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Colca Canyon

Before reaching Arequipa I moved inland to the Colca Canyon – much wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon, this valley is wide enough to feel like a place that is worth living in; and, of course, people do. Those that do are Aloe farmers or runners of mini-rest-points for the fool-hardy traveller that has decided to trek up/down/around it.

Two times deeper than the Grand Canyon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colca_Canyon), at over 4000m in depth, it makes for a good three day trek (scaling the sides alone can take half a day) with two nights on the canyon floor.

The first stop was as an Aloe farmers retreat that had been made a little more traveller friendly – still, electricity was from car batteries (I think) and after a certain time everything was done with torch light or candles. A healthy meal was had on the first night by candlelight under the stars followed coca ‘tea’ – or at least a coca leaf brew… my first experience of this. The leaves were plentiful and it certainly seemed to clear the head – leaving you ready to retire to the stone hut (with dirt floor) to find your bed in the dark…

Map picture

The following day’s trek took me through the canyon floor (with my guide) and on to an oasis style swimming pool (with mini waterfall under which one could massage those trek-induced aching muscles) with further torch lit food and drinks and an early night, allowing us to scale the very steep canyon sides from circa 4am onwards. The ascent took until sunrise, which found us at the cliff top watching the blue moonlight slowly retreat as the yellow of the sun took over the sky.

By the afternoon we sat on the cliff edge by the side of the road watching Condors sweep up and down on the thermals and ridge lifts around them… Never has El Condor Pasa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_C%C3%B3ndor_Pasa_(song)) sounded so good – however corny that may sound… (Yes, somebody did start playing it on a tape player after we’d been watching them for 45 minutes or so…) – and in reflection, I’d rather by a human being watching it all…

Best memory: half way up the side of the canyon looking over the opposite canyon sides normally grey rock which was so thoroughly lit with moonlight that it was tinged blue in a way that I previously thought only possible with gel filters on a West End Stage – the world is a stage, after all. I hope we all get to the end of the play alive…

Oh, and Best Memory V2: The wonderful arse’s owner from ‘Lima to Pisco’ had turned up again… Good things always come round again. 🙂

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