04/13/2008 - 04/15/2008
In Arequipa I booked a 3-day trek to the Colca Canyon, with Land Adventures. Colca Canyon is about 100 miles northwest of Arequipa and is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. The Colca Valley is a colorful Andean valley with towns founded in Spanish Colonial times and formerly inhabited by the Collaguas and the Cabanas. The local people still maintain ancestral traditions and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces.
The canyon is home to the Andean Condor, which can be seen at fairly close range as they fly through the canyon walls and are an increasingly popular attraction. 'Cruz del Condor' is a popular tourist stop to view the condors, the pass where condors soar gracefully on the rising thermals occurring as the air warms. The condors are best seen in the early morning and late afternoon when they are hunting. At this point the canyon floor is 3,960 ft (1,200 m) below the rim of the canyon.
Day 1 - Arequipa to Cabanaconde, down into the canyon floor, up to a small village for the night
The trek started with me being picked up at 6am from my hotel, and we hopped on a public bus to the town of Cabanaconde. We hiked down to the bottom of the canyon and back up to a little town in the hills where we spent the night in some very basic accomodations.
Day 2 - Down to the Oasis, then Back Up to the Canyon Rim and Cabanaconde
On the second day, we hiked back down to an "oasis" resort at the bottom of the canyon. We relaxed in the swimming pools for a few hours, then we had to hike 3 1/2 hours straight up the canyon wall to the top of the canyon and back to Cabanaconde. That was EXHAUSTING.
Day 3 - Cruz del Condor, Hot Springs, Back to Arequipa
On the third day, we rose early and took a bus to the Cruz del Condor. Unfortunately the condors must´ve slept in that morning, but we were able to see a few swooping below and above us. They were pretty amazing birds.
Unfortunately our bus broke down on the way to the hot springs. We walked into the next town and caught a collectivo to the nearby hot springs. Ah, sweet relief! Then we got back on the bus and made it back in Arequipa at around 5pm.