Trekking Colca Canyon

Trip Start Sep 26, 2005
Trip End Dec 12, 2005

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Colca Canyon, near Arequipa is reputedly the biggest canyon in the world. It is in close competition with the canyon next door, of which the name currently escapes me...

The trip I did was a three day trek, which started with a bus trip, waking at 5am, through the Chachani (6000+ metres) and Misti (about 5800 metres) mountains, either side of us. It was my first time over 4800 metres, but we were in the bus, so I don't know if that is allowed to count. We arrived in Yanchue, which is a small town at one end of Colca Valley, which leads into the Canyon. We - just to give the full picture, were three germans, one swiss, two brits and me.

There is a saying here about managing altitude, goes something like... eat small, rest big and sleep by your poor self. In complete disregard for these rules we arrived in Yanchue, at 3600 metres, ate an enormous lunch, then went off on a trek for the afternoon to check out the area, I did share a room with a couple of brits that night... but don't think that's quite what the saying is getting at. There are lots of incan ruins in this area. Stone walls with cacti growing everywhere. It's really lovely. From the trek we went to the local hot springs, it was really cold outside, and we immersed ourselves in the hot springs... beautiful, tough getting out!

The next morning started at 4.30am, a bus to the starting point down into the canyon. I have never seen anything like it before. We were at 3600 metres, and the bottom of the canyon is about 2000m. So we were looking 1400m down into this canyon. The track was on the side of the mountains, and the canyon fell away beside us. It took us about 2 hours to walk down, with a breakfast stop on the way - were a young Condor visited us. At the bottom we crossed a suspension bridge, and started up the other side. Climbed for about an hour and a half... zigzagging our way up the side of this canyon, and then stopped for lunch.

Then the real climbing started. My heart has never worked so hard, tying to pump non-existent oxygen to my muscles. It was hammering away in my chest also cause I was shit scared about falling off the side of this canyon... not quite, but parts were impressively steep! We climbed up a way, then back down to the bottom, to 'the oasis' which is in the bottom of the canyon, and our hostal for the night. It was such a welcome sight. We arrived around 5pm, and must have walked for about 10 hours. A high calorie dinner was welcomed by the whole group, and then we were all in bed by about 8 or 9pm.

Marlon, our guide, woke us at 2.30am on day three. Time to climb out of the canyon. This is possibly the toughest thing I have ever done. In my stupidest moment so far this trip I didn't eat breakfast before starting the trek. We trekked staying together as a group and about an hour in I called a stop. Proceeded to nearly pass out on the side of the mountain, was all very uncool... I can't even go to work without eating breakfast, so don't know what I was thinking. Thankfully Ilona and Eckhart, the lovely german couple, had this glucose gel stuff which they gave to me, and managed to get my sugar levels back up. About ten minutes later we were off again. It took us most of four hours of trekking to get from the bottom of the canyon to the edge. The best vision I've seen for a long time was the top of that canyon. The view of the sun rising over the canyon was one of the most stunning I've seen. Am going to put up photos this week for you all.

This is all for now... the adventures have begun, and I am loving it!

Love to you all.
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