Flight of the Condors
May 14-15, Chivay & Colca Canyon
We arrive in Chivay late in the afternoon, after a fairly boring 440 km drive. A few of us take a soak in the thermal springs known as “La Calera” which are located just a short distance from the town.
Dinner that night is at the local street market; grilled alpaca, chicken, or pork are all on offer. The local tea is delightful; is a concoction of herbs, flowers and honey. It has to be one of the cheapest meals we’ve eaten.
Early the following morning we head to the River Colca which runs from high in the Andes right down to the Pacific.
The vista is spectacular, vast Andean terraces tower up over the canyon, dotted by tiny villages that probably haven’t changed in centuries.
The canyon is also renowned as a haven for condors. Each morning they drop from their nest in the rugged cliffs to the valley floor, rising up on the morning thermals scanning for carrion below.
The Condor features throughout South American and has featured throughout history as a symbol of good health and prosperity. Unfortunately, they are declining in numbers as man encroaches on its habitat.
Watching the majestic condor rise from the valley is an incredible site. The tips of their wings spread like fingers controlling the slow graceful ascent high into the morning sun.
They are the largest flying bird, with an average wing span over 3 meters and can expand over 4 meters and weigh around 12 kg.
On the way out of the Canyon we have a panoramic view from the roof of the truck. Aside from the dust, wind and bumpy roads it was great fun sitting up top.
We make a brief stop at a little town on our way out of the Canyon. It’s a bit of a tourist trap and the only reason I mention it is because Don’s patting the Llama, who then turns around and spits in my face – charming!