Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Extra grand canyoning

Arriving in Arequipa our first challenge was finding our hostel. Our taxi driver did not know where it was and despite the fact we had given him the address dropped us off a few streets away. As Katie took a stroll around the pretty historic streets of arequipa I settled in to the important business of watching spurs in FA cup semi final. I probably should have gone with her as Spurs were thrashed still can't sulk when on such a great adventure. Had a quiet couple of days in Arequipa in preparation for a three day hike through an area known as Colca Canyon.

The canyon is the second deepest in the world at 3191m and is an incredibly beautiful place to go walking. We decide to join an organised three day hike which unfortunately picked us up from our hostel at the ungodly hour of 3am. With very little sleep we set off on an uncomfortable mini bus journey with our group. Once we had all woken up at breakfast we got to know our group who were from all round the world (Peru, Poland, Germany, Israel,Ireland and Brazil.) and all very friendly. Before we started on the hike proper we stopped off at a view point to take some photos. At first we could see nothing but clouds, but when they cleared the view of the canyon was breathtaking. As exciting as the view below was the sight of three giant condors flying just over our heads. Our guide told us that they have a win

gspan of over 3meters and can live over 70 years.

The first day of the trek was pretty easy as it was all downhill into the canyon. Katie was struggling to save the battery on her camera as we had forgotten to charge it fully before we left, as Katie hadn't been very well the night before, but it was so hard with so many great views in front of us. We stopped at a little village for lunch and all went to bed for a siesta to catch up on our sleep and in the evening we taught some of the group Yachtzee


The next day our trek wound its way along the canyon along what our guide Sandro called Peruvian flat which basically meant a lot of ups and downs. Along the way Sandro pointed out all the local fauna and even took us to a little museum which consisted of a small room where an enthusiastic local told us all about local traditional customs and gave us Chicha the traditional Incan beer. Fortified we walked on to our next stop a place called the Oasis. It really did look like an Oasis with lush grass, flowers and a swimming pool all fed by the mountain springs. After seeing Katie splashing about in the pool I knew I had to join her even though it was a bit cold and I had to swim in my pants as I had forgotten by swimming shorts. The only thing that broke the image of paradise at the oasis was our visitor in the night. Katie spotted something crawling on our wall above the bed and when I checked it out I found it was a scorpion. After I had tried a few times to knock it into a bag Katie decided to call a member of staff who expertly disposed of it for us.

Our last days hiking while only 3hours was by far the hardest. We set off just as it was getting light at 5am and started scaling the steep side of the canyon. Each step we had to remind ourselves that it was good practice for the inca trail. At the top we felt a sense of satisfaction and we're rewarded with yet more great views. We also bumped into our old friend Sarah from the hike we did in Ecuador. Which was especially good as we had lost her email address. As a reward to our bodies for getting us through the trek we had a massive buffet lunch, tried Alpaca for the first time, and soaked ourselves in the local hot springs. It had been such a great trek and had surprised us as it wasn't one of the highlights that we had been looking forward to but is now perhaps up there on the list of top things we've done so far. And we'd made some good friends, a fun Irish and Polish couple in particular.

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