Colca Canyon

Trip Start Jan 22, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A four hour drive to an altitude of 15,000 ft, twisting through the snow-capped Andes brings us to a surreal perch, atop the Colca Canyon, outside of the rustic town of Chivay, Peru.

Countless switchbacks, water filled tunnels, hundreds of bone rattling potholes, burro and lama road blocks all serve notice that this is rarified air. Up through several climates, we reach the Andean condor observation point...only to discover that seeing one's feet is difficult due to a cloud cover so thick it looks like we are standing in milk. It is a chore to see the person standing right next to you, let alone spotting a condor or the river we can hear raging below us.

However, the decision to wait a few extra minutes prior to our decent pays off.

A break in the cloud reveals the absolute magnificence of Colca Canyon. For a few brief moments we were able to see all the way to the bottom of the deepest canyon in the world. Literally two miles deep (twice the Grand Canyon), what looks like a creek below us, is a raging, powerful river fed by the veins of water falling off the mammoth cliffs of this gorge.

Cactus surround us as we look down into what turns into a jungle below, a fantastic contrast we were able to witness for a few fleeting moments. As we attempt to gain an appreciation for what we are looking at the cloud curtain closes we can still hear the violent crushing water that carves this amazing canyon. Unparalleled and unforgettable, even if only for a moment.
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