Day 5. It was a very special day with a beautiful sunrise, magnificent nature and incredible landscapes of Arequipa region. It became one of the most memorable days in my life. Make sure to see it yourself here on my YouTube channel!
The day before I booked a tour to the Colca Canyon, that started at 4 am. They picked us up from our hostel and took us on a long mountain ride.
Did I mention it was winter time in Peru? That was insanely cold! Please, don’t remind me that I’m Russian… I’m still a human and I didn’t have my Russian feather winter jacket. So yes, it was SUPER cold. I wore everything I had. Literally: 2 pair of socks, my new boots, leggings and jeans, a sleeveless t-shirt, a t-shirt, two newly bought alpaca sweaters, my autumn jacket, a scarf, a headband and I bought alpaca gloves. Do I tell you the truth? It really was COLD!
Anyway, after two hours we made a stop to have breakfast. It was full of traditional breakfast food as croissants with jam and butter, milk porridge and of course hot drinks that saved my ass me in that cold. As the trip was becoming higher and higher (literally) I drank 2 cups of coca tea hoping it can help. Anyway, I just liked it (though it smells like grass). While all the tourists were wrapping themselves in the scarfs the native people who served our tables were wearing traditional skirts, blouses and sandals. Nothing more. The question is HOW?
We got up so early to see the Andean condors, the symbolic bird of Colombia by the way, in Colca Valley with a depth of 3,270 m. Condors are the biggest flying birds in the Western Hemisphere. They have a maximum wingspan of 3.3 m! They fly away from their nests at 07.00 — 07.30 am, only once a day, so there is no way to be late.
Our second stop was in a small village Maca, where we saw a traditional dance performance (the girls were dancing in sandals!), a church and Misti volcano from afar. It was a really nice time to stop there as there was a small market with souvenirs and clothes, where I bought my alpaca gloves (I almost lost my fingers making photos there!).
After half an hour we continued the ride. It was a mountain path, so I was pretty sick again. And while other tourists of our group were listening to interesting stories of our guide, I was just sleeping. Finally, we arrived in the Colca Canyon, where already were a lot of other groups. I got an empty spot and was waiting for condors. The sun was already up and it became a bit warmer. I could put off my jacket at the end. Suddenly I heard someone’s exclamations and saw a huge bird. That was it. Condor in its greatness! I can’t describe my feelings when I saw it flying between two chains of mountains in the rays of a morning sun. This huge bird soaring so easily in that fresh air. Something magnificent, a piece of pure nature. There was nothing better that moment. Later we saw 4 more condors that were hunting someone on the steep of the mountain.
These 2 hours (I guess?) passed so quickly. Except for the birds, there was amazing nature with completely new for me plants and flowers. At a small market, I saw weird fruits that appeared to be a cactus fruit. There were two types: an orange one and a green one. The seller warned me they were too sour and that most of the people can’t eat them, but I decided to try, plus I already was quite hungry. The green one looked a lot like kiwi inside and probably had a similar taste. One thing is for sure: these fruits are too sour indeed 😀 But I still enjoyed eating them. And finished everything!
Everything was so interesting and the Sun was shining stronger and stronger that I could stay there for half a day for sure. But it was time to go to the next spot. We continued to the natural pools as they called it. In fact, it was just a pool with thermal water. I just went there to use a bathroom. Some people were swimming in the pool and it really didn’t look good. I mean, everything was clean and the pool was blue, but just imagining so many tourists swimming in the water that doesn’t have any filter… It’s definitely not for me.
Again we arrived in that small town where we were in the morning, had some lunch and continued to a higher point. As I said earlier all of our group enjoyed the stories of our guide during our bus drives, but that time more and more people were falling asleep. And not because of a road sickness, but the altitude sickness. Fewer and fewer of us were able to leave the van to walk around — people were just sleeping. Surprisingly and fortunately I felt super good. I was so proud of myself that moment when I woke up my friend to go out and he just could open his eyes. Though I know it’s a natural body reaction.
The reached altitude was 4910 m and it felt so different! I tried to walk as fast as I could to see everything, but my lungs couldn’t work properly! I breathed so deeply and so hard but still didn’t have enough air. I wasn’t dizzy, but I felt like a balloon: full with air and almost flying. The body felt floating and I reckon if I weight myself that moment I’d be several grammes lighter. Nature there was different as well. No trees, very little grass and only llamas pasturing. I took some photos then closed my eyes and tried to inhale all the gorgeousness of that place. It was a perfect spot for meditating, but I had to run back to the van taking into account that I actually couldn’t run.
All the way back to the city I was sleeping. Or meditating? And the rest of the group was having a quiz about facts they’ve learned during the tour. anyhow, after several hours I was happy to find myself in Arequipa. The rest of the day I spent walking around Plaza de Armas drinking coca tea…