The Majestic Condors of Colca Canyon
23.06.2016 - 25.06.2016 55 °F
Colca Canyon was carved by the Colca River, located 100 miles northwest of Peru's second largest city, Arequipa.
The ride from Arequipa to Colca Canyon was stunning.
We passed many herds of llama, alpaca, and vicuna grazing along the way.
Many locals keep llamas as pets, dressing them in adorable neck warmers (kind of like a Peruvian version of the doggie sweater).
This little baby alpaca was only 3 days old!
A highlight was Mirador de Los Andes.
At 16,000 feet above sea level, we could see 4 volcanos.
The piles of stacked rocks are from locals who build their wishes and dreams at this highest peak in hopes that the gods will receive them.
While some towns were founded by the Spanish in colonial times, most of the villages in the area are still very rural.
We stayed overnight in Chivay, the largest "town" in the Colca valley.
Chivay and most of the smaller villages are inhabited by the Collagua and the Cabana cultures that speak Quechua, a native dialect that pre-dates the Incan civilization.
On the afternoon of our arrival, we hiked down to the Colca Canyon hot springs.
On the second day, we woke up at 5AM to fully explore the canyon!
There is only one road through the park, filled with many precarious edges. We made it through this tiny tunnel too!
At 10,725 feet, Colca Canyon is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.
The local people maintain their ancestral traditions and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces throughout the valley.
Here, locals farm 300 kinds of potato, 54 varieties of quinoa, and 12 varieties of corn.
The tallest mountain is Huaca Huaca volcano, and the locals offer up the best of their harvests in hopes that the gods will continue to bless them.
They Colca valley is also habitat for the giant Andean condor.
The species that has been the focus of worldwide conservation efforts, likely because it's so majestic.
We spent the whole morning catching glimpses of these epic birds.
They build their nests in the steepest sections of the canyon.
The Andean Condor lives about 60-70 years. Brown condors are teenagers, while the black ones with white collars are fully grown adults.
When sitting they look like giant vultures.
But in flight they are easily recognizable due to their 7 "fingered" wing structure.
Adult condors have a wingspan of about 7-9 feet!
It was a truly unique experience to visit the countryside of Peru.
Wishing you all a happy Friday!