Colca Canyon, Perú
After a grueling four-day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, I decided to take on another challenge. Located about 100 miles from Arequipa, we had a 2 am wake up call to go on a 2-day mission and hike down the 3,270 m (10,725 ft) Colca Canyon, also know as the second deepest canyon in the world.
Second to the nearby Cotohuasi and twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the USA, Colca Canyon is no doubt one of the major tourist destinations in Peru. Hiking down is not as easy as some people might have thought. There is an option to do the three day trek, but because of time constraints, we decided to sign up at an Arequipan tour operator found in Lonely Planet travel guide and do the harder 2 day hike.
Six hours from Arequipa, our first stop was at the Cruz de Condor, and we were lucky to see five Andean condors up close and flying around the beautiful rim of the canyon. Then about 20 minutes later, we start the actual hike down with only brief stops for water and photo ops and a quick lunch crossing small villages and seeing some donkeys, horses and pigs along the way.
We arrived at Sangalle, the oasis at the bottom of the canyon where we stayed the night in our little bamboo bungalow with no light, shared shower and toilets and very little option for food. Because we arrived just as when the sun is setting, there was not much to do but swim in the pool or rest and prepare for the next day. We took the second option and slapped on as much fly-repellant lotion as we can and got ready for another long and more-exhausting day.
I couldn’t describe how the hike-up was. All I can remember was that I wanted to reach the peak so bad, and the backpack, altitude and heat didn’t make it easier. After 3-4 hours, we finally made it all on top and travelled in our mini-van with random backpackers to get much deserved lunch. Then we went on to the small town of Yanque, visited it’s colonial church and paid 2 soles to have my picture taken with an alpaca.
Traveling on dirt road we stopped by the Huayra Punko where we had sweeping views of stepped terraces of the Colca valley. Our last destination was at the highest point of our trip, the Lookout Point of the Andes where we saw 5 volcanoes including an active one in the background.
Traveling made me see beautiful places yet the best ones are always tied with the best experiences.
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