Ahoy hoy everybody. Here is the acccount of our visit to the Colca Canyon, the world´s deepest canyon!!! and some other stuff too. Our journey started with our departure from Cuzco, we were due to get a two hour flight to Arequipa (Peru´s second biggest city) and then have a night of partying in Peru´s party town. However, unbeknown to us the good people at LAN Airways had decided to bring our flight time forward by two hours at the last minute. (This appears to happen a lot in South America). Fortunately for the rest of our group they discovered this schedule change in time and, therefore, made it to the airport on time. We, however, arrived to the hotel for our transfer and our poor guide told us to sit down as she had some news. She proceeded to explain that we now had an 11 hour taxi ride to get to Arequipa. How we laughed.
Anyway, the next 11 hours were among the scariest I´ve experienced, I know the qualtiy of south american driving has been mentioned a few times on this blog but I think we had Ayrton Senna´s ghost as our driver resolved that he would attempt to break the record for travel between Cuzco and Arequipa. Obviously we made it but there were moments, while travelling at 60 round blind hairpin bends on the wrong side that we seriously wondered about how much life insurance we had.
There was some excitement along the way, our driver and guide confirmed that we were going to take the quick route despite there being a good chance of being held up by robbers. Vicki and I were aghast. It was only the next morning that we learned we had misunderstood the converstation and that there was a good chance we would be held up by roadworks. We also stopped at a llama sale and the driver stopped to buy us all about four pigs´ worth of pork scratchings. I am never having it again.
Anyway we arrived about 1 am and were goosed so went to bed.
The next day we set of with our local guide whose name we have forgotton but was the spitting image of Diego Maradona. We stopped off at three volcanoes that are set around the city of Arequipa, one of which is still active. On our journey to the Canyon (you forgot that this was about Colca Canyon didn´t you) we also reached our highest point in our whole trip, at 4,900 metres. It was baltic and we all felt a bit grim and needed some more of that coca, this time in the form of tea.
Our last stop of the first day was to the natrual hot springs in Colca Valley. These, a collection of swimming pools full of water naturally heated by the volcanic geological situation. (You may have noticed that 6 weeks away from work and logical thought is taking its toll on our ability to communicate) Anyway these were good fun and we got to have Pisco sours and champagne while splashing around. A bit posher that the Gourock outdoor pool.
That night we went to a rotten restaurant. However, we didn´t go for the food but the dancing. We were entertained by a couple doing a variety of traditional dances intended, amongst other things, to ward off yellow fever. We´ll attach the photos of when I got pulled up to join in once we can.
The next morning we got up early to see the deepest points of the canyon, which apparently is twice as deep as the grand canyon. The highlight, however, was waiting to see the condors that fly around the area, gliding spirals in the thermals that are created by the canyon´s steep walls. We got to see one and it was incredible, it´s wing span was three metres and it was unbelievably graceful. It floated around for about 20 minutes then headed off and so did we.
We chilled back in Arequipa and visited a huge monastry in the centre of the city which was nice and relaxing. Then we headed out from some karaoke and whisky.
The next day we had an overnight coach to Nazca. We arrived early in the morning and nothing of interest had happened.
That day however, was one of the many that we had been looking forward to as we were to fly over the Nazca lines. These are ancient lines in the desert in the form of various shapes that are only really visible from the air. This begs the question as to why the Nazcans actually created them as they had no means of seeing them properly. There are numerous theories as to why they were created, to help aliens land, a humungous astreological map, and others I can´t remember. Anyway we went up in a wee 5 seater plane to get a good view. Sadly Vicki´s constitution could not cope with the loops and spins and crazy curves our pilot was taking and had to make use of the sick bag then had to keep her eyes closed for the next twenty minutes. However, I really enjoyed it and the lines really were pretty impressive. (Photos on blog when we get a chance)
We got back down and went for lunch, although some people in the group couldn´t manage anything more stodgy than a mineral water. After this we visited a remote cemetary which had been dug up by Spanish grave robbers looking for gold centuries ago. The result was some pretty freaky skeletons looking up at us still wrapped in swaddling!!!.
That´s enough for now. The next stop will be Pisco and the Ballestas Islands and then on to Lima.
hasta luego! V & A Xx
PS. The picture is of one of the streets in the monastary that we visited... pretty isn´t it?