Mmm, this Alpaca tastes like fish...

Trip Start Apr 23, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The main reason people go to Arequipa is because it is the base point for visiting the worlds deepest canyon - Colca Canyon, more than twice the depth of its more famous counterpart the Grand Canyon.

Nervous after hearing horror stories of how difficult the tours were, because lets face it, Im hardly at the peak of my physical abilities... especially when it only costs 50p for a twenty deck of fags. I was glad to discover that I would only trek some parts and be transported by bus for the more difficult parts... Score!

The first stop was a lookout point with a spectacular view of El Misti and other snow-capped Andean mountains, surrounded by hundreds of wild Alpacas... my first proper experience of Perus famous South American camel. Yeah, alpacas are actually a type of camel... Still debating if this is true or not though...

Descending into the actual canyon was amazing: my finger just wouldnt click the camera shutter quickly enough to snap the countless beautiful shots. We got to Chivay in time for lunch, but feeling rather tender due to the altitude I opted to chew on some coca leaves, a traditional remedy for altitude sickness, also used to combat hunger. Chewing coca leaves is like emptying lawn mower cuttings into your mouth - they taste disgusting! After a handful I gave up, a pitiful attempt considering locals can have a ball of 40g tucked in their cheek, rinsing my now numb mouth out several times, numb because of a certain alkaloid present that forms the raw product for cocaine...

After a relatively easy trek to our hostel for the night we headed to the hot springs. Set right in the middle of the canyon, the view was incredible; the water roasting hot; and with a Pisco Sour (raw egg, lime juice, Pisco and Cinnamon) in hand, it was bliss. For dinner that night I decided it was time for me to savor some Alpaca. Pussying out a bit, I thought Id ease myself into it by having an Alpaca pizza instead of the full monty - an alpaca steak. Digging in my first thoughts were Well this is a bit strange... A sort of hybrid beef, pork and fish combo... Mentioning this to a Mexican guy on the tour group he looked a bit puzzled and asked what Id ordered. Pointing out my choice on the menu I was met by a great deal of giggling: turned out Id ordered an Alpaca and salmon pizza... time to learn some Spanish?

That night the hostel was freezing and having underestimated the drop in temperature I was left to go fetal in my shorts, bundleded under my blankets and those I managed to pull off a spare bed before my fingers succumbed to frost bite.

Afraid to shower in the sub-zero conditions the next morning, I settled for the best part of a full can of deodorant - just as good in my eyes. That morning we walked to a nearby village to see some traditional dancing, very entertaining but I was somewhat distracted, trying to rub some heat into my now purple legs. From there we were driven part of the way to the condor look-out point, where we were dropped off a short trek away in order to take pictures of the canyon. Colca Canyon was beautiful to say the least - I seem to keep having these experiences where I find it hard to believe that places like this actually exist.

At the condor lookout point we were all a bit disappointed when there appeared to be an extreme lack of the winged giants. After half an hour we were about ready to give up when four massive birds glided past us... I have never moved as fast as I did then when I whipped out my camera. For the next hour we tried sporadically to get the perfect shot, while admiring the beauty of the endangered condors as they soared deep down into the depths of the canyon.
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