After our bout of sickness seemed as though it was over, that is our fevers had broken and our ability to stand/walk independently had returned, we decided to celebrate our return to health by trekking Colca Canyon for three days.
Colca Canyon is supposedly the deepest canyon in the world (twice as deep as the Grand Canyon) and the trek involved spending one day hiking down it, one day hiking across it (to an Oasis!), and then one day hiking back up out of it. It seemed like a good way to say thank you to our weakened bodies for returning to health.
The first morning of the trek we were picked up from our hostel at 3:30 am to drive to the start of the trek. Here we scoped out some Condors riding the drafts at the top of the canyon, and then started our decent.
It may be because I am from San Diego, or it may be because I have seen too many Corona beer commercials, whatever the reason, the fact remains that I often have trouble seeing the beauty of landscapes that aren’t tropical white sand beaches edged with inviting bodies of water filled with various shades of blue and green.
However, hiking down Colca Canyon I had to grudgingly admit to myself that dry earth and boulders of frightening proportions, as well as sheer cliff faces that tell the stories of how the earth was formed can also be pretty freakin’ gorgeous.
It’s a bit different though, more imposing and impressive and less welcoming than a lazy beach scene. Definitely beautiful- but almost in a scarier way.
The bottom of the canyon is only reachable by foot or mule. I couldn’t stop thinking about how almost every item I saw had to be carried down by a person, or a donkey-horse. From the beds we slept on, to the pillows, chairs, snickers bars and even the framed pictures of elephants photo shopped on grassy scenes- everything! Even the materials to build the various bridges that criss cross the river at the bottom of the canyon, each brick for the church and the metal hoop to grace the top of the basketball pole. Pretty amazing!
Where we stayed the first night had electricity (the people there were pretty excited about it, as it is a recent advancement) and where we stayed the 2nd night did not. Which makes light painting with flashlights that much easier 🙂
The place we stayed the second night was also a legit Oasis, with a pool and everything! The pool was drained and refilled daily, living below the water table apparently means you have water to spare…
The pool was definitely welcome sight after hiking across the canyon in the morning- unsuccessfully dodging the sun.
The next morning we again had an early start (4:30 am) to try to make it to the top of the canyon before the sun got too strong. We saw some people on the way up who had opted to go mule-back instead of by foot. I have to admit there were times near the end of the hike that I wouldn’t have said no to a lift. It was quite a walk up, and actually a bit humbling. Old injuries were re-ignited, and confidence in my physical prowess was a bit shaken, but I made it to the top by my own steam! Mission Colca Canyon completed.