Colca Canyon is located in southern Peru, about 100 miles northwest of Arequipa. It is one of the world’s deepest canyons (circa 3191m) and a truly spectacular place to visit.
My journey from Arequipa began at 1am, ahead of me lay a bone jarring 6-hour bus journey.
Why on earth I should chose to get on a bus at such an unearthly hour still astounds me and all for the sake of a bird; except on this occasion the bird in question was the Andean Condor. In order to see this elusive creature I had to reach my destination by day-break.
Cruz del Cóndor is a rocky outcrop where Andean condors can be seen gliding on thermal air currents. It’s a great place to meet fellow travellers – stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do, except wait, you strike up conversations with people from all over the world. Sadly there were no Andean Condors to be seen – despite waiting for over 2-hours.
A 20-minute bus ride further on is Cabanaconde – an excellent base for some spectacular hikes into Colca Canyon, including the popular trek down to Sangalle (The Oasis).
Cabanaconde is my kind of place. A picturesque and tranquil little village with nothing much to do apart from relax or hike. My hotel was a delightful establishment with comfy rooms and an excellent restaurant.
My hike down to Sangalle commenced around 9am, just as all the tour groups were completing their particular hike up! Apparently they had started at 5am to avoid the fierce sun, which was just about to peak over the top of the canyon. I would be climbing back up in the full sun of the day!
It was an amazing decent into The Oasis and once I reached the bottom I enjoyed a soothing swim in on of the many pools. My ascent back to Cabanaconde was a slow and arduous climb; the sun was beating down ferociously and each step was a challenge. By 3pm I had made it back – sweaty and exhausted.
Next stage: Nasca.