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Arequipa and Colca Canyon

Corpses and Condors

sunny

So after finally tearing ourselves away from Cuzco, we arrived in the equally attractive Arequipa, nicknamed ´the white city´ because of its white volcanic rock structures. Arequipa is surrounded by a load of volcanes which, like Salkantay, the Incas used to worship, and in the last 20 odd years people have found a whole bunch of dead kids up there in the snow that were sacrificed to appease said volcanoes hundreds of years ago.

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We spent one afternoon wandering around a museum housing one of these ´mummies´ called Juanita, which is in incredibly good condition because she was still frozen when found. Despite having a hideous face, the rest of her body was in incredible condition (skin, veins muscles etc) and was pretty creepy. Equally interesting were the tons of Incan artifacts they found buried around her- clothes, potteries, metal toys- all still in pretty good condition, and really well made considering the limited tools they would have had.

A day or so after, we headed to a town called Cabanaconde, situated just above Colca Canyon. The canyon is supposedly the second deepest in the world, two times the size of the grand canyon (the biggest in the world is just down the road, but is only 100m deeper, and much harder to access)- so after deciding we were hardcore trekkers after Salkantay, we headed on a trail through the canyon that would ultimately take us down one side to the bottom of the canyon, up the other, back down, then all the way back to where we started at the top of the canyon. The trek was HARD. Great views, cool paths through little (and sometimes abandoned) villages and glimpses of huge condors circling overhead, but all the up and downhill struggles were a killer on our legs.

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At the bottom of the canyon there was a little place known as ´the oasis´ where we were able to stay the night in a bamboo shack and have a swim in the pool before heading back up to Cabanaconde.

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This part of the walk was torture, it was so hot and sunny, and we hadnt yet had any food so we were starved of energy. To top it off we started to run out of water as well. We actually resorted to trying to eat a prickly pear off a cactus (resulting in me getting a ton of cactus spines in my lips), and then peeling and eating a raw potato that we had found. Nice. It eventually took us somewhere around 5 hours to climb to the top, including rests (and a short spell where I helped a small grunting local man load his donkey properly), where we quickly checked back into the hostel and collapsed onto the bed. We slept so much that we didnt get up in time to visit Cruz del Condor before heading back to Arequipa, which is a viewpoint from where you can see Condors all close up- but we saw one from a few meters away in Argentina so we werent that fussed.

Posted by St Martins 12:40 Archived in Peru

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