If I was to hike somewhere with Winnie the Pooh this is where I imagine it would be. And Winnie isn’t a metaphor for my mam
Although she was with me on this trek. After 6 months of missing my little ass she’d flown out for a two-week adventure in Peru with me. Here’s why trekking Colca Canyon took my breath away
This was hands down her favourite activity. And being honest. It’s up there for me as one of the top things I did in 8 months of South America backpacking. I was loving the postcard picturesque green scenery. Not that I’m comparing myself to Indiana Jones, it would be The Rock if anyone. But trekking on the side of a canyon over two days with snakes, condors and 1000 feet drops. Just call me Indiana.
A tricky hike?
The mother didn’t find this a tricky hike, not in comparison to the Inca Trail. The Condors were a sell for this place but we researched a little beyond that. We found there’s some dam pretty trekking trails to be had. And there was. I hate tour agencies. Mainly because I associate them with loud mouthed arrogant Americans that will spoil any scenic travel moment. But on this occasion with the mother I needed a certain level of guidance and comfort for her. The old birds getting on past 60. Not that you’d think it. She takes down hill climbing in the Lakes of England like it’s candy floss. However, Peru’s a slightly different kettle of fish.
Booking Colca Canyon
So we went hunting in the agencies around the square of Arequipa. I’m going to suck it up and say it. The agency we used were awesome. They didn’t try rip us, add extras or talk bollocks to us. They gave us a 2-day package that included a private guide, private taxi there and back and a beautiful little boutique hotel stop for the first night trek. Pack lunches included. On my own I would have opted for a hostel group excursion. Possibly the one-day tour, got back and got hammered drunk. With the mother we looked at it from a different point of view. A trekking opportunity. The agency was next to Hostal Maison plaza should you find yourself in a similar scenario.
Trekking the canyon – staying a night in a local village – trekking to condor point – trekking to some natural hot springs for a dip – the journey back via one of Peru’s active smoking volcanoes.
The two day adventure trek
We were up early and picked up from our charming little boutique, but reasonable Mansion Riviera hotel. The mother had done her fair share of hostel staying in Lima. And her fair share of drunken Pisco Sour dancing with the young hostel lads. She’s still got it. So a charming hotel it was for Arequipa.
Our guide, I forget his name, jumped out and met us. Super energetic chap. He remained that way for the full adventure. We set off from the starting point of the trek, which was a good few 2000m+ in altitude. The journey was about 2 hours filled with the guide giving us a full history and info lesson about the canyon and Arequipa. I have a thing for the Incas. I reckon they rock! He gave us the low down on the civilisation and what Colca Canyon and the Condors meant to them. In truth I’ve forgot it all otherwise I’d lay down a little bit of goss here to impress.
From the get go it was gobs-open stunning scenery. The place was lush green as far as the eye could see. We were straight down and onto the hills that run along the side of the canyon. I didn’t find this trek the type where you’re aiming for somewhere to then have the incredible view. It was non stop incredible views. Turning my little head to the right I was peering over one of the largest canyons on the planet. Above, one of the largest birds on the planet. The Condor.
We strolled through little farms and followed stone wall paths for about 6 miles. Lunch and break stops were some of the best I’ve been lucky enough to lay my sandwich eating eyes on. Towards the days end we made it to the little village of Cabaconde and our nights’ rest.
It was a reasonable 9am start after a light breakfast. Our cherpy guide was hot on our tail with the day’s plans. Today was Condor lookout point day and the hot springs, allllright!. We set off trekking over similar plains to the previous day but ventured lower into the canyon. Two miles in and we came across a snake.
I’ve only ever seen a wild snake once before in Bali, shocked me then, shocked me now. This little chap made it rather difficult to pass as we were on a tight ledge about to go under a tunnel. He was seeking shade in the entrance path. Luckily our guide was not only a cherpy chap but also Crocodile Dundee. He pinned his head with a stick while we sneaked around the outside of his back end.
Making it to Condor point was the cherry on top. The rice fields leading up to it made for wicked views. They recommend you get to Condor point early around 10am to watch the big buggers. They use the hot thermals to rise high before they saw off to hunt for miles. It was crowded but what can you expect. Grabbing our spot when we arrived, we locked it down and waited for big bird to appear. These fellas are impressive. Their wing span is like a plane. Not many things can have me sitting for over an hour staring but these guys did. Once we’d caught some very zoomed in pixelated shots we set back off for the springs.
The springs weren’t the best I’ve come across, but they weren’t the worst either. There was about 6 -7 pools to choose from. Five of which you could have boiled rice in. It was very quiet however, which was a treat. Back in the car and on the road we passed the active Volcano. Totally forgot the name but it looks like the below. Seeing it in real life, it’s like the smoking chimney of Satan’s house. All-in-all a glorious two days outing.
- Stay at The Mansion Riviera in Arequipa for economy with a well designed ‘cool vibes feel’ hotel.
- Spend 2/3 days on a walking tour of this beautiful place.
- Take a tour that walks through the canyon.
- Shop around in Arequipa for the best deal.
- Take a tour that stops at the springs.
- Get to Condor view point early.
- Take a zoom lens.
- Wear walking boots.
- Take snacks.
- Walk out and around Cabaconde if you stay there for the night. There’s some tip top views for photos.
- Just do a day tour, it’s quite a drive plus this place is beautiful.
- Skimp on accommodation, the villages are pretty basic and accommodation is too. Pay a little more for a lot more.
- Go in a crowded massive tourist bus. Group up and hire a private guide.
And on and on…
Tips for healthy eats
- I’d approach this as if it was a real trek. It’s more like a pleasurable stroll in my opinion. None the less you may find this post on advice for nutrition when trekking useful. The main market Mercado San Camilo offers a huge variety of cheap fruits, veg, smoothies, nutritious broths and soups.
- There’s also a pretty well stocked supermarket on the main square with juices and fruits.
How to get meat for that protein hit
- I’d approach this as if it was a real trek. It’s more like a pleasurable stroll in my opinion. None the less you may find this post on advice for nutrition when trekking useful.
Where to exercise
No where. This is a solid leg session of hiking. Stock up on seeds and take your BCAA and Glutamine. Hit the upper body hard for the days leading up to it. Then let that upper body rest while the legs take some constant tension. My No space resistance band muscle builder plan can help you with that.
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