Colca Canyon, Cruz Del Condor and on to Ica
Happy July!!! Today we were told that breakfast, in our hostel, would be at 5:30am and our bus would be by to pick us up at six. I woke up at five, groggy and confused, threw my stuff together, got dressed, and headed into the hostels breakfast area for my morning meal. Nobody in sight, no hostel workers, no guests, no one anywhere. I sat there for a good ten minutes reprimanding myself for being on time, a lot of good it did, sat in my sluggish state and tried not to pass out at the table. Around 5:45 a woman came out with a thermos filled with hot water, a packet of instant coffee, and some rock-hard rolls with jam. I asked her for a menu and she shook her head 'no', otherwise informing me that I had no options. I chain sawed my way through the bread and macked down on the cardboard rolls and gritty coffee shavings until our bus pulled up.
We set off for a 40minute drive to the highlight of this two day excursion, Cruz del Condor.
Cruz del Condor is a lookout point on one side of the Colca Canyon that is famous in Peru for observing the elegant Andean condors.
At nearly 4,000 ft above the canyon river, beginning at 9am, the condors appear, circling far below in the gorge and gradually gaining altitude with each pass, until they, literally, soar above the heads of awe-struck admirers, such as myself.
They are the biggest birds in the world, with wing spans of up to 12 feet, and because of their immense size and weight, they can not simply lift off the ground, they have to take flight from cliff perches. Every morning they emerge from their cave dwellings and climb sensationally before heading down the river in search of prey. Watching them circle in the air is breathtaking and they fly with such beauty and grace, it's mesmerizing.
They came so close to me, I think if I would have held my hand in the air, I would have grazed a talon. I got some great shots and loved every minute of it!
Along with the magical condors, the canyon itself is a beautiful sight to see. Reaching depths of 11,150 ft, it is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and it forms part of the massive volcanic mountain range, more than 62 miles long.
The Colca river, which slices through the immense canyon, is also one of the sources of the forceful Amazon river.
We watched the condors soar for an hour or two and trekked around the canyon for a while before our four hour bus ride back to Arequipa.
When we got back we arranged a ten hour overnight bus trip to Ica for the night. We bought the best, most direct bus they had advertised, but we had already learned not to expect much. Being prepared for a broke-down Peruvian ice box, void of sleep, I armed myself as best as I could, layering as many clothes as I could comfortably fit on my body and making a special trip to the Pharmacia for some sleep aids. I had a few hours before the bus trip at 9:30pm so I chilled at La Casa Blanca, drank a fresh strawberry smoothie and watched the time tick by.
I got to the bus station where they ushered me into a luxurious lounge, where I did indeed lounge, until they called us to board.
I walked outside and feasted my eyes on what looked like a tour bus fit for the queen of England and unexpectedly boarded the most lavish bus I've ever seen.
Better than a first class airline ticket, our seats reclined to a sleeping position and on our lovely leather sleepers were a prepackaged, brand new, fleece blanket and pillow.
The dinner they served was a, nothing special, chicken sandwich, but I was in such awe of the luxury of our seats and the ambiance of the quiet bus, I didn't even care.
As the HD screens folded down, as if from heaven, I plugged in my headphones, reclined my seat and took the invisible tiara off my head for bedtime.
I only made it through half of the movie before the sleeping pills forced my eyes shut and locked. Ten hours later I woke up in Ica, refreshed and stunned that I hadn't been disturbed once during the drive. Clearly this is the only way to travel!