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Condors, llamas & colca sour: Colca Canyon day tour

They have super delicious food at this gringo cafe in Cusco called Jack's cafe. As soon as I discovered it, the place became my regular breakfast spot. Since they're always full, they just group guests together in the same table. I was seated with 2 guys from Europe. I barraged them with all the travel questions swimming in my head. Yes- Antarctica cruise is absolutely worth it. Galapagos- meh. Colca Canyon daytrip? They wish they did the multi-day version because the 1 day trip was spent mostly inside the tour van. Hm. No more hiking? Sounds perfect to me!


Highlights: The spectacular views of the valley!
Cast of Characters: I joined a tour. I noticed there's a lot of Argentinian tourists. They must be doing really well over there.
Logistics/ Links: http://wikitravel.org/en/Colca_Canyon
When: May, 2012. Gorgeous weather! A bit cold but still beautiful.
Location: Colca Canyon, Peru. About 2-3 hrs from Arequipa.
Cost: I walked around Arequipa's Plaza de Armas to try to find a good cheap Colca day tour. This guy sold me the trip for 50 soles or ~$20. The entrance fee to the Colca Canyon area is $28. Not cheap.
Lunch is about $10. The guide says its a buffet lunch! You come back once, twice, 3x its ok. Yea right. On my second round, there was hardly any food left! So the Colca canyon tour total was about $60.
Trip Report: This place is one of the worlds deepest canyons in the world at 4,160m deep. That's almost 5 Burj Khalifas you can fit in there. They have these viewpoints where it was seriously thousands of feet below you a few steps away. After the Inca trail, I was looking forward to a full day of just sitting on my ass inside a tour van. hehe. The lower altitude of Arequipa was also very nice. I was glad the high altitudes were over. Little did I know...

The tour starts at like 3am. They pick you up from your hotel. There's a couple of zigzags on the road as I realize we're gaining altitude again. Argh!!! I thought it was over! I thought, being a canyon, we were gonna be at the same elevation & we would just be looking down into a deep gorge. Hahahah. We climb to the top of the mountains- and then look down! Not only were we gaining height, we were also dipping in temperatures. It got very, very cold that morning in the van (not as cold as Uyuni's though).

We drove around winding roads & stopped at these fantastic viewpoints along the way. The drive took about 2-3 hrs. We had a quick little breakfast of bread, butter & jam (typical Peruvian breakfast). We drove to the viewpoint for Condor watching & hung out there for an hour or so. Afterwards, we went to some more viewpoints. Stopped at the town of Chivay for lunch, explored the local marketplace, sampled some Colca sour. Then drove back to Arequipa. I know, I don't make it sound exciting (because it isn't). It's still a great destination for sightseeing.

A lot of sources recommend doing a 2 day trip, trekking into the canyon & staying overnight at 1 of the villages. Sounds great, except I was still hurting from the Inca trail (which is why I recommend doing the Inca trail at the last part of your trip). I also heard there's a 1,200m ascent (similar to the dreaded day 2 of Inca trail). If you're feeling well & ready though, at least you get your money's worth from the 2 day trip.


Colca Canyon valley

Condors flying gracefully
 
Condors coming right at you

Villages at Colca Canyon



Tourist viewpoint for condor sightseeing

This was freaky. I thought the earth was gonna erode & me tumble down into the canyon


The ladies dress so beautifully. Their everyday wear looks like something I would wear to a party, like once a year or something


There's 6 volcanoes around this viewpoint


Llamaaaaas!!! We love llamas!

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