Walk next to the canyon from cruz del condor.
If you are waiting for the condors to apear you can walk a bit further away from the cruz del condor on some walking tracks. There are more viewpoints further down the canyon, which can be good because cruz del condor gets pretty crowded.
The walk has some spectacular views of the canyon.
- Hiking and Walking
Cruz del condor
Cruz del condor is the stop at the Colca canyon to spot condors.
It's a very touristy spot.
Entrance in november 2005 was 8 dollars.
Keep in mind that it is not 100% certain that you'll see condors (They do not listen to orders)
People say the best change to see em is really early. We did this, walked around over there for 4 hours. Didn't see any condors. We decided to get on a bus. 10 minutes on the bus we saw a condor . I took a picture (not my best one).
We were glad that we saw one in the end.
When I gott to Chivay (the city where the hotels are), it was getting to be dark, and our guide recommended the hot springs. It was affordable and my money's worth. The springs were nice and hot, and they weren't too overly crowded. There are several pools, but I chose the one in the picture as my favorite. There is also a museum at the site, but it did not grab my attention.
Aguada Blanca National Reserve
Most tour guides will let stop to let you see the vicunas on the Aguada Blanca National Reservefrom the bus. You used to be able to walk on the reserve (1998), but now that has been restricted. I believe the picture shows llamas.
On the way to Colca Canyon, the altitude gets quite high and many suffer from altitude sickness. It is said that coca tea helps alleviate some of the sickness. It's something you should try at least once.
The village in the middle of the Canyon
During your excursion in the Canyon del Colca, you will have a stop (where usually you overnight) in a small tipical Andean village. The altitude here is about 4.200 mt, and the village is so pretty and autentic...no turist trap at all!
Around his street you smell the autenticity of a small village with his own culture and the hinabitants are so great...just hang around his streets and his small central market and you will enjoy so much!
Take a bath at 5K meters!
Altough you will be not sleeping in the Colca Lodge, that has his own geothermal “swimmingpools”, you gotta get to this place and take a bath.
The complex has four differents pools with different water tmperatures, one 35C, one 37C, one 39C and another 80C.
Nearby the swimmingpools there is a small “open building” where you can change your clothes...but take care cuz here is so bloody freezing cold all year around!
But anyway, you will definitel enjoy to chill a bit in the hot water when outside you feel a cold wind!
Canyon del Colca
The 2 days/1 night experience trought the canyon del colca is something you gotte really do in Arequipa. This journey will take you trough an amazing landscape, with volcanoes, rural villages, animals wherever, piecefull and quietness with a supreme scenario.
It starts from Arequipa early in the morning and on the first day you cross 5.700m , so do not forget to buy some hojas de coca... At the afternoon, after having passed rural villages, having met people on the way, alpaca, lamas and vicuNas, you will be taken in the hot bath, so you can enjoy a bath into a swimming pool with 40C hot water...amazing! Then you have to choose were to sleep; there are three options: colca lodge which is the most expensive but the most confortable (see my accomodation tip) or in some guesthouses. We book in colca lodge and the entire journey costed us 35USD.
In the afternoon you will be taken to a tipical mountain market, fullfilled of peruvian trying to sell a lot of stuff...very imprressive.
At day 2, very early in the moprning, you will be taken to cerro del condor, where the condors are flying just 5 meters above your head...woow!
In the afternoon you will be taken back to Arequipa.
Take a picture with an eagle
There are at least two persons around the canyon Colca with an eagle who ask you to take a picture with them. I only took a photo of the person herself with the bird, but it´s a funny thing, whereelse do you have the chance to get a an eagle on your shoulder?
And the price is really not high, the people are living from the little money they get
Vicuñas - like little more elegant Llamas
on the way to the canyon you have a great chance to see vicuñas next to the street. They are so beautiful, so cute!! Vicuñas are protected in Peru since 1993. Once a year the villagers in the highlands (altiplano) make a battue to catch the Vicunas to shear them. Only the full-grown animals are sheared. Their pelt grows very quickly, so they don´t have to suffer the cold climate for long time. From one Vicuna they get more or less 300 gr wool. Vicuna wool is the finest and lightest wool used for clothes, a coat made of Vcuna wool may cost unto 25 000 Euro, sold in the best stores in the world.
The "cruz del Condor"
This is the observation point from where you can see the condors. You can go
there with organized tours from Arequipa. Here we all are waiting for the
condors, but it's still quite early in the morning; people are hungry and a bit
tired still. We've all been very excited and emotional waiting for the soaring
birds to catch the updrafts. It's really amazing to see them passing by so close
to you, often only a few metres away.
Cruz del Condor
For most visiting the Colcan Canyon on even a one day tour, seeing a condor in flight is the highlight of the trip. The problem is that you have a very limited time there and the condors are generally there very early or late in the day. It's too damn hot in the middle of the day as we found out hiking to the bottom then! We did get lucky enough to see one and guess I should be happy enough with that.
vicunas at last!
The ride to the Colca Canyon is beautiful and you see some varied terrain along with some rare wildlife as you pass through Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca. Vicunas are wild cousins to llamas and alpaccas. Their fur is the most expensive and warm material known to man and it was nice to finally get close enough to one to snap a photo.
the canyon itself, of course...
Of course, the main reason for the trip in the first place is the canyon itself. Reputed to be the deepest in the world, I would say that it was not as spectacular as the Grand Canyon in the USA and local experts say that a canyon nearby is, in fact deeper, but it was still a very impressive sight. The ease with which you can explore it, makes it a worthwhile excursion.
I didn't trek down to the so called Oasis in the Colca Canyon. Nevertheless, i've heard the hike is worthwhile. I'm sure others have written reports about it on VT so try making a search if interested. Have fun!
- Hiking and Walking