bolivia and Chile) and the Californian Condor. The Andean kind likes to nest at elevations of 3,000 to 5,000 metres and can live up to 50 years and can have a wing span of up to 3.5 meters.
When we returned to Cabanaconde, there was a horse market where the locals were able to buy/sell them for as little as a 100 soles (about US $35) and as much as 600 Soles for the better ones. It was an interesting thing to witness, watching them heard the horses and try to rope them in with lassos etc.
The rest of our day was spent relaxing and enjoying the sunny weather, playing cards with Benji (Belgium), chatting to Dee (USA). This was fabulous after the busy few weeks we have just had.
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