Colca Canyon

Trip Start Jan 31, 2006
Trip End Dec 11, 2006

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Saturday, October 14, 2006


To add to my joy at staying in a dingy, airless room with its only window looking out onto the indoor car park, we were woken at 6am by a band of Peruvian pan pipe players. I thought they were out on the street and was ready to go out and tell them to move along please, but decided to have breakfast first and discovered that they were actually in our hotel restaurant! Breakfast to pan pipes at 7am is horrific. Being asked for tips at that time in the morning for torturing us with their music is unforgivable. It is safe to say my mood was now rather black.

I'm afraid things didn't get much better after that. We boarded our bus for the long journey to the Colca Canyon and, while the bus was very comfortable, I was not. On our journey, at the highest point we reached an altitude of 4800 metres, before coming back down to our hotel near Chivay at 3633 metres. Jane was still in a terrible way and I was feeling pretty dreadful myself. Thank goodness for Rita and Cecilia, the Irish nurses, who were a walking pharmacy, and John, who had managed to get 100 altitude sickness tablets before coming on the trip. I doped myself up on anything that was on offer and Lula gave me some alcohol to sniff, which apparently helps, and then just sat through the journey feeling grim. In case you don't know, the symptoms of altitude sickness are similar to the flu, with aching bones, shivers and a temperature, a terrible headache, nausea (and vomiting if you are really lucky, like me) and a runny tummy. Not the best really...

We reached our hotel, the Mamayacchi, in a little village near Chivay and were treated to the most amazing view from our lovely room (see the photo). It was a welcome contrast to the dungeon room in Arequipa, and I spent the rest of the day in bed feeling sorry for myself. Meanwhile, Richard spent the afternoon at the local hot springs with the rest of the group.

The next morning, we had to get up at 5am to drive to Cruz del Condor in the hope of seeing condors. Thankfully, the cocktail of drugs from my suppliers, Rita, Cecilia and John, had me in slightly better shape so I was able to go on the trip. We reached Cruz del Condor at 8am and joined the hordes of people waiting to see the birds. Sadly, we waited for an hour and didn't manage to see anything, apart from the magnificent views of the canyon. To make up a little for the disappointment, we were taken on a beautiful hour long hike along the edge of the canyon to see some more of the amazing scenery, before going back to the hotel for lunch.

Unfortunately it was Richard's turn to start feeling ill and so the two of us spent the rest of the afternoon in the room feeling pretty dreadful. I did manage to go out with everyone else that evening for dinner, where we saw a great display of dancing, but unfortunately my menu choices were completely inedible, which was becoming something of a theme on this part of the trip...

And that was the Colca Canyon! It was really beautiful and I wish we hadn't felt so ill as we could have gone out and seen more of it, but altitude sickness is really debilitating, so it just wasn't to be.
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