Trip Start Jul 05, 2006
Trip End Sep 18, 2007

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Got a 6.45am bus from Puno to Arequipa, the start of many early mornings, so much for taking it easy in Southern Peru! Journey was supposed to be five hours but we eventually rolled in seven hours later, absolutely wrecked and baked as we were in the very front seat of the bus, great view though!

Bumped into Emily and Cedric that we had met on the Salkantay trek and we decided to hike Colca Canyon together, the deepest canyon in the world! Gave ourselves two days R&R and headed off at 5.50am on Saturday. So tired, slept most of the bumpy way to Cabonaconde where we had lunch and set out. Really fabulous three days of hiking and the group were great (i have to say that, most of them are on the mail list..hey guys!!). Headed down into the canyon on the first day, incredible views all the way down, with dark craggy outcrops sporting red and orange stripes towering over us to our right. Passed through the first village of the canyon at dusk and we still had an hour to go to camp! Started climbing just after the village, at around about the same time that darkness closed in! Found the climb really tough but wierd and all as it was, it helped that we couldn't see too far ahead! Really surprised to find that we actually had beds though and the shower was hot thanks to the big solar panel in the yard beside our shed!

Could be forgiven for thinking we had stepped into a scene from the Mad Hatter´s Tea Party the next morning at breakfast. It was Emily´s birthday and we arrived to find her in full local regalia, long green velvet skirt, red outer layer scrunched up at the waist, yellow flower printed shirt, blue and red waistcoat with a matching floppy hat turned up at the back and three balloons bobbing about her head and a very sheepish looking Emily beneath it all!! Headed off after a photo call with the locals and their prodigy!

Had to move quickly as the rocks above us on the windy path we were on weren´t the most stable, evidenced by the little piles of rubble we had to step over now and then! We came to a sharp turn in the path and all of a sudden we were in the full force of the wind and was it forceful! We all stood on an outcrop and jumped up in the air and it looked like there was nothing beneath us and we were flying. was class! Kept going down some more on very dusty terrain and after a slight ascent, voila, we were in an oasis!!Bamboo windows and doors, lovely bubbling streams and waterfalls, soft green grass and two crystal clear swimming pools, complete with water features. It was fabulous to lie back and look at the canyon towering above us on all sides, so beautiful. The three hour trek up those walls after wasnt so beautiful on the legs but it was stunning! Legs all but done in when we got to the top but we were absolutely delighted with ourselves, all the more satisfying because it was so frickin hard!

As we made our way back to the village where we were staying, the sky looked like it was burning before us, the sunset was out of this world, a perfect ending to the day! Had cake and candles after dinner later that evening and managed to get down some of the birthday sambucca, really overdid that a long time ago and the very smell of it is more tham i can handle now! Unfortunately, Emily felt the same way! Entertained into the wee hours by Nigel and Fiona, two excellent singers. The thoughts of the 5ish rise the next morning all that dragged us away!

Got the local bus next morning, crazy set-up as you have to queue to get a seat and lots of the guides line up for their trekkers and then they arrive half an hour later or so and join them at the top of the queue. We were well annoyed at all this until our guide, who is a local boy, gave us a nod from on the bus and we sauntered past the lot of them and were the first people on the bus!! Stopped off for the best part of an hour at Cruz del Condor where there is, supposedly a good chance of seeing condors. It wasn´t until thirty minutes of staring into the canyon for this elusive condor family had passed that our guide told us they have been blasting the mountain here of late and the condors have most likely moved down the canyon!!

Headed from there to Chivay Hot Springs and were they hot, 38 degrees!! Back to town for lunch but only had time for a starter in the restaurant, the mains had to be loaded into boxes! Most of us had ordered alpaca steak and we were only given plastic forks in the bags, so we headed off with a good percentage of their cutlery in the various bags! Jumped into taxis and had just pulled up at the station, when the bus pulled out around the corner so we had to leg it, bags, dinner and boots a-dangling! Was the nicest steak as it turned out but did well to keep it put as bus was one of the bumpiest we´ve been on. Windy mud roads and the driver seemed to think he was on a motorway, the way he negotiated them!

Met up with Emily, Cedric, Fiona and Nigel for the nicest dinner that evening in . Had the biggest long island iced tea before-hand, fab but was totally cut before we even made it to the restaurant! Thoroughly enjoyed the evening but died the following day on the two flights from Arequipa to Tumbes, the length of Peru and a six hour bus journey from there to Guayaquil, Ecuador. That´ll learn me!!
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