Do you know exactly what a condor is? Could you draw a condor? No? Well, maybe I’m just especially ignorant, but I’m not sure I’d ever really heard of them before this week, or at least, not in any detail. Turns out that in Peru, condors are A BIG DEAL. In fact, they are the 4th biggest tourist attraction (who could have known?), along with Macchu Picchu (Inca capital), Lake Titicaca (highest navigable lake in the world) and the Nazca lines (as below). With this knowledge, we decided that we had better check out what all the fuss was about…
7 (rather cramped) hours in a bus after leaving Arequipa, we arrived in the Colca Canyon, home of the condors. To be honest, the trip would have been worth it just to see the canyon, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in America, but covered with lush grass instead of being bare rock, and populated by a series of small villages where the women still wear colourful traditional dress as part of their everyday life, as they have done for many years. We stayed in a village called Cabanaconde, at the very deepest point of the canyon, a village without Internet, or even much phone signal, and rather chilly.
We had many conversations with locals, other travellers, and the hostel owner over how likely it was that we would sight a condor the following morning, and where and what place would be the best to try and do this. It was only at supper that we realised that the whole expedition was just a little silly, as neither of us were particularly interested in birds or had ever had a burning desire to see a condor, and knew very little about them. In fact the only fact about condors that we could agree upon was that we thought that they were a type of bird.
Regardless, we got up at 5.30 the next morning and duly did see some condors, and very nice they were too – huge black birds with white necks which flew so close to you that you could almost touch them. We got so excited to see the first one wafting on the morning thermals, after so much anticipation, that we named it Gavin. Not an experience I was expecting to have in Peru but definitely one that I’m glad I didn’t miss. And, as I said, the canyon was a beaut in itself.
(spot which photo I stole from the internet!)