The flight of the condor

Trip Start May 17, 2006
Trip End May 2007

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Flag of Peru  ,
Saturday, November 25, 2006

From Arequipa we drove to Chivay. We crossed the altiplano and saw loats of lamas, alpacas and also vicunas which are a rare member of the camelid family. We went up and over a pass of 4,900m. We didn't suffer with the altitude but one of our party is very poorly and won't be doing the Inca Trail.

Chivay is a small town at the head of the Colca Canyon and the sole reason for visiting is to watch the condors soaring over the Canyon. Whilst everyone else ate in the hotel restaurant in the evening, Mark and I went into town and joined the locals at street stalls selling noodles and chicken. We also had a couple of glasses of Calientes or Hot Ones made from black tea, pisco and various herbs and spices. A bit of a risk stomach wise but we were both fine.

We were up early the next day for condor spotting and drove a couple of hours up the canyon. We arrived at 8am and secured good viewing spots over the valley. Then we waited!!! After an hour and a half 2 condors appeared gliding on the thermals. We were so lucky as they passed by at eye level and then circled up above us. It really was a two minute thrill but it was worth it to see these vast birds.

That evening we were due to camp wild on our way to Cusco. It rained all afternoon and the thought of piching canvas tents on the boggy altiplano was not appealing. By about 5pm and with light fading fast we came across some abandoned railway buildings and the decision was made to spend the night there. We were so lucky was although abandoned the roof was intact and so we could pitch our tents in the rooms. It was still really chilly but much better than camping in the rain. The mulled wine we made also helped keep out the chill! During the night a train came passed which scared us all to death - not sure why we were so surprised but we though it was a truck leaving the road and heading straight for us.
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