Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Colca Canyon – Chivay – Peru - April 29 – May 2, 2012

We really enjoyed our 6 hour bus ride and our first sampling of Coca leaves, Coca candy and Coca cookies, all of these products recommended to stave off altitude sickness.  The trip was a non-stop photo op including amazing snow capped volcanoes, 

Breath taking views!

and ever-changing terrain including miles upon miles of flat plains inundated with numerous herds of rare and prized wild Vicuna roaming freely in the national park.
Rare & Highly prized Wild icuna

The Colca valley is situated in the province of Caylloma, the capital of which is the town of Chivay, home to approx 7,000 people.  Here thermal baths with medicinal properties are located.  The area is rich in mineral deposits, particularly silver, gold, tungsten and lead, as well as gypsum, quarts & clay.  These minerals were known and exploited by the Incas and subsequently by the Spanish.

We arrived at our beautiful 1st class hotel Casa Andina.  After a good nites rest we awoke to a full buffet breakfast.  This complex is a rustic idyll with quaint stone-and-thatched cottages, neatly sculptured bushes and garden views of snowcapped peaks.  It is replete with its own on site observatory and evening presentation of the stars.  One of the unexpected treats was the evening knock on your door to find your porter providing heated wine bottles for your sleeping comfort.

Casa Andina, Hotel observatory, bedwarmingr battles,  hotsprings,downtown Chivay, Snowcapped mountains & terraced Colca Canyon

After breakfast we then bussed 40 miles to the Colca Canyon stopping along the way to view the amazing terraced lands that seem to climb forever into the clouds.

The Colca canyon is three times as deep as the Grand Canyon and is reported to be one of the deepest canyons in the world.

Colca Canyon

The Colca River emerges from the highlands of southern Peru more than 5,000 meters above sea level.  It flows thru valleys and canyons, crossing the western range of the Andes and ending at the Pacific Ocean after a journey of 450 kms.  The deepest section of its course plunges 3,000 meters, forming the famous, 100 km long Colca Canyon. 

Colca canyon was a completely unique experience, home to the largest Condors on the planet.  Standing on the edge of sheer cliffs 1000's of ft high, waiting for the first of the morning thermals to kick in and as they do, up come the condors.  These are not small birds with many having wing spans over 11 feet.  Juveniles and Adults alike soaring skyward on the warm thermal air and come within reaching distance of where we are perched atop the cliffs.   Kaija's camera never stopped clicking and we can only estimate seeing several dozen of these awe inspiring beautiful birds soaring, diving, and dancing thru the sky all with such silent grace.

The condors of Colca Canyon
Truly a life memory

We finished our day off with a lengthy hour long walk to the hot springs , and back to Casa Andina for a evening meal and discussion of the stars privately held for Jerie, John, Kaija & me in the observatory and among other wonders viewed firsthand the rings of Saturn in all their splendor.  We will long remember our time in the Colca Canyon.

Next stop...Puno...and the highest fresh water lake in the world...Lake Titicaca.

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