colca canyon arequipa peru

Condors at Colca Canyon

We decided to spend our next day in Arequipa taking a day trip to Colca Canyon. Most people take at least a few days to travel out there and explore the region, but we just didn’t have that kind of time. And let’s face it, we were not quite up to more hiking at that point.

We got up bright and early to get picked up for our bus ride to Colca Canyon. It was quite cold, but the benefits of waking up at 3 am are that you get to enjoy the expansive night sky filled with stars in silence of early, early morning. Not to mention, because of our early wake up call, we spent the night prior just laying in bed watching ridiculous music videos.

Our bus finally came and picked us up for the several-hour drive to the canyon. I dozed off to the sounds of horrible 80s music. From now on, “Take On Me” will always remind me of Peru.

When we finally got to the canyon, it was prime time for condor-watching. For about an hour, we hung out just watching condors swoop by. But even without the birds, the views were amazing. It was all just so natural – the deep canyon, the surrounding cliffs, and the huge, snow-capped mountains in the background. Visually, it was just incredible. The far away mountains didn’t even look real. It all looked like a living postcard.

Condor flying overhead
Seriously, look at those mountains

After the canyon, we piled back into the bus and stopped at a couple sites. One was a viewing point for “hanging” tombs up in the mountainside. Another was a view of the never-ending terraces carved into the terrain. And of course, a tourist stop at a small town where the main attraction was taking a photo with a llama and a hawk. Instead of spending money on that, I snapped some shots of a couple little lambs just chilling by a bathroom behind one of the vendor stalls.

Never-ending terraces
Little lambs

Our almost-last stop was at a hot springs pool where we had some time to bathe and relax. Even though it was a bit chilly outside, the hot water was wonderful. Then, we went to eat lunch at the same spot where we ate breakfast – a small restaurant that played William Luna music videos in a non-stop loop.

Outside our breakfast & lunch spot

Our final stop before the four-hour drive back to Arequipa was another viewing platform. To be quite honest, like for most of the stops during the day, I wasn’t exactly sure what the significance was because our guide’s English was pretty horrible and I was also having trouble completely understanding his Spanish. But, I did finally buy a couple toy alpacas complete with real baby alpaca fur.

The ride back, I drifted in and out of sleep as the 80s tunes and random Andean music rolled on.

By the time we got back it was pretty much evening, so there really wasn’t much time for sightseeing. We met up with a friend for dinner and rounds of pisco sours. That was followed by hitting a couple clubs not too far from Plaza de Armas where we drank and danced and….ran into our Colca Canyon guide! Random!

There was nothing like returning from a long day of sightseeing, bus riding, drinking and dancing, to our quiet hotel courtyard where we could lay on the lawn chairs and look up at those awesome stars. At 4 am. When we had an early flight to catch the next morning. Oops…

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