Saturday, November 17, 2012

Colca Canyon

Oh my gosh. Me and Ignas just came back from one of the most unforgettable experiences ever: a 2-day trek in the Colca Canyon of Peru. Both of us agreed that it felt like one of those things you have to do before you die. Personally, I went through so many emotions trying to get through the actual trek. It was quite a challenge, both physically and mentally. Here are the stats:

On the first day, we hiked a total of 17 kilometers to get to the Oasis at the bottom of the canyon, where we were spending the first night. It took us about 7 hours. On the second day, we climbed all the way back out of the canyon, a 5 kilometer climb with a 1,100 meter elevation gain, in 3 hours.

Needless to say, I have never done anything so physically strenuous in my life and I was THIS close to renting a damn mule to take me up the canyon. On the other hand, the whole way through, my Trojan boyfriend kept commenting, "This isn´t that bad!"

Apart from the trek, the actual canyon gave me a whole new meaning to the word "grand." Colca Canyon is truly grand. It´s huge and the canyon walls are menacing. You can still see traces of how the lava dried.

The most interesting part for me was seeing the villages within the canyon and learning about the people there. They have a bartering system with neighboring villages but by neighboring, I mean that they have to trek out of the canyon while bringing all of their goods, exchange everything, and then trek back home. Each village within the canyon only has about 5 families with 2-3 people each.

While walking through the canyon, I thought to myself that it was like walking on another world (specificially, a Halo ring - excuse the nerdiness). The canyon made me feel so small and I couldn´t believe that people live within the walls of this enormous canyon.

We had lunch at one of the villages and it was the first time we tried alpaca meat. The Oasis was beautiful. It´s so lush at the bottom of the canyon.

We woke up at 4:30am to start our trek out of the canyon this morning. It felt like I was climbing a never-ending staircase made out of loose rocks and gravel. It just kept going and going and it never got easier. Can´t believe I did it!

After the getting out of the canyon and having breakfast, we took a bus around the canyon and the views were absolutely breaktaking. I´m getting butterflies just thinking about it. A signature characteristic of the canyon is the terracing done by the Incas and pre-Incas. The terraces and farms added so much to the scenery. Honestly, the best writer and the best photographer couldn´t do justice to the canyon's greatness.

At the end of the day, we relaxed in the hot springs within the canyon which was perfect after our exhausting trek. Then, we ate a buffet for lunch in Chivay, the capital city in the canyon.

We will definitely add pictures to the blog when we come back. I´m currently writing this from an internet cafe in Arequipa and I could only add a few pictures from my phone. So far, our experience in Peru has been amazing and I can´t wait for what we do next!

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