Tues 14/5/13 I’m back in the mountains hiking the Colca Canyon for three leisurely days. Today I hiked four hours to a little village nestled in a valley with sheer cliffs on one side and green terraced farmland on the other.We started the morning with a 3am pickup then three hours in a mini bus from Arequipa to the Colca region and the world’s second deepest canyon (after the Grand Canyon in America) and the home of the world’s largest Condor which can be seen floating on the thermals rising up from the canyon as the sun heats up the rocks.
On the three hour hike down to the village I had two Dutch girls chatting away in front of me and two hung over British girls behind me worrying that they brought tanning lotion instead of 50+ sunblock and Oh em gee it’s so hot and so dusty.
Ah the serenity!
Wed 15/5/13 Colca Canyon Oasis. We had a leisurely breakfast at 7.30 this morning with banana pancakes followed by a four hour walk up some quite steep sections, through small farms and villages and then down into the Colca Canyon Oasis – a natural hot spring at the base of the canyon. There are several resorts here that seem to do a roaring trade based on the size of the dining room and the drink prices!
It is really beautiful, although slightly too ‘holiday resort’ here. Well-manicured gardens and lush green lawns. A stocked bar and a large kitchen.
The animals in the canyon villages are in quite good condition. Every camp we’ve stayed in has had a couple of cats and dogs and the Oasis is no exception with a runty little kitten sitting on my lap as I write this. The kittens have been very popular with the tourists as you can imagine. Our guide Juan Carlos seems to have been doing this circuit for a while now as he knows the names of the animals and their checkered histories. It is quite fun hearing the back stories of each of the animals we come across.
The three day, two night Colca Canyon hike has been a nice little trek with only 3-4 hour hikes each day, staying at some quaint little guest houses along the way. The food has been a little light, I would have much preferred larger portions but the dishes themselves have been some nice traditional Peruvian dishes like Alpaca stew, Squash curry and rice soup. The environment certainly isn’t very pretty with dusty tracks winding over sun baked hills with sparse vegetation in patches but it has been great to get back out on the mountains and see how the locals live.
Tomorrow morning we make the steep ascent back to the top of the canyon. Three hours or so up a steep path starting before sunrise (around 5am) as when the sun rises it heats up the track making the hike unbearable.