Friday, October 28, 2011

Colca Canyon: Day 3

An so it begins. A 4:45 wake up for 5:15 start. Our goal is a 4000 vertical foot climb in an estimated time 3.5 hours. I dont think we have any idea what we are in for, but that is the good stuff. Matt and Karen were a bit hesitant but optimistic despite the brave front. They were thinking we were all Olympic Athletes and were prepared to sprint up the trail. We sorted that out pretty quick.

Part of our group ready to get going (counter clockwise). Karen, Matt, Sara, Ken, Norma, Serge, Matt, Angie

As all climbs go its started off easy enough. The trail switchbacked up the canyon nice and easy. All the groups left at the same time so there were about 50 people on the trail. We reached the first marker at about 300 metres and Norma told us to go at our own pace. Just be carefull of locals coming down the trail with thier donkeys. Move to the inside of the trail and stop. Wait for them to pass before you start again because we dont want anyone to be Condor food. Good advise, thanks Norma.

The climb was fantastic. Stopping to enjoy the various views as well as guzzle water, eat cookies and catch our breathe is what makes these climbs worth the effort. The valley below expanded with each stop and the view became more spectacular. Yuppers there were Donkeys and well as some lame as pack horses going both up and down the track. Step aside young man, animals coming through!! Somewhere in the distance I know there were a few Condors just watching and hoping!

Two hours and 15 minutes later and here we are, Peter, Anna, Ken, Marie Clare and Serge taking a well deserved rest. I think Peter had a smoke. Peter first, next Marie Clare. Anna, Serge and me waited for each other with 20 metres to go so we could finish together. We hung around the top for about 30 minutes taking it all in with the 20 or so others from various groups. Next up Breakfast!! We walked the 10 minute to Cabanaconde where our food was ready and waiting. Never had eggs, bread, cheese and instant coffee tasted so good. There was a nice terrace overlooking the plaza so after breakfast we settled in waiting for the others with 10 or 12 others. As they straggled in and we stood on the terrace and applauded them as they walked across the square. Every single person had a huge smile on thier face for a job well done. Last up were Matt and Karen at just over 4 hours. No issues, just smiles all around. Congrats guys. You were a great team to be with!!

..but the day was not over. Who ever put this tour together knew what they were doing. As it was now about 9:30 we had the day ahead of us. Thirty minutes down the road were the local hot springs. Now how perfect was that. Seriously, I have hiked up some crazy volcanos/mountains but my legs were shattered ands screaming YES when asked if they wanted to his some 40 degree celcius pools. An hour in the pools then it was off for lunch. Never have I been so happy to be dropped off at a tourist buffet in my life. Pasta, Alpaca meatballs and chops, lots of fresh veggies, soups, salads, fruit and desserts. I hit that bad boy hard.

The 3 hour drive back to Arequipa was broken up with a few stops. One at Pinchollo which is the deepest part of the canyon for a good long last look and final photos. Then off to Yanque where you could take photos will llamas, falcons or other animals, plus load up on ice cream and other snacks. The town was 1 street but really cool in a holy crap tourist kind of way. A stop to take photos of grazzing llamas (most of us just staying in the van) and one finals stop where you could view the 7 volcanoes in the area which was pretty cool. Chachani  and Misti were calling out to me.

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