Trekking Tarvits Deep In The Canyon
Trip Start Mar 18, 2008
23Trip End Ongoing
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Our first stop was Santa Catalina monastery which is spread over five acres in the middle of the city and is surrounded by a huge wall. It is a city within the city and was off-limits to the public for 400 years until 1970. We spent a few hours wandering the maze of alleys, colourful courtyards and rooms previously occupied by nuns, whose slightly morbid portraits are displayed on many of the walls.
We also visited a museum containing the frozen body of Juanita, a young Inca girl sacrificed to the gods on top of Mt Ampato approximately 550 years ago
Colca Canyon is considered to be the deepest canyon in the world and we were determined to find out just how deep it goes. On a three day hike from Cashapampa, about five hours from Arequipa, we descended into the canyon to spend a few nights with local families. The scenery was spectacular, particularly in the lower sections of the canyon where the rock walls seem to stretch forever into the sky. We walked about four hours a day - much more palatable than our previous trek - and had a chance to visit different communities along the way, sampling local fruits and `chicha` which is a fermented corn drink known as the `cerveza of the Incas`. We still prefer a cold Corona.
On the second afternoon we arrived at an oasis with swimming pools and green grass, tucked into the side of the rock walls
Guided by torchlight and a full sky of stars, we rugged up against the cold and spent a few hours putting one foot in front of the other until we reached the top. Watching the sun come up over the canyon was almost worth the effort! After a good feed and a few coffees to warm up, we bussed it further along the rim of the canyon to watch the huge Andean condors flying around and then soaked our weary muscles in the local hot springs.
The Colca Canyon trek was a very different one to our previous trek in the Cordillera Blanca. Having the time to meet the locals and see their way of life gave us an appreciation for how tough some people do it over here. Each village grows fruit and veg in terraces on the canyon walls and barters with other villages to sustain their needs. Other basics require a trip to Cashapampa, which means a hike out of the canyon every time you need toilet rolls or a new chicken or donkey. The traditional dress of the locals includes finely embroidered hats and vests, which differ from other cultures as the communities in the canyon pre-date the Incas, who never took up residence in the dusty depths. Unique people living in a truly unique location.
We are pumped for our next stop - Cusco - and the opportunity to see a range of Inca ruins, including Machu Picchu. Until then.....