Flight of the Condor
Trip Start Jun 04, 2009
79Trip End Sep 06, 2010
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The bumpy uneven roads finally showed us the way to an over night stop before Colca Canyon. The main attraction at the canyon is the giant condors that soar around in the mornings on the thermal airs rising from the canyon floor. This means it’s important to get up early to see them so we stayed in a small village near to the national park entrance
The next morning we got up at 5am and rebuffed the hostel breakfast at a pricey £3 each (which we later realised to our cost meant we didn’t get any food until 4pm that day!) then started heading out to see the condors, first we drove through the Colca Valley which in itself was beautiful. Stunning Inca and pre-Inca terraces that for a change are not owned by the government but instead still in use by the local people who farm it in the same way it would have been used hundreds of years ago. This simple fact alone made me feel very inspired by the place. I know there are many reasons to make sure that countries preserve their history/landmarks and use these to generate tourism however this is something different. I felt that for the first time in any country I have visited there was a real sense that we were not just visiting the countries historical sites but the actual history of this place was so intrinsically part of the local people there that it was still alive. I love that it wasn’t taken away from them to ‘preserve the history’ because to me the simple fact they are still using it and it’s visible to see is the best preservation of its history that there could be. It’s really no surprise that it is being used when you start to understand just how much planning went into these terraces. There is one giant rock placed by a clear view point of the valley by the Inca’s which has carved into it a ‘blue-print’ of where all the terraces were going to be, and now are, and if you pour water onto the top it moves down the terraces showing the drainage system that fertilizes all the levels and in actuality comes from the glacial melt in the mountains above
Next stop was Colca Canyon, I’d love to tell you more about the canyon itself but in truth we didn’t really get to see much of it. Our one and only stop was Condor Cross which is near the entrance to the canyon so we mainly got to just see it in the distance and in truth if you want an impressive canyon The Grand Canyon has the winning hand in that game, but if your looking for giant pterodactyl like birds swooping over your head you can’t do much better than Colca! We first saw the condors from a distance and even then they looked HUGE, incredibly majestic and completing big swooping circuits from the canyon floor right up to the view point and above our heads. Needless to say we were not the only people there to witness the spectacle, the view point was crammed with people all trying to elbow each other out of the way to get to the front where you could look down into the canyon and see the condors starting to rise up. Everyone there seemed to have enormous SLR cameras to capture the moment, and I mean with lenses as long as my arm! I was worried when I lost Steve for a while that he was trying work the situation to his advantage and elbow people over the edge to grab their cameras from them, instead he had other plans
When we finally settled into positions that meant less elbows and more condors we were treated to a fantastic show of swooping and acrobatics with one particular condor coming straight for us and only pulling up at the last minute. This of course makes it very hard to photograph them as if you are zoomed in on one and it starts coming straight for you with a three meter wingspan you do have to move the camera to check for sure how far away it is as a self-preservation instinct. Therefore I missed a lot of great photos. Little did I know it at the time but at that very moment of terror one condor decided to not only swoop but also poop on me and unfortunately I didn’t notice my newly decorated fleece until 5 hours later once I had used it as a blanket for the coach ride home! A souvenir of a lovely day out at least.
Lots of Love
Amy and Swooping Steve
P.s completly forgot until I was adding the photos but we had a tornado at the side of the road on the way back and then about four appeared going all the way up to the sky!! Very exciting, but we couldn't convince the driver to drive into it so it's not really a very long story...!