Endurance test

Trip Start Sep 23, 2011
Trip End Dec 19, 2011

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Flag of Peru  , Colca Canyon,
Friday, November 11, 2011

The three day trek started with a 03:00am pick up from the hostel in Arequipa. Then we drove to Chivay, one of the bigger towns on the edge of the Colca Canyon. Here we had breakfast and continued into the canyon towards Cabanoconde. On the way we stopped at a viewpoint where Condor's are often seen. And we got lucky! But unfortunately I was a bit too slow with my camera... Near Cabanoconde we were dropped off to start our trek.

Day one; descend 1000 meters in altitude (more in distance as the path does not go straight down the mountain of course), and then cross the Colca river at the bottom of the canyon and climb 600 meters in altitude again to get to the village where we would have lunch. Both going down and uphill where quite a challenge. Negotiating the uneven pathways of rocks, stone steps and sand in the burning sun was a huge endurance test. After lunch we walked to the next village to our homestay for the night. The accommodation was simple but the family was very friendly and cooked us a lovely meal, although the soup did smell of farmyard... :-)

Our guide Angel told us the next day would be easy, approx one and a half to two hours walk along a flat road to the oasis Sangalie. Here we would stay in a hostel with a lovely swimming pool and could relax for the afternoon. The trail to this oasis turned out to be 'Peruvian flat'. In other words the path lead us 600 meters down in altitude to the bottom of the canyon and again was a combination of rocks, uneven stone steps and sand. But the treat of the beautiful gardens at the bottom and the swimming pool made up for the hard work it was to walk down there!

On day three we would be hiking back to the top of the canyon edge, so we would climbing 1000 meters in altitude again. Angel decided it would be a good idea to start as early as possible to avoid the heat and the sun. So we agreed to set off a 04:30am in the morning. The trek up to the top usually takes an average of 3 hours, but us girls in the group were a little slower as the heat was getting to us. So I expected it would take me at least 4 hours to get to the top, and believe me at 08:00am it was already so hot in the canyon that I really did not want to be climbing up a mountain if I could avoid it.

We were all very proud of ourselves for making it to the top again (some people hire a donkey or a mule, we did hire a mule but only to carry our bags to the top and we did the hiking ourselves). I did it in 2 hours, 50 minutes so I was really chuffed with myself! :-)

On the way back we stopped for lunch and at a couple of view points, one of which was at an altitude of 4910 meters. We also had the option to visit the hot springs in the Canyon, with all of us having aching muscles we thought this would be a good idea. The water was ssssoooooo hot! The first pool was around 39 degrees, I couldn't stay in for long and went looking for a cooler one. We found one which was a couple of degrees cooler and was just about do-able to sit in for 15 minutes.
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