Friday, October 28, 2011

Colca Canyon: Day 1

As excited as I was to get the trekking boots out, 3 am was a very painful way to start the day. My pickup arrived with 11 other very tired looking souls and off we went. Our first stop was breakfast, 3 hours away in Chivay. A quick good morning to everyone, on went the IPod and away we went.

Breakfast was good. Bread, cheese, fruit and coffee. Everyone started to chat and the mood was casual. Our next stop was El Mirador Del Condor and since I am a bird guy I was stoked. The view of the canyon was insane  The lookout located in a part of the canyon where the thermal float up and the birds just float and coast without effort to start thier day. I guess similar to a large coffee and newspaper.
It was better than imagined. There were 4 (always pairs) that came so close you could reach out and touch them, and they were huge! Thier 3 metre wingspan had to be seen to be appreciated
** Quick Condor facts. They can live up to 75 years. They mate for life. If a female condor dies the male will fly to an extreme altitude and then missle dive to his death. Condor suicide. If the male dies the female gives a "meh" and moves onto find another mate. (Nice one Mother Nature)

We moved on to San Juan De Chuchoo to start the hike. Seeing the canyon from the Condor lookout had everyone ready to go. We walked across a fairly flat plain for about 500 metres, then it was all downhill from there. The trail started easy enough, long winding paths swithbacking down the mountain. The views were beyond beautiful and at times overwhelming. Then of course I realized I had to climb down this monster. What could go wrong, the trial seems easy enough. Smooth wide dirt track, lots of view points for pictures, the sun was shining. What could go wrong?

The the trail changed its mind  thats what could go wrong! The trail started to put a nice angle under our feet and get a we bit narrower...with lots of scree!! The hikers antagonist. A 1000 metre drop to my left, and a scree laden path underfoot I thought I better stop yakking an focus. At this exact moment the world went quiet, the conversations stopped and there was pure focus from everyone. It was a total "holy shit" moment. After the initial few minutes of well sheer terror everyone settled in nicely. The trail was easy, the change just caught us off guard. It was only 5 hours down to lunch and our stop for the night, the Andean town of Tapay.

Tapay was a great way to end the trek and the day. A tiny village of 6 buildings plus a kitchen and very basic hostal accommidations. There were 12 of us and we had a nice lunch. Afterwards nobody left the table until it was time for dinner, 5 hours later. Needless to say we just chilled, drank some well deserved cold beer and joked about how sore our legs were from the walk down. For the record walking down a mountain or into a Canyon is harder on your legs then walking up. We played with the coolest cat possible (check out the eyes) and after dinner when the sun had set we took our chairs to the courtyard and just stared at the sky. It is impossible to explain the quantity of stars. We watched shooting stars, pretended we could identify planets and constellations and awed at the satellites cruising across the sky (my personal fav). Myself, Anna, Peter, Serge, Angie and Norma (our guide) sat for hours, stared at the sky and talked about the enormity of it all.

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