Cañon Del Colca,Chivay,Cruz Del Condor and Coca
Trip Start Jan 08, 2007
40Trip End Mar 13, 2007
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During our drive we had the opportunity to see llamas, alpacas and vicuñas. There are 4 different types of camelids in Peru; llamas, alpacas, vicuñas and guanacos. Llamas and alpacas are domesticated in South America were as vicuñas and guanacos are wild and protected. It is illegal to kill a vicuña or a guanaco. Vicuñas are only used for their wool and a person has to have a special license to use it. Vicuña wool is quite expensive and item s made from it are expensive as well. Llamas and alpacas are used both for their wool and their meat. Items made from alpaca wool are quite cheap here. Baby alpaca wool is the best quality and is a little more expensive. Llama and alpaca steak are very popular to eat here and i must say alpaca steak is very delicious. It was hard to try at first because they are so cute but after my first taste I was hooked. Counldn´t help but order it again on a few occasions. We saw a whole herd of llamas and alpacas cross the road right in front of our van, so we stopped for pics. We were also fortunate to see a few vicuñas. They are so cute, they kind of look like a cross between a deer and an alpaca. They only live in the highland areas.
Percy also told us about Peru´s National tree called the Quina
Also during this drive we saw the Chali mountain chain. This chain of mountains divides the oceans in the highlands. We also saw Mt. Ampato (6288 m), where ´´Juanita, the ice princess´´- the frozen Inca child maiden sacrificed on the summit of this mountain over 500 years ago, was found. For the Incas, mountains were gods who could kill by volcanic eruption, avalanche or climatic catastrophes. These violent deities could only be appeased by sacrifices and over 20 similar child sacrifices have now been discovered atop various Andean mountains since 1954
When we got out of the van at this altitude of 4,800 m, we were feeling a little ill. Altitude sickness is common for tourists, but some people get it worse where they need to have oxygen via mask, etc. We were feeling dizzy, nauseous and had really dry mouthes. I also had a killer headache. Mike said he felt like he was drunk. It was also a little hard to breathe. Our breathing was abit more laboured. I had jumped over this rock to avoid a muddy area and was out of breath after I did it. It was so crazy!!!!! To help with altitude sickness South Americans chew coca leaves. Growing coca leaves is one of the biggest agricultural industries in South America, these leaves are used in the production of cocaine. The practice of chewing coca leaves goes back centuries and is still common among peasant farmers of the Andean altiplano and miners. The leaves are chewed with a little ash or bicarbonate of soda, as the alkalinity releases the mild stimulant contained in the leaf cells. Prolonged chewing dulls the pangs of hunger, thirst, cold and fatigue, which are all symptoms of altitude sickness. They also increase oxygenation in the bloodstream enabling breathing to be easier. If you don´t want to chew the bitter tasting leaves, you can drink coca tea or suck on coca candies. Mike and I prepared for the trip by buying some coca candies and usually with every breakfast you have the option to drink a coca tea. You can order it almost anywhere or buy the leaves
The end of our drive for the day brought us to the town of Chivay. Chivay's population is about 10,000 people. In Chivay we could see the Rio Colca (the Colca River). This river is the longest river in Peru. Our guide dropped us at our hotel which was a little place sort of in the coutryside, away from the town. We prepared to go for a dip in the local Hotsprings as it was raining and we didn't want to walk around. The hotsprings were wonderful. it was raining a little bit and was a bit foggy out so the atmosphere with the mountains around us was sort of muysterious feeling. We both ordered a Pisco sour and sat back and relaxed. The waiter just brought us our drinks right in the hotsprings, we didn't have to move. After the springs we prepared for dinner with our group. We went to a peña, which is a bar/restaurant that hosts informal folk music gatherings/performances. We had dinner and i ordered a plate of alpaca steak. We then watched the performance of musica folklorica (traditional Andean music) and dance. We even had the opportunity ti go up and dance as well. I tried really hard to avoid eye contact with the dancers as I did not want to go up and dance but they saw me!!!!!!! Traditional Andean music involves playing wind and percussion intruments. The quena (flute) is made of bamboo. The zampoña or siku (in Quecha), is a set of panpipes with 2 rows of bamboo cnaes
The next day we were up at 5 a.m. to prepare for our drive from Chivay through the Colca Canyon area. We passed through the small town of Yanque where we had views of the sacred mountain Walcawalca. There we saw an old church(Iglesia De Cabanaconde), traditional dancers and highland women standing with their llamas and alpacas for photos. of course you have to pay them if you want a photo of them. Some of the women also had hawks sitting on their shoulders or on a perch and you could pay money to have the hawk sit on your shoulder. I managed to sneak a couple of pics without paying. We continued on after this to the Colca Valley lookout. It was breathtaking!!!!!! You could see all of the pre-Incan terracing down in the valley. These terraces were used for crops back then and are still used today. Our next stop was Cruz Del Condor, which is a lookout to spot teh condor. Condors are protected today as farmers were killing them due to their beleifs that the condors were attacking baby llamas and alpacas. But this beleif is not actually true as condors' claws are not like the eagles' claws. Eagles claws are all long and enable then to grab their prey with their claws whereas the condor's claws are all long except for one which is short and so they cannot pick up prey like an eagle can