Everyone who goes to the Colca Canyon hopes to be lucky enough to see the condors - and we were! It means an early start to the day as you need to be in a good spot at the highest point of the canyon, the Cruz del Condor, before the birds arrive. They float on the early morning thermals above the canyon floor and although they may be some distance from your viewpoint you can't fail to be amazed at their size. It really is worth the effort of the early start, and worth putting up with the crowds of tourists too. But there are no guarantees that you'll see them - like all wildlife they are unpredictable (we learnt that the day before our visit there had been no birds at all, whereas we were lucky enough to see several).
When visitng the Colca Canyon, make sure you take your swimwear for a visit to the hot springs near Chivay. Mind you, I was expecting something very natural whereas in reality it didn't seem that different from a visit to the local baths! You can borrow a towel, there are changing rooms and you'll be given a key to a locker. There's one pool under cover and another one that's open, and the water is very warm and very relaxing. As you sit in the pool you can look up at the surrounding mountains - I spotted several mountain goats clambering around. OK, perhaps it's not much like the local baths after all!
You can also buy cold drinks here.
To really appreciate the Colca Canyon you need to walk a bit. Of course the sight of the condors from the Cruz del Condor is fantastic, but you will be surrounded by other tourists there, whereas if you travel just a mile away and get out of the vehicle to walk, you'll find yourself more or less alone. The air is wonderfully fresh and clear, the views down into the Canyon are stunning, so you'll get some good photos, and we also enjoyed seeing the hummingbirds hunt for nectar among the cactus flowers.
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.
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!
La Cruz del Condor ( 3.287 msnm ) es el sitio del cañón del Colca que tiene mayor profundidad
A parte de venir a ver el paisaje se viene a avistar los condores que a primeras horas de la mañana se pueden ver , si tienes suerte , ascendiendo por las corrientes térmicas
La Cruz del Condor (Alt.3.287 m) isthe place of the Colca canyon with the biggest depth
Besides to see the landscape the people comes to see the condors early in the morning , if they are lucky , rising in the thermals
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!
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.
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.
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.
Es el ave de mayor tamaño del mundo que alcanza 1,50 m de alto y una envergadura de 3,40 m. Puede pesar entre 10 y 13 Kg y vivir hasta 60 años . Los adultos tienen un color negro-azulado, con una ancha banda blanca en el dorso de las alas . No tiene plumas en la cabeza o cuello, a excepción de un collar blanco en la base del cuello . Los cóndores jóvenes son de color marrón . Existe una marcada diferencia entre la hembra y el macho pues ellos tienen una cresta carnosa y ojos cafés, mientras que las hembras no tienen la cresta y sus ojos son rojos.
Da gusto ver con la suavidad que vuelan los condores aprovechando las corrientes térmicas
It is the bird of biggest size on the world that reaches 1.5m high and a wingspan of 3.4m . It may weight between 10 and 13 Kg and they live up to the 60 years .The old ones have a colour black-bluish , with a big white band on the wings back . It has not feathers in the head nor in the neck except for a white collar in the neck base . The young condors are of brown colour.There is a big difference between the female and the male as they have a fleshy comb and brown eyes , while the females do not have comb and they eyes are red
It is a great show to see how smooth they fly taking the thermal currents
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
Aguada Blanca es la Reserva Nacional de las Vicuñas , donde se pueden ver pequeños grupos de varias hembras con un macho , así como a los machos sólos que no son admitidos en las manadas
Aguada Blanca is the National Vicuña Reserve , where you may see small groups of several female vicuñas with a male , as well as the lonely males that are not wellcome in the herd
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.
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.