Ciarán & Elaine's Travelog

Friday, October 28, 2005

Condor spotting in Colca Canyon

Up at 5am today for brekkie and then off to the canyon on the bus. Can`t believe it, but that marching band is still going! Seriously, they must be wrecked!

Colca Canyon is the deepest Canyon in the world and one of the best points to spot Condors from. Condors are the biggest (flying) birds and we`ve been told that they live to about 50 years, can weigh up over 10 stone and their wingspan can be up to 5 metres (approx 17 feet). They group together to push cows off cliffs for dinner - fingers crossed that we get to see one and hey, it would be cool to see a cow going over too!

The canyon is about 2 hours drive from Chivay and on the way we passed through several villages in the Colca Valley. It must be some sort of religious holiday because more than one village is having a procession and it`s only 6am! We stopped in one of the villages where people are dressed up dancing in the streets, it`s all very traditional and I got my photo taken with a llama and an eagle on my arm - that is one big bird, I could feel the talons grabbing onto my arm, could`ve ripped a lump out of me if it wanted to.

Back on the bus we continued winding our way through the valley with the Andes all around us, we stopped every now and then to see ancient Inca terraces etc - a really beautiful drive and we`re so used to getting up at 5am now that we didn`t even mind the lack of sleep!

We reached Condor Cross which is the best point to try to get a glimpse of a condor at about 8am. At Condor Cross the canyon is over 3km deep but strangely it doesn`t look that much, kinda hard to get your head around that kind of height. There is still some snow and ice on the really high parts of the canyon and and it`s deepest it is over 4km drop from top to bottom.

We were only at the viewing point about 10 minutes when somebody shouts "Condor". We can see a bird flying on the far side of the canyon but to us it just looks like a crow. When it gets closer we realise it`s a huge condor (goes to show how far away the other side of the canyon is!) It soars over our heads. It feels really magic to see one in real life they`re just magnificent. We saw 4 altogether and took some photo`s but it`s hard to get an idea of their size from the pictures.

When we arrived back to Arequipa that night Anna & Stina convinced us that it would be a great idea to play drinking games. We ended up coming home from a nightclub at about 4am - pity we have to get up at 6 to get a bus to the Peru/Chile border....


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