Another early start today ... we have to leave at 6am and the hotel staff have taken it upon themselves to wake the whole hotel at 5.15 whether they like it or not! After a swift breakfast, we're on the bus and heading for Colca Canyon. Just half an hour into the journey, we stop at a little village with a picturesque church. It may only be 6.30am on a Sunday, but the locals are ready for the tourists, and there's a group of local girls dressed in traditional costume dancing in the square. In the background, women stand with kestrels and llamas tempting tourists with 'spontaneous' photo opportunities! It's a chance to stretch our legs before off to the next similar stop at the village of Maca. There's more stalls set up here and the chance to visit the church, for a small donation, even though it is included on our tourist ticket ... hmm! I'm nervous about getting to the canyon because we've got up so early and there seems to be a stream of tourist buses passing ... let's get a move on!
Then our tour guide dramatically announces that we might have come to see the 'Flight of the Condor' but we're not going to see it ... what!! I want my money back ... surely we have a guarantee ... But, I can relax ... what the tour guide is trying to say is that condors do not actually fly, but glide through the air on the thermals, which is why they enjoy living in canyons so much. Phew! We pass a few ancient graves plastered high up in a rock face and then arrive at the Condor viewing point.
We find a spot at the top and sit and wait .... and wait ... and wait ...
Fran asks a woman if she has seen any condors today ... oh, yes! Several were around earlier ... they will come, she says. So we wait ... and then they appear. Low down at first (the thermals have got to rise to bring them closer) but then closer up. They glide through the air ... overall there seem to be about 8 of them. Everyone's jostling to try to catch pictures and videos and moving about to follow the birds. They are beautifully calm and their wingspan is impressive. Despite the numbers of tourists, it really is a tranquil sight.