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Dave & Reece -Travel’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 27 Aug 2006

Location: Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Peru

MapArequipa they say was left behind when the moon parted company from the earth, and yes indeed I can see where they are coming from, the landscape could fit anywhere on the moon, they could even have filmed the landing of Apollo there, ????

We left Cuzco for Arequipa, a 10 hour bus ride through this luna like landscape, heading back toward Puno, then heading through Julica and down to Arequipa arriving at 4.30 pm.

We shunted our equipment into the Colonial Inn an old house dating back to the 1800s with curved ceilings and headed into the Plaza de Arma´s for a bite to eat of guinea pig and jelly for desert.

After all we had a big 2 days ahead of us.

The next morning the bus arrived and we piled in to our next adventure in the Colca Canyon, where Condors glide and the Colca River churns 3000m below.

We left Arequipa and skirted between the still active mountains of Misti and Piccu Piccu to the Altiplano and climbed to 4800m at the pass before heading down into the canyon country. We stopped to check out wild Vicunas an almost extinct breed of the South American camel that has fur finer than cashmere and attracts a price of $500 per kilo on the open market.

The bus curled its way down the other side toward a small town at the head of the valley where we were to spend the night, after dropping off our equipment we had a small 3 hour walk to some tombs high above the valley to inspect the remains of the locals (I’d prefer to say hello in the pub) but that’s tourism for you.

Some of the skulls were of one village that revered one of the high peaked mountains as they had a conical shape to the head created during infant years by squeezing the skull with ropes until the shape is formed. Many were babies lost to brain disorders and indeed died during the infant years.
Another village worshipped the other mountain that had a flat shape to it, so to identify them they bound the heads to create a flat head at the top of the skull.

Looking down from the mountains reveal that the whole valley here is terraced for miles and miles for agriculture and was all done 500 years before the Inca name was around.

Another early morning 5am saw us rising before the sol to ensure a meeting with the Condors and indeed it was a sight to behold as these giants of the sky floated above the chasm of the canyon. They have a wingspan to 3 meters and weight up to 17 kilos which makes them one of the largest birds in the world.
We had them soaring for around 45 minutes so close and then they were gone, it really was great.

The bus rounded the corner and we headed back through the mountains to Arequipa and ponder on these giant birds.