Please don’t get me wrong, our 3-day trek of the Colca Canyon was one of the best experiences of my life. The scenery, local communities, and one special mountain dog made for an incredible adventure. But man… it hurt!
Our trek began at 3am on Thursday morning, with a van ride to Chivay, the doorway to the Colca Canyon. After a meager breakfast we moved on to the Cruz del Condor, where the world’s largest land birds can be found soaring above the world’s 2nd deepest canyon. We snapped a few pics of the beasts and were then rolled out of our van and onto the trail that would be our home for the next three days. After 9km of downhill rock hopping, our feet and knees were screaming and so ready for a break. When we arrived in San Juan de Chuccho, we were greeted with fresh food, humble sleeping rooms, and gorgeous scenery. Upon closer inspection, we found that Adam’s feet had both fallen victim to huge blisters. (I have gross photos that I will share upon request.) I played doctor as best I could, but ultimately he would have to bandage them up and keep on truckin’.
Day two included a shorter 6km up-and-down hike with a stop in the canyon’s largest city, Cosñehua (population ~120). The canyon received electicity only four years ago so it still feels like you’re stepping back in Peruvian time. People herd sheep, donkeys, and cows around the canyon wearing traditional garb and speak quechua, the language of the Incas. At the end of the 6km we came upon “Oasis”, a green expanse of gorgeous flowers and swimming pools. We played volleyball with our trekking group and some locals, with an onlooking crowd of Peruvian men and boys. My new goal is to play at least once in each country I visit. It was in Oasis that we met Sincola the dog (sin = without; cola = tail), who will receive a blog post of his own. You all know how much of an animal freak I am, and this guy stole my heart.
At 5am the next morning we hit the trail for the final 6km, straight up the canyon. It was difficult. Very difficult. Adam’s feet and knees were so problematic that he took a mule to the top. I, however, stayed the course and plodded my way up there, arriving around 7:55am. Boom! The canyon had been conquered. On our way back to Arequipa, we made various stops to view local villages and far-off volcanoes. Although tired and hurting, we were so glad that we had made the trip. We also fell asleep at about 7pm. Ouch.