ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “Canyon

FARMING TERRACES, Colca Canyon, Peru

We should have spent more time in the Colca Canyon.  Our 2-day local tour allowed us very little time to enjoy the natural scenery of the magnificent valley, except stopping at lookouts along the way to and from the Cruz del Condor.  If time allowed, we could have done one of the hiking tours that reach the very bottom of the canyon.  At twice the depth of Arizona’s Grand Canyon, the bottom of Colca Canyon is much warmer and more humid than the top.  The Colca Canyon is largely covered by pre-Inca farming terraces.  For over a thousand years, Andean farmers constructed agricultural terraces to cultivate potatoes, maizes, and other crops in the shallow soil on mountain slopes.

After Cruz del Condor, our tour bus stopped a couple of times along the road for us to appreciate the Colca Canyon.  Farming terraces carved into mountain slope, but not all were planted with crops.  In fact, many terraces, especially the higher ones furthest away from the valley, looked like as if they had been abandoned for centuries.  The stepping profile of the abandoned terraces revealed a fading trace of human manipulations to the rough and mountainous terrain along the Colca River in precolonial times.

It was already noontime by the time we arrived at Chivay.  After lunch, we bid farewell with the rest of the tour group who would return to Arequipa.  We, on the other hand, would switch bus and continue our journey over the Andean highlands to the city of Puno, where we would begin our next phase of our Peruvian journey, the Lake Titicaca.

1Locals at a mountain village at the Colca Canyon.

2Agricultural fields on a plateau in the  Colca Valley.

3[scanned positive slide] Agricultural fields and farming terraces beyond.

4[scanned positive slide] Agricultural fields on a plateau overlooking the depth of Colca Canyon.

5Cactus is common in Colca Canyon.

6Farming terraces were everywhere.

7[scanned positive slide] Farming terraces all the way down to Colca River.

8Farming terraces of Colca Canyon.

9[scanned positive slide] Farming terraces of Colca Canyon.

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Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

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CRUZ DEL CONDOR, Colca Canyon, Peru

It was early in the morning. one by one, tour buses meandered through the winding road along Colca Canyon to arrive at Mirador Cruz del Condor, a popular destination in Southern Peru.  Everyone was anxious to arrive at the mirador (lookout) early in the morning, when warm air rose from the canyon, helping the majestic birds to take off for their flights from their cliff-side nests.  We arrived at the lookout at around 9:00am.  There were already many tourists gathering along the cliff for an unobstructed view of the gliding condors.

Condors are the largest flying land birds in the Western Hemisphere.  Their wing span can reach to over 3m wide.  These scavengers mainly feed on carrion of the South American camelids or domesticated livestock.  Andean condors become national symbols for a number of South American countries.  In Peru, condors had inspired many folklore and local beliefs.  Our guide told us that Andean condors were now threatened by secondary poisoning from the carcasses killed by local hunters.

We stayed at the mirador for about an hour, spending most of the time following the condors through our camera lens.  Before leaving, we also checked out the jewelry and souvenir stalls near the stone cross.

1Colca Canyon is about 1200m deep at Mirador Cruz del Condor

2Condors circling up against the canyon backdrop

3A condor flew right above us.

5The lookout at Mirador Cruz del Condor

6Condor at Colca Canyon

7Condor at Colca Canyon

8A cross monument at Mirador Cruz del Condor

9Condors, tourists and the cross.

10Whenever a condor glided above the tourists, it would arose excitement in the crowd.

11

Stone plaque at Cruz del Condor

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Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

 


VOLCANOES AND VICUNA, Pampa Cañahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru

The next morning, a tour minibus came to our hotel to pick us up for our prearranged two-day tour of the Colca Canyon.  Located about 100 miles from Arequipa, Colca Canyon is a popular tourist attraction for visitors of the colonial city.  Andean condors, highland wildlife, Inca farming terraces, extinct and dormant volcanoes, mountain scenery, Quechua and Aymara cultures, and a river valley over twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Colca Canyon has a lot to offer.

After picking up a dozen or so of fellow travelers from various hotels around Arequipa, our minibus left Arequipa and headed for the mountainous area of Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve.  At a midway lookout, we stopped for a short break to admire a group of vicuna under the shadow of mighty Misti Volcano.  Vicuna, the national animal of Peru, is one of the two wild South American camelids and the ancient ancestor of alpacas.  Wild vicuna produces some of the finest and most expensive wool in the world.  The sighting of wild vicunas under the Misti officially kicked off our visit to the Peruvian highlands.  Our minibus climbed up steadily from the elevation of about 2,300m to over 3,500 at a popular tourist service station at Patahuasi, where herbal tea such as coca or muna were served.  Outside the service station, vendors took up a concrete lot selling all kinds of souvenirs from handicrafts to knitted garments.

After the tea and souvenir break, our minibus continued to ascend the highlands above 4000m in elevation, passing by a number of scenic highland wetlands and reaching the highest pass of Patapampa at 4900m.  By then, many of us on the bus had shown symptoms of high altitude sickness, from stomachache to terrible headache.  At Patapampa, there was a brief stop where we could take in the magnificent mountain views in the embrace of a number of extinct volcanoes.  A few souvenir stalls and llamas stood by the lookout, awaiting for tourists like me who braved the high altitude sickness for a heroic feat of photographing ourselves of reaching a 4900m+ pass.  To avoid the danger of high altitude sickness due to our rapid ascend from Arequipa to Patapampa, the 4900m stop was very brief while our movements outside the bus were kept in slow motion.

After Patapampa, our bus gradually descended to the mountain valley of Chivay at 3600m.  Before reaching Chivay, we made a final stop at a lookout overlooking the valley.  We walked over to the cliff edge to photograph the scenery of Chivay in a distance.  Several Quechua vendors dressed in traditional clothing braved the scorching sun and fierce wind selling tourist souvenirs and traditional alpaca knitwear.

2Leaving Arequipa behind, our minibus ascended to the highlands of Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve.

1Much of the landscape is rough and covered by volcanic stone.

3The extinct volcanoes of the area reveal an active geological past. [Scanned positive slide]

4Wild vicunas roamed these lands under the shadow of Misti Volcano. [Scanned positive slide]

5Patahuasi has the only service stop between Arequipa and Chivay, and is a frequent tea stop for tour groups.

6Muna and colca teas are popular among tourists.

7Souvenir stalls adjacent to the service station at Patahuasi, with surreal rock formations in the backdrop.

8After Patahuasi, we ascended further up to the mountainous highlands.

9 Large area of the highlands is saturated with water. [Scanned positive slide]

10These mountain wetlands are home to unique highland animals such as Andean flamingos.

11While most of us were well aware of the dizziness and headache from the high altitude soon after leaving Patahuasi, our bus quietly arrived at the highest pass of our entire journey, Patapampa at 4900m above sea level.

13At Patapampa, we were greeted by several souvenir vendors…

12…as well as a few llamas dressed with funny looking decorations, and uncounted piles of stone cairns as roadside shrines to the Inca goddess Pachamama.

14Before reaching Chivay, we stopped at a lookout where several vendors were selling souvenirs and knitwear.

1From the lookout, the village of Chivay lies at the river valley further down the road. [Scanned positive slide]

 

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru