At the time of writing this we have just completed a three day trek to the Colca Canyon. What a brilliant experience!
We were picked up at 3.30 in the morning and then had a 3 hour journey to a small town called Chivay where we had a breakfast, well bread, cheese and ham, a Peruvian breakfast!
After half an hour we all piled back in to the minibus and we went to our next stop to watch the Condors soaring above the canyon. I kept falling asleep but Sarah said the scenery was stunning. All of a sudden our guide shouted at us and we looked out of the window and there was a condor gliding just above the bus, what a massive bird. We didn't realise before but a condor is a type of vulture that feeds on dead animals such as Llama. It's supposed to be the largest bird in the world!
We went on to the lookout where we saw a couple more but they were a lot further away. Sarah got a couple of shots with the big lens. A lot of people were saying if we had been there earlier we would have seen a lot more as they like to fly in the cooler air at about 5am. It amazed me that there were still loads of people there selling all sorts of handmade goods in the middle of nowhere. Next stop was the start of the trek!!
It turns out there were only 4 us on the trek and we were with another couple from the UK, Stuart and Charlene. They were really nice and we had one Guide between us Yuly, she was great and spoke just enough English. Between us all we managed to get what she was telling us.
It was a 4 hour hike mostly down hill to our first nights stop, it was really hot and we had to walk through the midday sun, along the way we kept stopping and Yuly would explain where we were and also all of the local plants such as the cactus which the natives use as shampoo. It was REALLY hot so we all had to keep stopping and resting where we could find shade and take on water.
We eventually reached the bridge over the river at the bottom and then started up the otherside towards our bed for the night. Whilst heading up we were shown the cochineal lava that were growing on the cactus. It's a type of parasite and Yuly showed us how it went red when crushed and proceeded to put it under all our eyes like war paint. Cochineal is used to colour red lipstick and fabrics as well as a red food dye.
We were also shown a plant that looked like thyme and was meant to be really good for altitude sickness. If you rubbed it on your skin it also acted as an insect repellant.
When we got to camp we settled, had cold showers and were sat down chatting and waiting for tea when Yuly came over and asked us if we wanted to look around and also collect some wood for a fire. We all said yes and were kitted up with a Peruvian cloth sling to put the wood in. Sarah also had a fetching Peruvian hat!
We started off and seemed to going for ages crossing peoples farms and going past their houses. We stopped a couple of times to look at the plants and also taste some of the fruits, we first tried a lemin which we thought was a lemon but it seemed to be a cross between that and an orange, it was lovely. Then we went to Yuly's parents house where we tried loads more fruits, there were also all the guinea pigs that had been bred for eating. Sarah was a bit upset by this as there were some baby ones and she wanted to take them home. We headed back after helping with a trilingual cross word that was really difficult, collected some wood and then tied the cloth slings over our shoulders. I was amazed how the wood didn't fall out. We headed back and on the way we met Yuly's Mum who gave us each an orange, I had a small packet of Oreo biscuits and gave her those as an exchange.
Back at camp we has dinner which was nice and then went to bed, it gets really cold when the sun goes down and we were dressed up in hats and gloves but once you get under the covers it was fine. The Peruvians all seem to used a very heavy hand woven blanket which is more like a rug but it keeps you warm.
Next morning we got up had breakfast and proceeded on the next part of the journey to the oasis. The first part was steep but then it levelled out so it was a bit easier. We stopped at a small family museum and tried the local Inca beer which is made out of corn. It wasn't too bad and not that strong as it had only been fermenting for two days. If it had been four or five it would have been a lot stronger.
Along the walk we came across a 17th century bell tower which looked really cool, we tool some pics of the outside and then proceeded to climb the inside! It was really old and the stairs and ceiling were so small we had to stoop to get to the top. The views were great and being in the old structure was a highlight on our trek for me.
We continued our trek back downhill to the river and eventually came to another bridge where we started the climb to the oasis. It seemed to take forever and we kept passing the other hostel's with their pools which was a tease! Then around the next corner we had arrived, a quick drink, then to our to our shack to change and then in to the pool, how nice it was to be cold and refreshed. We had the afternoon to chill so we spent some time by the pool and then decided to have a quick explore down by the river.
We headed down some paths and after a few wrong turns ended up at the river which was amazing. I went jumping on the rocks and having a look around to see what I could find. After a bit of messing around we headed back to get ready for tea and to go to bed as we had an early start ahead.
Our bed for the night was basically a bamboo shed with a straw roof, very basic. Ours even came with a mouse which woke us up in the night going through the rubbish we had left on the side.
At half four we got up ready for our five o'clock start. We had to trek for about three hours, we started when it was dark and so we all had our head torches to show us the way. We had to get to the top of the canyon before the sun came out and it was too hot.
Stuart set a good pace going and after a hard climb we got to the top in two hours and forty minutes. Charlene, who opted to hire a mule, managed it in an hour and a half. We were so hot but continued to the village where we had breakfast.
Then we hopped on a minibus and headed to a viewpoint to see three mountains including the Umpata mountain where Juanita was found. It was really cold and we were at over 4500m above sea level but there were some great views.
After this we had a lunch and then headed back to Arequipa. We changed hostel which was a nightmare as we could not find it, when we eventually found it it was really nice with really hot showers.
The next day we were off to Cusco on the night bus with Stuart and Charlene.
P.s. Since then our photos have been wiped and we don't have copies!