Peru - Colca Canyon

Check out our adventure in Peru and discover one of the deepest Canyon of the world and the best places to spot the Andean Condors

"The best view comes after the hardest climb"
 

Practical info:

  • The road from Arequipa climbs up to 4910 meters slm offering breathtaking views of the several volcanoes of this area; be sure to acquaint yourself carefully to the altitude, avoiding useless efforts once you hop off from your car

  • Plan at least two days/one night in the Colca region. There are more chances to spot the condors early in the morning and you can not miss a swim in the thermal springs at sunset.

  • Have a light dinner (a soup is perfect) and avoid alcoholic drinks: digestion is incredibly longer at this altitude!

  • Tips for amateur photographers: don't worry it is not needed a huge zoom to take good shots of the condors. There are multiple spots along the road where you can wait for a condor flying straight over your head. We used an affordable AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II with amazing results (see below)


Crossing Paso de Patapampa


It is time to leave the charming Arequipa (don't miss our article https://www.the2intoureffect.com/post/per%C3%B9-one-day-in-arequipa) to head to the Colca Canyon region.


From the city starts a beautiful panoramic road which, in less than 200 km, crosses the Reserva Nacional Salinas Y Aguada Blanca.

Initially created as a conservation center for the protection of the Vigunas (vicuñas) - at this altitude is common to spot the iconic animals of Perù like Vigunas, Lamas and Alpacas - today this area is the main water reserve of Arequipa thanks to its many lakes and meadows.


Our suggestion is to start your journey from Arequipa not later than lunch time, to have enough time to enjoy your drive and to reach Chivay before sunset.

Along the street it is also possible to stop in a little restaurant area where you can drink a good Mate de Coca to prepare your body for the high altitude or to shop some nice hand-made hats (very useful to protect your head from the cold and the wind for the rest of the journey).


It is really impossible not to stop along the road to take some shots and to admire the beauty of this wild nature.


The last stretch of road climbs up to one of highest passes of Perù, Paso de Patapampa with its 4910 meters altitude.

Here the famous Mirador de los Volcanes offers an incomparable view of eight volcanoes and we have the chance to see an unexpected eruction of Sabancaya volcan.



From this point the road descends again up to Chivay at 3630 meters, but before reaching our hotel for the night (our choice is for the lovely Pozo del Cielo hotel http://www.pozodelcielo.com.pe/ ), we decide to try a swim in La Calera thermal springs, a sequence of 5 pools with hot water (up to 40 degrees); the perfect place to take a rest enjoying the last ray of sun on the mountains.


Yanque - Colca Canyon - Mata


We wake up early (as usual) and after a rich breakfast we head to the first leg of the day: Yanque, a tiny village where we we can enjoy a lovely ballet in the main square and take some nice shots of the inhabitants dressing their traditional clothes.



It is a beautiful sunny morning and we are totally impatient to reach the Mirador Cruz del Condor, one of the best places to see the Andean condors.

It is 8 am and hopefully all the touristic buses which generally crowd the small road are still behind us, therefore we can enjoy our drive stopping here and there to take some shots of the breathtaking landscape.


We are lucky and already before reaching the Mirador some condors are already visible by distance: Andean condors are one of the largest flying bird in the world by combined measurement of weight (up to 15 kg) and wingspan (up to 3.3 meters).

The real show starts once we park the car close to the Mirador, where a large family of condors seem to wait our arrive roosted on a high rock cliff. From this height, one by one soars with just few flaps of the wings and then takes advange of the heat thermals of the Canyon to aid them in rising in the air.




There is something magic in their fly which weak up our emotions. You can feel the power of the nature and it is not a surprise that these animals still play an impotant role in the folklore and culture of the region.


We spend a couple of hours here enjoying the view in complete relax. When hundreds of tourists starts crowding the place we decide that it is time for us to go back.


Our final leg is Mata, another small village with interesting opportunities to take some shots of people and their domesticated baby alpaca. Close to the main square there is also a nice church.


After a quick lunch we decide to pack our luggages and to move for our next leg: Puno and the Titicaca lake! Stay tuned..


To discover more about these place, have a look to our posts and stories dedicated to Peru dated August/September 2019 on our Instagram page @2intour


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