Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Puno/Arequipa (Día 5)

Day 5 = Colca Canyon tour day!

We woke up at 2:05 a.m. and we were on a bus at 2:50 a.m.  It was cold outside, but luckily the tour company gave us blankets on the bus and I tried to sleep most of the way.  We stopped at 5:30 a.m. to get a closer look at the mountains and Volcán Misti.  We also saw some vicuñas, which is a relative to alpacas and llamas, but the vicuña is known as the princess of the Andes.  When we stopped to check out the view, it was -2 degrees Celsius out (28.4 degrees Fahrenheit).  I was reluctant to get out in the cold, but I did anyway so that I could snap some pictures.
Some mountain peaks.  One of them is
Mount Ampato where Juanita was found.
Sun rising
Our next stop was at 6:15 a.m.  We went to some hot springs, which were so nice since it was still really cold outside, but I felt fine after getting in the 38 degree Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) hot spring.  Next we stopped for breakfast, which really just consisted of bread, tea, and coffee, but in my opinion, that was a perfect breakfast!  Once we were on the road again, we stopped several times (too many) before making it to the Colca Canyon.  We stopped at a town called Maca, where I got to hold an Andean Eagle.  We also stopped along the road several times in order to look at the landscape with all the terraces.

Me with the Andean Eagle

Mirador de Antahailque:  The Colca River
We also went through a 400 meter tunnel that was in the middle of the mountain and we finally made it to the Colca Canyon.  The main place to view the canyon is from a place called Cruz del Condor, but we didn't stop there.  We actually stopped before that point and took a 45ish minute hike to the Cruz del Condor.  We also saw the place where Ciro was found.  Okay, so I know none of you know who Ciro is, but I'm going to tell you.  Ciro was a Peruvian man who went hiking with his girlfriend in Colca Canyon.  Well, they got lost and his girlfriend was found 10 days later alive, however, Ciro was found dead 6 months later.  Now, what's the reason I'm telling you this?  I'm telling you this because it was huge news in Peru.  There has been a huge controversy on whether it was an accident or whether it was murder by his girlfriend.  Well, it was found that the girlfriend was not guilty, but obviously some people still disagree.  It was funny though because before we left on this trip everybody was telling us not to end up like Ciro.  Tonisha, Sheila, and I decided that it was Mark that should have been worried since he was the only guy. :)
The area where they found Ciro's body.  They were clearly somewhere
they weren't supposed to be because you couldn't see any clear trails on that mountain.
Colca Canyon
Okay, now for the next controversial issue.  Is Colca Canyon the deepest canyon in the world?  Our guide told us yet, but I feel like he is supposed to say that, but everything that I have read pretty much says that it was, but now it's not, so pretty much it's arguable!  Recently, the Cotahuasi Canyon, which is actually close by the Colca Canyon, was named the deepest canyon because it is supposedly 335 meters deeper than Colca.  There's also another "canyon" that is deeper than Cotahuasi, but some scientist somewhere decided that it was a gorge not a canyon.  So pretty much Colca Canyon is either the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd deepest canyon in the world.  Moral of the story:  Colca Canyon is a really deep canyon.  Also, I do know that Colca is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, which is cool.  Although Colca was impressive, I'm really interested to see the Grand Canyon now, because, from pictures, the Grand Canyon looks prettier!
Sheila, Tonisha, Mark, and I at Colca Canyon
Okay, I'm done blabbering now, well, maybe not, but you get the point.  We finally left the canyon after awhile, but before leaving we saw a condor fly by, hence the name, Cruz del Condor.  On the way home, we stopped at an Arequipeño buffet, which was really good, but it was kind of a tourist trap because obviously the tour company would take was to an expensive buffet place.  At least it was good though, right?  Right!

We finally headed back to Lima and we drove through the National Reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca, where we saw a bunch of alpacas, llamas, and vicuñas. See...

Once we got back to Lima, we were finally able to go inside the Catedral of Arequipa.  The outside is beautiful so I was excited to finally see the inside.

Our next stops included a stroll in the Regional Library and a peek into the Iglesia de San Francisco because they were in the middle of mass.  Then, we went shopping to the markets, where I picked up a few Christmas presents. :)  By that time, we were all really hungry because it had been a long day so after a long time of debating on where to go for dinner, we chose a pizza place and we all got the lasagna special.  It was pretty good, but the best part was our waitress!  She was SO nice!  We gave her a huge tip and I'm pretty sure she was shocked by what we gave her.  We then hit up some more markets, got some ice cream (of course), and headed back to the hostel.  I worked on Tonisha and I's presentations that we had to do and we watched I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry in Spanish.  Then, it was off to bed to get ready for our last day in Arequipa! :)

Bueñas noches!  Happy Holidays!

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