Today we visited Colca Caynon (three times as deep as the Grand Caynon!) although we did not go to the bottom. The main attraction for today was supposed to be seeing the Condors fly, but to be honest the stunning scenery of the Canyon Valley was just as breathtaking. There were so many inca terraces forming an amazing patchwork appearance on the horizon, a sight I had not really seen before. We passed through small villages and learnt about the different types of hats the ladies wore (in the shape of mountains, which also stemmed from the skull deformations the incas favored before the Spanish outlawed it). We made a few stops at craft stalls, but to be honest I'm so over these now I just kind of admired the scenery as I did not want to shop.
We arrived at the viewing platform for the Condors a little ahead of the majority of tourists so we were able to secure a good spot. While we sat on the rocks awaiting the spectacle that is the flight of the condors (the second largest bird in the world) the warm sun came out and the breeze started to pick up, surely this was a good omen to get a viewing of these magnificent birds?
Then we saw one. In the distance at first, catching the thermals and gliding backwards and forwards, then slowly it started it's way down the Caynon and flew just meters in front of us, as if to say "you came to see me, here I am". I've never seen such a large bird before and you get kind of transfixed watching it glide off into the distance. Now everyone was eagerly waiting for another sighting, up to 25 birds have been seen at one time soaring in the Canyon if the conditions are right.
Nothing. We are left waiting for half an hour more before another Condor makes an appearance, by this time our friends from Dragoman have arrived, along with more and more tourists (the area is pretty packed now) and we are chatting with them (Betsy and I both miss this group and the Dragoman bus). The viewing of the second condor is even more spectacular as this time it flys right above us. I tried to take a photos, yup pretty much impossible to catch it and do it justice.
We are lucky and see around 6 or 7 birds in the hour and a half we spend at the mirador. Then our small group do a little walk (easy after the inca trail) along the ridge of the canyon towards our tour bus to see more of the canyon and experience the beautiful scenery.
We drove back to the village for lunch then made the trip back to Arequipa. Betsy and I had a lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant in the Monastery to celebrate our last night together. Tomorrow Betsy heads off to Lima and me to Nasca. We ended in a rooftop bar (there is some good nightlife in this town) to meet our Dragonman friends for cocktails, it turns out their hostel is pretty much next door to our hotel.