DAY THIRTYFOUR – DAY THIRTYEIGHT
After Ica I arrived back in Arequipa. I had a great day. I had a lot of little things to do so I was always moving and since I had been there before I already knew where everything was and it just felt great. I then also booked my three-day Colca Canyon tour, which I started the following day. We were only eight people on this trek. An older Italian couple, two very English women, two Americans, a dude from Lima and me. And our guide Juanito.
Day 1: Got up at 3am and took a bus to Chivay near the Colca Canyon where we ate breakfast and it was freeezing that morning! Then we took the bus to Cruz del Condor, a viewpoint from which you can see condors. From there we could already see a bit of the canyon. If you are at the viewpoint at the right time of day you can see dozens of condors flying right above your head. Unfortunately that did not happen. I think I saw two condors far away. At least the view was nice. We drove a bit further and then started walking. There was absolutely no cloud in the sky and it was very hot! We hiked to the bottom of the canyon for about three hours. The view was just amazing. I tried to enjoy it to the fullest and I didn’t want to complain because it was too beautiful and if you’re surrounded by something so incredible you shouldn’t be complaining. But three hours downhill was tough and tiring and of course my backpack was too heavy again. I was happy when we arrived at our lunch place. We had a typical Peruvian dish “lomo saltado”. After lunch we hiked for about another hour. By then the canyon was in the shade and walking was fine. I was quite tired and exhausted after the first day even though it wasn’t very long. Our hostel was cute and also strange. All their wash was hung to dry and on one line right next to it they had hung their meat to dry (or whatever meat does). I even got to see their collection of guinea pigs, which eventually will be cooked and served for dinner. But not for us. Our group was nice but of course never as good as our salkantay group. Our guide is great. He’s funny and he speaks about five languages and keeps speaking to me in German.
Colca Canyon was different than I had imagined it. I expected it to be more like the grand canyon. But it’s these huge mountains and between them flows the colca river. It’s also very green and vegetated. I had been missing doing sport and moving so I was very excited about the trek and now that I’ve done something again I feel great. I had also missed being out in nature away from the city. It really was so beautiful and I am so glad I decided to go back and do the trek!
Day 2: This is the second time I have been woken up by a stupid rooster waaay too early. This time some sheep join in as well. I’ve always wanted to wake up to the sound of a rooster but not three hours too early because they don’t stop. No. They just randomly make their noise for the rest of the day. But besides the wake up call it was another phenomenal day. Such blue sky and not a single cloud. We had great pancakes for breakfast with the most amazing view of the canyon. It’s extremely quiet in the canyon. All you can hear is the sound of the colca river flowing between the massive mountains. It was a pretty chill day. Walking was fine. Not that hard. I had a lot of energy and it was so beautiful, I could’ve spent hours walking around taking photographs. After about 2-3 hours of hiking we arrived at the “Oasis”. It’s at the bottom of the canyon and it has green grass, palm trees and a few hostels for all the trekkers and they each had pools. Clean, cold pools. It was really amazing there because as soon as you step out of your room you are just overwhelmed by these huge rocks/mountains right in front of you. It was just so nice because it’s so quiet and relaxing there. I was glad I did the three-day trek because I really enjoyed just relaxing and spending time at the oasis. Down there the canyon did look more like what I had imagined. The walls went straight down to the river, it was drier and the canyon had this light brownish color. The oasis really sticks out because it’s such a dark green and has all these light blue pools. On our way down we saw which way we would be taking up the next day. I had heard it’s extremely tough (tougher than the salkantay ascent!) and that is exactly what it looked like.
It’s quite amazing because there is not one single road for cars that leads to the bottom. Only narrow hiking trails. So all the material for making houses or all those beds or pots and pans…EVERYTHING had to be carried down by mules and men (and women). And it is not an easy way down!
Day 3: We started walking at five when it was still dark out with billions of stars in the sky. It’s fun walking in the dark with just your headlight. We had three hours of steep uphill ahead of us. While walking the sky kept getting lighter and lighter and you were able to see more and more of the incredible canyon. We had the most spectacular view hiking up. I enjoyed it so much and our trail was in the cool shade. I didn’t know why exactly but I was just so happy. I felt good from the days before and I got some great photos, which always makes me happy. So anyways I was just full of energy and motivation and it felt like I flew up that hill/mountain. I was the first to reach the top. Even Juanito was surprised. He said with his Spanish accent: “It’s funny because the first two days you were always last and today you are first”. Making it and looking down at the canyon felt great. I was still pumped with energy. Then we ate breakfast, went to the hot springs and stopped at some beautiful viewpoints on our way home. The whole ride home was almost as amazing as the canyon. The scenery was incredible AND we saw lamas :). Sitting in that bus/car/van and enjoying the views I was truly happy and really grateful to be here in such an amazing and beautiful place!
The Colca Canyon Trek was incredible. So much beauty and being there just gave me this amazing energy I hope to keep. I may have spent a bit more time in Peru than intended but I do not regret it because that canyon was worth seeing!
It’s my last day in Peru. Got a lot of little things I need to do and then I will be heading towards Bolivia where I will spend the rest of my trip.