The Colca Canyon
04.04.2008 - 09.04.2008 33 °C
On returning to Cusco from the Inca Trail we decided that we should celebrate my birthday with a proper meal out rather than the bowl of pasta that we had grabbed in Aguas Calientes so we scrubbed up and headed out to a restaurant called Cicciolina's near the town centre. Here we were treated to what was without a doubt one of the finest meals of our travels. It was a bit of an extravegance but worth every cent. By the time we had finished with our squid, prawns, scallops, risotto's, dessert's, fine wine and cocktails we were fairly feeling the exhaustion of the last few days and had to call it a night.
Before we finally headed off to Arequipa the following day we found a curry house called Maikhana just off the main plaza. Well, needs must and so we dived in for a quick lunch. Quick it may have been, but small it was not. We had pakora coming out of our ears, enough rice to feed 8 and 2 first class curries. Cusco really was good to us on the food front. We realise that moreso than ever now we are not there any more.
Cusco was not just missed for the food but also some friends. We had to say our goodbye's to Andreas and Christina there. Whilst we would be heading to Arequipa they were heading for the jungle for 3 weeks with a guide and horse. Hopefully they are having an amazing time as I write.
We arrived in Cusco early evening. The hostel was situated right in the heart of the city which was perfect given the beautiful architecture of the plaza and surroundings. We spent a few days here merely taking it easy and planning a trip to the Colca Canyon for some more trekking as if we had not had enough. Arequipa's only other real attraction is El Misti, a 6,000+ meter Volcano that casts it's shadow over the city below. Sadly we didn't have time to scale El Misti and do the trek.
Monday came and at 6am we met up with the 3 others who we organised to do the trekking with via the agency who supplied the guide. After a few hours we arrived at the start point and began to discuss the next 3 days itinerary. It was then that I realised the agent had sent us on the wrong trek. Our starting and end points were the same but most of the trek itself was completely different to what we were led to believe we were buying. It's fair to say I was pretty livid. Still, I would speak to the agent later.
The Colca Canyon is recognised as being one of the deepest in the world so it was going to be pretty tough going. Day 1 would be spent getting to the bottom where we would stay for the night. Day 2 we would trek along the bottom and stay overnight and day 3 we would come up the canyon at 2am in the dark so we would be up to the top in time to see the condors. This plan didn't really suit the group with the 2am start on day 3 so we amended day 2 to include the hike of day 3 too. It was going to be tough.
In the end the trekking itself was nothing spectacular. Certainly not close to anything else we had done during our travels. Unfortunately the terrain meant we spent more time looking at our foot and worrying about our footing than anything else. Several times you would see people flat on their backside sliding down the paths.
However, the guide was a nice chap called Alexandro and there was a nice girl from Ireland with us and 2 girls from France. Without trying to be overly harsh one of the French girl's (Sophie) has to go down as about as stupid a person as I have ever met in my entire life. Anyone who admits to having dinner 2 times a day regularly because she forgets the first has to I think. Just to re-iterate the point she managed to get completely lost on day 2 by wandering off. Not really a surprise given it was about the 3rd or 4th time she had done so. Either way it cost the group a fair bit of time and the guide some unwanted grief. Oddly her friend didn't seem to care one bit as she voted to hike on without her. Some friend I thought. Who needs enemies!
Going up the canyon turned out to be the hardest trek I have ever done. Usually it's a case of just getting on with it but I was really struggling at times with the afternoon heat hitting the high 30's on my back and having a severe lack of water. Just as the sun was beginning to set Ali and I hit the top. It was a massive relief to say the least. It's also fair to say I slept well that night.
Day 3 of the trek was to culminate in a viewing of the condors. We got on a local bus and 30 minutes later we were at the mirador. The condors were fabulous. Up to 4 meter's I had been told. I have no idea how big the one's that flew over our heads were but they were big. A few landed nearby allowing us to get some snaps in what proved to be a nice ending to a rather dissappointing trek.
On returning to Arequipa I was straight down to the agent's office. I had thought about it for 3 days and had plenty time to cool down but I was still rather angry that he had deliberately sent us on the wrong trek. It wasn't as if he hadn't had an opportunity to speak to us either. I was told that he would not give us any money back in no uncertain terms. Anyway, I think he took one look at how annoyed I was when I finally clapped eyes on him and he was straight into his pocket to give us money back. If I could have been bothered arguing I would have gone for the full amount but as it was I was totally knackered from the previous 3 days.
Arequipa didn't have much left to offer us so we would be leaving later that night. However, there was one last opportunity to get a kebab from the Turkish restaurant. How delicious it was and the previous few days were soon a distant memory.