Peru in a hurry

Trip Start Feb 21, 2006
Trip End Sep 11, 2006

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Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, June 25, 2006

Having only allowed ourselves just under 2 weeks to explore Peru before flying to Colombia we had a bit of a whirlwind tour of south Peru. A few highlights -

Arequipa/Colca Canyon
Arequipa is a gorgeous city with lovely old buildings all made out of white volcanic stone. It was also quite a novelty to be in a "normal" city after Cuzco. After a night there we took the bus to a little village called Cabanaconde in the Colca Canyon, which is the second deepest canyon in the world (the deepest canyon is actually right nearby but for some reason no-one seems to go there!). We took a steep walk down to the bottom of the canyon where there is a small oasis with a couple of campsites with pools and for the first time in weeks it was properly hot. After an afternoon lying around working on our tans we decided against the 4 hour trek back up the hill and hired some
The next day we got up early and took a bus to the Cruz del Condor - an overpriced tourist platform over a spot where a family of condors nest. Our gripes about the rip off Peru tourist industry aside, we saw quite a few condors as they glided effortlessly across the valleys hunting, and even one posing for photos just a short distance from the platform - they are enormous, powerful, stunning birds that the Incas considered messengers to the gods, and it was fantastic to see them.

This is a tiny oasis in the middle of a desert that is a favourite backpackers haunt. Although the place was absolutely freezing when we arrived at 6.30am due to a damp fog that enveloped the whole place and which didnīt lift until about 10am, once the sun comes out it is lovely and warm. We spent 3 or 4 days there alternating between the football and the hammocks, not making the mistake of getting out of bed before 10 again! We also went out into the desert in a dune buggy - they drove us around the sea of sand dunes at enormous speeds, roaring up and down the steep hills like we were on a rollercoaster, and then took us sandboarding which was heaps of fun.

This is a little town on the edge of a national park, and there are islands nearby that have huge colonies of penguins, pelicans and several other types of birds and sea lions pretty dead and we felt quite intimidated every time we left our room by the number of people following us trying to sell tours or get us into their restaurants - itīs hard to have a relaxing walk along the seaside with 3 women with menus hovering nearby.

Big, modern city on the coast that at this time of the year is blanketed in a dreary grey fog that sucks all the colour out of the sea and the sky - we pretty much got in and out as fast as possible!
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