Paul & Cherie Peru Trip 2011 travel blog

Crops growing in the valley.

The holes in the mountain wall are tombs of very important Incas.

2,000 year old terraces.

One of the highest points of the Colca Canyon.

Colca Canyon

The Andean Condor.

Colca river at the bottom of the canyon.

Glaciers can be seen on the mountains on the right hand side.

The cacti were blooming since the rains had begun.

Local women going home after trying to sell their goods at the...

Fireplace to relax at in the evening at the lodge. The nights...

Hammocks to rest in and enjoy the Colca Valley view.

A typical church. Usually the biggest building at the Plaza de Armas.

Inside of the church was very elaborate.

The altar of the church.

One of the many alcoves in this small church.

A monument of Juanita - the ice maiden.


THE ANDEAN CONDOR

Early start! Up at 5 am. We are off by 6 am to explore the Colca Canyon. The mountains outside our hotel were whiter on the tops this morning because it snowed overnight. As we drove along the top of the canyon we saw hundreds of terraes that are 2,000 years old. They were created by the Collagua and Cabana people. They were built to control irrigation and erosion and in order to grow crops. Today communites living in the valley use these rerrace for cultivation.

The road we were driving along had been damaged by the earthquake in 2007. It is built along the side of the mounains. It was a very bumpy ride. The peruvians call it the Andean massage. The side of the road away from the mountain was very steep. I wouldn´t want my vehice to go off the road! One part of the road was so badly destroyed by the earthquake that a tunnel was built through the side of the mountain as an alternate route.

Colca Canyon is the 2nd deepest in the world(3,400m). Catahuasi Canyon also in Peru is the deepest. The Grand Canyon is the third deepest in the world. The valley was home to the Cabana and Collagua people almost 2,000 years ago. They built a system of terraces that trapped melting run-off water from the nearby snow-capped mountains. When the Spanish arrived they put the farmers to work in the mines scattering the people into 14 villages. Each village has its own plaza and beauriful Colonial Church.

Along the way we passed through a natural reserve that protects a variety of plants and animals. We saw many llamas, alpacas and vicunas. We also saw a special bright green moss on the rocks. It only grows 1 cm in a year. Locals would dry it and use it as fuel for cooking and heating. So, it is now protected.

We arrived at one of the highest areas in the canyon, where the condors live. We saw 5 flying around while we hiked along the edge of the canyon. The condor is the worlds largest flying bird. It is 4 ft tall and has a wing span of 10 ft., weighing 27 lbs. It flies for hours gliding in the thermal currents. Condors feed on dead animals like llamas, vicunas or cows. They have excellent smell and remarkable eye sight. They don´t make sounds because they have no vocal cords. And they don´t like loud sounds, so you have to be quiet. The condors were nesting in the sides of the canyon at the moment. They will have 1 to 2 chicks every 2 years. They mate for life. If their mate dies they will find a new one. Condors were considered sacred by the Incas and were numerous in numbers. The species is now "vulnerable" due to centuries of hunting, habitat loss and the rampant use of pesticides by farmers.

After a rest at the hotel we went to relax in the hot springs, La Calera. It was a pool filled with the natural sulfur and iron hot spring water. We sat on the steps in the pool sipping beer while looking out at the canyon walls. These springs help with the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis. It felt wonderful!

We went to the Plaza in Chivay to have dinner. We saw the monument of Juanita-the Ice Maiden. She is the Andes first frozen female mummy. She was found bundled in wool on Mount Ampato. She is considered one of the world´s best preserved mummies. She was sacrificed by Inca priests high up in the mountain. She was buried with wooden and gold figurines and assorted items she would need for the after life. Carbon dating has shown she died between 1440 and 1450. She was from a royal familyand knew she was going to be sacrificed since she was a young girl. She was around 4 years old. It is considered an honour to be chosen.



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