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Colca Canyon

October 4, 2012

Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world only beaten by its close neighbour Cotahausi Canyon. However it is still over 1km deep at its deepest point.

The actual canyon is at one end of a beautiful valley which you reach over a high pass at 4800m. After crossing the pass the road drops down to the town of Chivay where you have to pay a high entrance fee to the valley of S70 per head (about USD 25 each). This does entitle you to up to 10 days in the valley however.

As you drive through, along a bumpy dirt road, the canyon begins to deepen and the sides of the valley are heavily terraced. By the time you reach a rough cut tunnel almost every inch of non-vertical ground is terraced across the whole breadth of the valley.

The main reason for visiting the Colca Canyon is the Condors which rise up from the depths of the valley as the sun creates thermals in the mornings. We spent the night at the Mirador Cruz del Condor so we were ready bright and early the following morning for the appearance of the condors.

It gets very crowded here in the morning with bus after bus of tourists arriving one after the other. As we were here overnight we were sitting in a prime position on a wall next to the high part of the Mirador at 7.30am ready for the Condors to start flying.

They begin low down in the canyon but as the sun gets hotter you can see the lift generated bringing them higher and higher. Eventually they should be eye level with the Mirador and then above.   It was an amazing sight.

For us the condors disappeared shortly before 9am and we decided to leave the tour buses behind and be on our way.

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