At 7.30 am we were picked up in the hotel and started our journey towards Colca Canyon in a private van. We had several stops on the way to see lamas, alpacas, vicuñas, viscachas, different birds and of course the spectacular landscape. At 1 pm we stopped at the highest point of the trip, approximately 4900 meters. We had a buffet lunch in Chivay and afterwards we went for a swim and a beer in the hot springs.
We arrived in our hotel in Cabanaconde around 6 pm and after a beer and updating our webpage we went for dinner in a rustic, local restaurant. There were no electricity, only candles and a fireplace. Great food, great wine, great atmosphere and lots of smoke and sparks from the fireplace.
We got up at 6 am to eat breakfast before going to Cruz del Cóndor. We went for a short and freezing cold walk along the edge of the canyon before the first condors appeared around 8.30 am. At one time we could see ten of them gliding effortlessly on the thermal air currents rising from the canyon, some of them really close. With a wingspan of up to four meters they were really impressive.
Instead of going back to Arequipa the same way as most tours do, we drove through Cabanaconde and continued on a narrow dirt road over the mountains. At noon we had a picnic lunch in the park of the small village Huambo. We continued over the mountains, through the valley of volcanoes and went up to more than 4200 meters. On the way the landscape and the colours changed dramatically, and we had great views towards several snowcapped mountains, more than 6000 meters high.
The road down from the mountain was not as interesting. It was very, very bumpy and the view was mostly sand and cactuses for hours. We arrived in Arequipa around 6 pm, and after a long, hot shower we went for a farewell dinner at a recommended restaurant.