Biking and hiking in the Colca Canyon

The alarm went off at 5.45am and I nestled deeper into my very comfortable and very cosy bed. It was with great reluctance that I prised myself out of it 20 minutes later. After an excellent breakfast, we left at 7.30am (it was supposed to have been 7am but too many people weren’t ready) to go to the Cruz del Condor, where we were, hopefully, going to see condors.

Pinchollo in the early morning
Pinchollo in the early morning

When we arrived, 5 were perched on a rock ledge, admiring the scenery and thinking about flying. We were there for about an hour, during which time, many more tourists arrived. The condors waited for the crowds and then put on a spectacular gliding display right in front of us. At one point, there must have been about 12 or them. It was unbelievable!

The next bit of excitement for the day was a downhill cycle ride to the village of Cabanaconde. This was exhilarating as there was only one short uphill part and the rest was all down. Some people went extremely fast, one French girl gave up on the uphill slope and continued in the van, and I admired the view but got some good speed as well.

There was surprisingly little traffic, given the amount of tour vans that were parked at the condor lookout. I even had a condor fly over my head at one point. I think all of us would have liked to have turned around and done it again once we had reached the bottom. However, our hike in the Colca Canyon beckoned.

After a short stop for a snack and drinks, we were off through the village, which is very attractive. However, it is like going back in time, with sheep and cows being herded through the streets and even an alpaca grazing outside a shop.

Local restaurant in Cabanaconde
Local restaurant in Cabanaconde
The path down to Sangalle oasis
The path down to Sangalle oasis

The temperature had risen considerably since we left the lodge this morning. We walked a little way through the countryside before reaching the edge of the canyon and the downhill track. The Sangalle Oasis, our destination, was just visible 1,200 metres below. The path was extremely steep and consisted of dry, loose stones and rocks, so I was very cautious. We all walked at our own pace but I ended up spending a lot of time with the Dutch people, a couple called Jaspar and Lavinia, and a man named Maurice. The German, Daniel, managed to reach the bottom in 2 hours but for the rest of us, it was closer to 3 1/2. One French couple somehow managed to take a wrong turn and walked a lot further and for the other young French couple it was their first ever hike. They certainly chose a hard one to start with!

I was certainly glad to reach the bottom. The walk had rekindled memories of a long ago trek down the Grand Canyon in very similar temperatures and I was very pleased that I didn’t have to do the return route this evening, as I had had to do with the Grand Canyon.

The Oasis consisted of 5 lodges with ours, apparently, being the best. Luxury it was not and a strong contrast to last night. However, the setting was superb. Whilst it has only relatively recently been developed for tourists, the Oasis itself has been used by local people for centuries.

The first stop after arrival was a very refreshing dip in the pool. This was followed by a late lunch which comprised chicken, cooked with garlic and onions in Coca Cola! Hard to believe and I will have to try it if I ever do any cooking again.

The remainder of the afternoon was free and I spent it relaxing in my room and then going down to the river, where I sat for quite a while. It was very peaceful apart from the roar of the water!

Before dinner, everyone adjourned to the bar for beer but we were all, not surprisingly, very tired and didn’t have the bonfire we had intended to have after eating.

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