Chivay, Colca Canyon and Condors

Trip Start Jun 03, 2012
Trip End Feb 20, 2013

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Flag of Peru  , Arequipa,
Saturday, October 13, 2012

The ride over the Andes took us up to nearly 5000m and many of us felt the altitude badly, me included. The road rises quickly and the landscape becomes empty. There have been people living here but for what ever reason they are gone now. The hills are littered with abandoned stone houses. What remains though are many stone built animal enclosures and isolated farms with herds of llamas and alpacas spread over the grassy plains in between the steep mountain escarpments occasionally there is a patch of green indicating a water course and this attracts many animals.

We did manage to spot the elusive vicuña. They are found in small groups of 3 or 4. They are particularly difficult to spot as they blend into their background perfectly. These creatures are very delicate and shy but I understand that the wool makes lovely warm coats.

Everyone was glad to get over the pass and begin the descent to Chivay. A number of our group had left Arequipa a day early to hike the Colca Canyon and we were pleased to meet up with them for the evening. Chivay is a small mountain town making the best of the tourist trade. An interesting market and a supper of Alpaca steak rounded off a good truck day.

Up early and off to see the condors, a bit of a rough drive but the beautiful Colca Valley made up for it. The valley is deep and the sides are all terraced. Well irrigated from the river the valley forms a green ribbon against the rather stack mountains.

The road is dusty and busy with white mini vans making a early morning dash to Condor Cross. A short walk along the hillside overlooking the valley and in the distance there are a couple of condors gliding along the valley below us. It only gets better, as we approach the lookout we can see up to 8 condors gliding aloft. They are mainly immature or females as few have the stack black and white markings of the male...then around a corner ther is a large condor flying straight at us on our level ...just like a B52 heading into land. It came really close!

Plenty of photo opportunities, with bird wheeling above and below us, as well as an obliging group who perched on an outcrop posing like a boy band.

A great morning followed by a long truck day with us arriving in Puno after 9, which seemed very late after a 5 o'clock start.
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