Colca canyons & condors
The Colca Canyon has just been certified by experts 2 months ago(Sept 05) to reclaim back their title as the World's Deepest Canyon from Cotohuasi. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the deepest point is at 4100m, much further away from the town of Chivay. Pronounced as "Chibai", I nearly burst into laughter when my guide proclaimed that he loves "Chivay" to the whole group in the bus. If only he knew what it meant in hokkien dialect....kekeke....
A good 4-5 hours drive from Arequipa, we arrived in Chivay for a late lunch and checked into a tiny hostal. At the main square, we met a very nice Peruana lady decked in this region's traditional sequinned garb, with a 30days old baby llama tied in a rucksack behind her back! The baby llama is called Hannah and she has the sweetest demeanour when we took her pictures, blinking once in a while and showing off her long lashes while pouting her lips! So adorable! I want a baby llama when I go back home!
The La Caldera hot spring was one of the cleanest and least smelly I've ever been to. Looking exactly like a swimming pool, we luxuriated in its warm nectar while enjoying the sunset, and nursing a delish pina colada at the same time. Life can't get any better than this....until we had to get out of the pool into the whipping cold, that is.
The next day was the highlight of the trip. Waking up at an ungodly hour of 5am, we headed towards the Cruz del Condor. Along the way, we stopped at some colonial towns and I simply cannot believe that there are groups of tradionally dressed up groups of kids dancing their traditional dance and twirling their colorful skirts away in front of the cathedral at 6.30am in the morning!!! A line of 5 ladies on the right posed with their decked out llamas and some with proud eagles spreading their wings for the world to snap away. For 1 sole at least. I got suckered into the whole touristy thing(these women gotta feed their kids, right?) and posed for a quick picture with the eagle and llama. Amazing how people shape their lives around tourist group tour schedules in this country. At 6.30am in the morning....geesh.....
After the 101st mirador stop of spectacular views over looking the valleys, volcanos, canyons and rivers, we finally arrived at the Condor Cross. We waited from 8am till about 8.45am before the entire family of condos turned up in strength. The young condor about 3m in wing span was a dull brown and didn't look good in my pictures. When the adult pair of condors in its majestic white and black spread their wings to the full glory of 3.5m across and started to circle up the canyon with the hot air circulation, I knew this was the moment we have been waiting for. I almost worried that some over enthusiastic photographers might lean too far out and fall off the cliff. There are almost 200-300 tourists all eager for a look at the gracious birds and hoping they will swoop over their heads in close proximity. Some are perched precariously on rocks and rough stone surfaces...with no safety measure, of course. There are security officers decked in a horrendous green jacket to warn tourists if they are over the borders or limits of the cliffs.
With great companionship(I got a quick lesson on Poland, its food, its history and their people) from the Poles and great weather, this trip made me feel so glad to be back in Peru.
On to Nazca lines and some sand boarding next!