Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Arequipa, The Colca Canyon and The Nazca Lines

When we arrived in Arequipa we booked straight onto a three day hike into the Colca Canyon (Thanks to Alex), as if we hadn´t hiked enough on the Inca Trail! The Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world and it is also the home to the Andean Condor. We went with a couple from Belgium and our guide Marcel who had grown up in one of the villages in the canyon. The first day we walked into the canyon which was all downhill so fairly painless and gave us a chance to see three condors which were massive (wing spans of about 3metres). That night we stayed at the family home of our guide in a small adobe hut with a thatched roof and we kept warm around a camp fire.The second day we walked through the canyon visiting two villages which are totally cut off as they currently have no roads to them. The villages had primary schools but, when they reach secondary school age, the children have to walk up and out of the canyon to a school in the town at the top. Essentially our trek was Marcel´s old walk to school!!Marcel was also able to point out which trees and shrubs they used as various medicines (apparently wild pepper is very good for arthritic pain) and he gave us cactus fruit, miniature pears and some weird banana type things to try.At the end of the second days walk we stayed in a place called the Oasis which had a swimming pool and lots of little huts.Unfortunately as we arrived the heavens opened so our swimming was limited to a quick dip and then we kept ourselves amused playing cards, football and Al tried his hand at a bit of trout fishing. On the final day, we got up at 5am and started the steep climb of 1200 metres back up and out of the Canyon. It took two and a half hours and several chocolate biscuits but we made it! At the top we caught a bus to Chivay where we stopped for lunch and saw lots of dancing in the streets and celebrations as it was a religious festival. Al putting his rabies jab to the test....

Back in Arequipa we decided it was about time we gave our walking boots a rest and we checked into Arequipa´s only five star hotel for a couple of nights of luxury (Thanks to Auntie Sue, Uncle Mark and family). The hotel was amazing and it was great to spend two days lying by a swimming pool and relaxing. We also made sure we got our moneys worth with the buffet breakfast going up a record six times to fill our plates!
From Arequipa we caught an overnight bus to Nazca where we went to the Aerodrome and took an overflight (Thanks to Auntie Pauline). There are hundreds of figures and shapes in the Nazca desert believed to have been created between 200BC and 700AD and they are best viewed from the air. We set off in a small propeller plane which held five of us and a disturbingly young pilot.During the flight Al saw lines such as the monkey, the hummingbird, the astronaut and the spider. Unfortunately, due to the bumpy ride and the constant swerving from side to side, Jo just saw the bottom of the sick bag! We decided not to stay in Nazca as the town is pretty ropey and, following our flight, we jumped straight on a bus to the capital city, Lima.

Lots of love
Jo and Al x x

The faces of two people who are going to check into a five star hotel after having just climbed out of a 1200 metre canyon.....

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