Colca Canyon, home of the majestic condor
Colca Canyon, one of the deepest on Earth with a depht of 3270m which is roughly twice the depht of the Grand Canyon in the US, lies only a few hours’ drive from Arequipa. We couldn’t miss the chance to visit it, as well as its incredible king – the Andean condor, the largest bird on the planet with a wingspan that can reach 3,3 meters.
But in order to see it we had to wake up at 3AM, just to be able to get a glimpse of its feeding period right after sunrise. We headed to a place called Cruz del Condor where they usually show up. When we arrived around ten bald condors were making large circles and quick descents from the sky.
Those who are younger than 3 years are black and white, while the mature ones have brown feathers. With the deep canyon in the background it was a truly majestic show of the beauty of the nature.
On the way back we stopped to see some handicraft markets with locals still wearing traditional costumes (and again they had different hats that indicated if they are married or single). It was the perfect opportunity to take some “touristy” pictures with alpacas and hawks.
The Mismi Mountain with its terraced slopes lies on the North side of the canyon. This mountain is very famous because on its slopes we can find the origin of the Amazon River that flows from the continental divide (which is so close to the Pacific) all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
Just because the biggest canyon, the biggest bird and the origin of the biggest river were not enough things to see in one day, we headed afterwards to the “Viewpoint of the Andes” at around 5000m to see a string of 9 volcanos (one still active), the biggest ones surpassing 6000m.
The altiplanos (the high plains situated at high altitude) are home to herds of alpacas and vicuñas that move freely on thousands of hectares of National Reserve. Some of the alpacas are domesticated and not shy of the camera when approached, while the vicuñas are still wild and scared of the human presence.
It was yet another day at the end of which we bowed to the mightiness of the wilderness.