The first day’s track to the canyon
On the track you’ll see an upper leg. That was me sending us off in the wrong direction. I had used the ‘go to’ function on the GPS and it picked a goat track. I should have checked the path on the unit before we left.
Anyway, off we go in the right direction on the wrong road. We cross a river first
There’s a great footbridge
Back through a small town. All the towns in the valley have a similar feel. Some of this
And some of this
Then we’re off into the valley headed west on good if sometimes sandy or rocky dirt. Sometimes it does the Peruvian cliff-edge thing which is always fun. If you want to watch a good video of what riding around these villages and roads is like, it’s to the left. Me in front, Alvaro filming (click, enlarge and click HD). Alvaro’s testing his GoPro but it keeps getting dusted up here.
It feels a bit like Italy
At one we round a corner and there’s a van stuck. It takes about 30 minutes for him to get started again
We hang out and talk to a local. The valley is a network of aquifers and troughs moving water around in concrete or stone. Where we’re waiting water comes down a ramp beside us
Under the road. You have to watch for these as you’re riding – some are much bigger
And off to a field on the other side. It’s all very nice
Great country riding
It’s not long, an hour or so, before I figure out we’re on the wrong road. They take small tour buses up the Colca and it’s fairly obvious they’re not coming this way. So we reverse
I see the other road and we head there. It’s dirt too. We pass another bullfighting ring. Now I’m looking for them, they’re everywhere
We ride along a ridge road that looks over the valley. If you click to enlarge this you’ll see literally thousands of terraces built over many centuries by the Incans that recede to the far mountains. It’s the biggest terrace display I’ve seen in two months of Peru
The road gradually winds towards a canyon
In this pic you can see the road in the ridge cut to the left and a big fire on a valley wall to the right
A screen shot on this road (from an Alvaro video) showing the typical Peruvian epic drop-offs that are so much fun
A couple for hours later we turn a corner and we’re in the Colca Canyon. You need a different lens to show the truth of this staggering place. It’s the home of the great Andean Condor.
The condor viewing platforms
Giant walls opposite
It’s 13,650 feet deep. This photo is most of that. We’re late for the condors. An indigenous woman says it’s too hot. We wait for an hour, enjoying the views. Then empty-handed but not unhappy we head back. We stop at this village
We have a cactus juice at one of the four our five stalls in the market
A llama and a peregrine tied to a post
An old bird man is walking through the market with another peregrine.
For a few solas Alvaro poses with it. A beautiful bird, in pristine condition.
We met some German riders in the village. We’d seen them before up at the viewpoint. They’d rented bikes in Arequipa and were on a guided tour riding Peru for three weeks.
They’d seen the condors. Arrggh. Oh well, next time. We headed back to our hotel on the river and talked business over beers
The next morning we resumed our business chat until the days’ ride back to Arequipa was going to have to be a very fast one. We started off with construction delays. Bikes to the front, as always
Then back through the burbs into Arequipa. It had been a very fast ride.