Friday, 1 February 2013

Colca Canyon

Our trip from Puerto Moldanado to Arequipa was uneventful, except for one small detail.  Our flights were scheduled to take us through Cusco where we had problems with the altitude previously.  We suffered through a four hour wait for our plane.  This only served to reinforce the wise course we had taken earlier as the altitude hit us almost immediately and by the time the plane arrived, we were both suffering the early effects of altitude sickness.

The next morning, we were up early as the tour to the Colca Canyon with a goal to see the Condors, although they are rare at this time of the year due to inclement weather and changes in their eating habits.  We had expressly requested a small group so that we wouldn´t be subjected to the crowds one finds on large buses.  What we did not count on was that a small group also means a small bus.  This is not a huge challenge for me, but for Paul's tall frame, it was most uncomfortable.

We took a very windy road 160 kilometers and were treated to spectacular scenery along the way.
We went through a natural reserve in which herds of Vicuna, Alpaca and Llamas are abundent.

The animals are protected, but their fur is harvested each year and they each have owners who are responsible for gathering the wool and generally taking care of the animals...although they roam wild.

Within the first 30 minutes or so our guide started to lecture us about safeguards against....altitude we were on our way through a high mountain pass.  I had wondered why my head was aching so badly!!!  We then learned that the mountain pass took us up to 4,950 metres above sea level.  Oh No!!! Worse still, the city we were staying in, Chivay, is at 3,660 meters...higher than Cusco.   We stocked up on coca products and drank a lot of water, but needless to say, our health suffered and we both admitted that the day had been  difficult one by the time it ended with a supper at a local restaurant specializing in native dance.  We fell into bed looking forward to a 6:15 pick up the next morning, where we were to go higher still...up to 3,800 metres. 

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