It's that condor the Colca Canyon

Trip Start Oct 16, 2009
Trip End Nov 01, 2009

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What I did
Explored the Colca Canyon, spotted condors, fretted about my bags

Flag of Peru  , Colca Canyon,
Saturday, October 24, 2009

On the plus side today Acolca Tours turned up for us. On the downside the guide, Victor, seemed a bit non-plussed by our luggage arrangments en route to Puno.....oh well!

The drive to Chivay was long and quite arduous. The tour company were great as we made a stop for water and coco sweets for the altitude on the outskirts of Arequipa and a late stop for coco tea. We actually had some in a flask which the hotel in Arequipa had kindly made up for us. I am sure this helped.

We climbed steadily over several hours eventually reaching 4900 metres above sea level. This was a photo stop and a toilet stop. These were the highest toilets I have ever used and perhaps the windiest as well!

We stopped at various points to get up close and personal with some alpacas and llamas and views of the volcanoes. Then we began our descent into the Canyon towards Chivay. The scenery is spectacular and the canyon immense.

Our hotel in Chivay is the Pozo Del Cielo and we are the only people on our tour staying here. It is a beutiful hotel and we can thoroughly recommend it. if anyone is is interested.

Adobe buildings, roaring fires and a lovely view over the valley. Each room had its own theme and name. We were in Santa Andrea. It was too far to walk to town (in particular to walk back uphill) at 3600 metres above sea level so we chilled for a bit. Again hotel staff were good and got us hot water for coco tea. Ole  popped out to have a couple of photos taken looking down on the town but even he didn't fancy hopping down.

We were picked up again to be taken to the outdoor thermal baths in Chivay. This cost $10 which was for the transport and entry fee which we thought was good value. The baths were really relaxing though it felt cold when we got out.

It was back to the hotel for dinner. We had a splurge and ordered a half bottle of Peruvian wine with our meal. This was the most expensive meal we had during the holiday but it was lovely. Altitude and the long day caught up with us (perhaps the wine helped as well). We had an infeasibly early start the next day so it was off to bed. We had fresh hot water for coco tea in the room and hot water bottles in the bed. Fantastic!

25th October 2009

Once again this seemed such a good idea when we booked it but bowling up for breakfast at 5am seemed a bit excessive on holiday! Victor banged on our door at 5:45 and luckily we were ready to go. The drive was dusty and bumpy and included stop offs in one or two villages for photos.

We got to the Cruz Del Condor for 8am. Victor was very 'eagle-eyed' if you pardon the pun and reckoned he knew the best viewing point. Nothing happened for half an hour just other buses disgorging their passengers. Suddenly we spotted a condor in the distance, riding on the air currents. It disappeared and everyone sighed. Suddenly like the helicopters in Apocalyse Now it rose up in front of the view point. Around three feet away from the crowd. It was huge. We were all stunned to silence and unable to take any pictures. It swooped down again below us but when it rose again it was quite a distance away. Although we didn't get a clear photo we were so lucky to see one so close up.

We watched the condor through binoculars for a while before it drifted too far away. Soon the viewing time was over.

We were then taken on a short hike along the canyon rim whilst Victor explained about the wild life and the scenery. He was an excellent guide.

Then we began the drive back to Chivay. We stopped at various villages and also laybys where ladies were selling woven items. and souvenirs. I thought this photo came out very well. We did buy a purse off her!

We went for lunch in Chivay. After a quick rendition of El Condor Pasa by the musician it was off for a quick ten minute look round Chivay itself where some children and a baby Alpaca managed to reduce me to tears! Not sure if it was the children or the Alpaca....

Then it was off to our rendezvous with our bags (everything crossed here!) and our car to Puno. It was a long journey back to the service area where we had our coco teas the day before and anticipating whether our bags and driver would be there!

They all were. We had a quick loo break, made friends with some Aussies in the long queue for the toilets and said our goodbyes to the rest of the group - who now had to go back to Arequipa only to go on to Puno/Juliaca in the morning. Some of them wished they were doing it our way. More expensive than the bus but less expensive than flying and saved us a whole day.

Then we were off, private car, (cheating I know but such a time saver) to Puno. Our driver spoke a little English and us not as much Spanish as we'd like. He offered us the chance to photograph lakes and flamingoes on the way and we could have stopped more often. It was a 4 hour drive and must have been tiring for him. The roads were narrow and twisty and huge lorries were often coming in the opposite direction! Glad I wasn't driving.

However just as it was going dark we arrived into the outskirts of Puno and got our 2nd glimpse of Lake Titicaca below us as we dropped down into the town..... 
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