After the jungle, Colca Canyon was our best couple of days to date. The journey to the area is a leisurely 3 hour coach ride through spectacularly scenery which is literally breathtaking – particularly the little stop we had at 5000 meters. Altitude sickness is a real problem and the locals insist that coca leaves are the best cure. You are supposed to roll 5 or 6 leaves into a tab with a little burnt ash and then chew it gently for 10 minutes or so, however after realising just how disgusting they taste we quickly opted for the other versions, coca tea, coca toffee, coca cookies etc etc etc. (the coca marketing team were on a roll)
After a few more stops for viewpoint photos and to get up close to the wild Llamas and Alpacas we arrived at our hostel in the remote town of Chivay. After a buffet lunch that would have fed us for a week we headed off to the local hot springs for a long soak in a 40 degree volcanically heated swimming pool, complete with in pool cocktail service. Life is hard sometimes.
Surprisingly nobody was that hungry at dinner so Soup was the main order while we watched the locals perform traditional dances and ceremonies, thankfully choosing their “willing” participants from the other tables rather than ours. (if you are in the area i can recommend the carpaccio of Alpaca..yummy!)
The following morning / middle of the night we got up for our trip to the Canyon itself and to see the giant condors that live there. After 2 hours on the world’s bumpiest road (note to self – don’t sit on the back seats in vans with low ceilings) with copious viewpoint stops to admire the amazing scenery we arrived at the canyon ready to view these majestic birds only to be greeted with the sight of a couple of swallows. But don’t worry, they were just teasing us and soon 4 or 5 of them were riding the thermals and gliding around the crowds that had gathered on this fine sunny morning.