Arequipa, Colca canyon & Cusco
Trip Start Sep 22, 2011
83Trip End Aug 11, 2012
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VERY cold night camping! Think I underestimated how cold it would be at night at high altitude & have been lulled into a false sense of security by camping in the desert! & to top it off I had cold shower in morning! Well stuck my head under to wash my hair :-) Woke up at 6.30am to get mini-bus to Colca Canyon. We stopped off on the way to by Coca leaves (not actually drugs so donīt worry!) which are chewed by the locals to help with altitude sickness. Our guide showed us how to make them into a little parcel & put them between our cheek & teeth to make the leaves wet then you chew them. They had a slightly nutty flavour but also (unsurprisingly) tasted like chewing leaves! I just kept mine at the side of my mouth as they were horrible to chew!
Our drive to Colca Canyon was 4hrs but we stopped off at lots of markets along the way. The markets are amazing! I need a whole new suitcase :-) I brought a really pretty multi-coloured scarf made from alpaca wool for 5 pounds. Also tried matte de coca which is tea made from coca leaves & other herbs to help with altitude sickness & stomach issues. It was ok but not so keen as bit like herbal tea.
Our final stop before lunch was at the highest point (4900m). Felt very breathless just walking around slowly. Paul got really affected by the altitude but the guide was brilliant and really helped him start to feel better. Last night a game was started called truck murder. We had to pick a name, action & object from cups to say how we had to kill someone on the truck & the object of the game is to be the last one standing. I took my opportunity to kill my first victim, Alex, while he was taking a photo. I had to hit him with a condom (!!) & say ýouīre deadī. Very funny game! My next one is Dave (the driver) with an Ipod while heīs holding hands. That should be interesting!
We stopped for lunch at a buffet restaurant (5 pounds a head) which had loads of local food
Next stop was Chivay where we went to the hotel (Colca Inn Hotel) & fell in love with the bed & huge blankets. Heaven after 4 nights of camping! Paul had a lie down & I joined the others for a walk around the town & up to some ruins with the guide. The canyon looked more like a mountain valley compared to the Grand Canyon but still very pretty. The guide pointed out all the terraces which used for farming on. Each terrace is surrounded by walls to create micro-climates in each field which allows them to grow up to 300 varieties of potato & 600 varieties of corn!
After walk we went to the hot springs. The water comes out of the moutain/volcano at 80·c & is filtered into pools at a cosy 38·c. It was heaven! We all got a Colca sour which differs from pisco sours as it uses cactus fruit. It was sweeter than pisco sour so we prefered it.
Went out for meal in a restaurant which had traditional music & dancing
Next morning drove to see condors & saw some on the way to the set viewing platform so we stopped off to take pictures incase we didnīt see any later. They are hugh birds with a 3m wing span & a body lenght of 1.5m. They were impressive birds to watch glide on the warm air pockets. Unfortunatly photos donīt do them much justice as they end up looking like black spots. We arrived at the official viewing spot (Flight of the condors) and waited here to see them. The canyon here is much more impressive - about 1 mile wide & 2 miles deep. Luckily we did see some condors & took lots more photos as these flew much closer. Afterwards we went for a 30min walk & the guide showed us some things in the canyon & the local flowers. We then got on the mini-bus to set off back to Arequipa.
Back in Arequipa we walked into town to phone parents & wander around the markets. Paul brought some multi-coloured trousers. Went to bed well wrapped up this time!
New month - 1st October! Had a truck day driving 9hrs to Cusco. Very beautiful drive through the mountains. Have aclimatised to the altitude so no problems today. Stopped off at a market & brought some amazing wool socks to keep my feet warm on the Inca Trail. Also had a picture with a boy, alpaca, & me holding a lamb! We got held up at some road works for about 30mins so took the opportunity to pull everything out & make lunch to much amusement of everyone else in the queue! Arrived in Cusco at 6.30pm & had 45mins to get ready for tea. Iīm getting better at showering & getting ready in no time!! Went out for an Indian buffet then headed to an Irish bar for drinks. Paul was very happy to get a pint of Guiness! Afterwards we went to a club & somehow managed to stay out til 3am!
LIE IN!!!! Soooo happy! Didntīt get up til 11. Me & Paul walked around Cusco. Very pretty city (the nicest so far). Tons of markets (Yay!) - I brought a bag. Brought a beautiful oil painting too (rolled up for ease of transportation!). Came back to hotel to chillout then met everyone else for a childhood themed fancy dress night. I went as red riding hood with my red waterproof hanging off my head & Paul went as a cow boy. Went to Chez Maggy for pizza which was very good. Went out for a couple of drinks but tired after last night so back in bed by 11pm
Met a couple of girls at 10am & headed to market for some smoothies for breakfast. They were amazing & only cost 3 pounds. We fully intended to walk up the hill to a big statue of Jesus but girls being girls we just spent the day wandering around the markets spending money :-) I brought (after much deliberation) a jumper made of alpaca wool too keep me warm. I think Iīm spending all of Paulīs souviner money too!! Went for lunch at Jackīs cafe which was amazing. I had a toasted chicken & avocado sandwich with chips & REAL tea. Been desperate for that! Paul had a fajita with beans, eggs. We have a meeting about the Inca trail tonight then start it tomorrow for next 4 days. ARGHHHHH!!!!!
Well I think I have given Paul a run for his money in terms for rambling so I will leave it there. Next blog - Inca trail!
Love to everyone xxx