Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon (though the walls aren’t as sheer) The Colca Canyon is the second deepest Canyon in the world (2nd only to the The Cotahuasi Canyon situated further to the northwest)
The most popular reason for a visit to the Colca Canyon is to see the Andean Condors close up as they soar gracefully rising up on the warm airs from deep in the canyon ready for a days hunting, but spend a few days there, visiting the villages and a stay at the Oasis is a really memorable experience.
They are the largest flying land birds in the Western Hemisphere, the Condors wingspan can measure up to 2.9m (9½ feet), and they can weigh up to 10.4 kg. (23 pounds).
This video gives you a good idea as to how big (and ugly) the Condors are up close.
Located 100 miles northwest of Arequipa the best way to see the Condors is not to go on an organised excursion from Arequipa but to have a mini adventure and get a local bus and stay in one of the villages nearby and fit a stay in at the Oasis situated at the bottom of the Colca Canyon.
The first night we stayed in Chivay, not the greatest of towns but does benefit from having a natural hot spring which was very nice and warm.
We spent one night in Chivay before getting an early bus that we hoped would be able to drop us off at the Condor viewing point on its way. The bus journey, a story in its self was probably the most terrifying point of our travels, we truly expected it to career off the edge of the road into the canyon as the maniac driver took 45 minutes to complete a suggested 2 hour journey, luckily for us and the van we clipped in the tunnel, we made alive, and very pleased to be alive.
After watching the sky intently for a few hours and catching a glimpse of only a few far off Condors we then really reaped the real benefit of taking the death bus, as the tourists on the organised tours left the Condors really started to come out in abundance and soar dramatically close by the viewing point, a truly incredible experience as the huge birds soared over head and the wind could be heard rushing through their feathers.
After the last Condors had soared off to hunt we waited for the bus with the few backpackers that were left and the local ladies with their bags full of souvenirs. When the bus arrived then came the mad rush to cram aboard, it was no holds bared as the ladies crushed against the bus even preventing the doors from opening…
Trying to travel with the ethos of a backpacker, no matter of budget, whether I'm across the other side of the world or over the road.
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