How to Peru in 2 weeks – Day #13: Yanque – Mirador de Antahuilque – Maca – Santuario del Condor
The morning fog is deepened hard into the valley, sticking up to the mountains, the river, and the sky. It goes far to the end of the valley, as far as one can see, enveloping the crops, the grass, the rocks. A couple of small clouds are dissipating quietly in distance, while the sun is getting ready for a new day. A sun that is indulging our presence, sending its rays to create mystery and magic. A sun that is teasing my senses, and will haunt my memories forever.
Despite the fact that more than one year has passed over since our trip to Peru, I always find my mind drifting back to Colca Canyon. Even though Machu Picchu is the most popular and visited destination in Peru, a piece of my heart was left along Colca River.
Second morning of our trip found us waiting to be picked up by our guide, early in the morning. The guide was a little bit late due to some complications with a member of our party (she called for a doctor during the night, due to altitude sickness), and we joined the group in Yanque main plaza, where young locals were performing a dance in their traditional costumes.
The church was opened at this time of the morning, and we got inside to take a peek.
We couldn’t stop but staring at The little tongue of fire (Quenchua name of Sabancaya Mountain) before continuing the trip through the towns of Achoma, Maca, and Pincholo on our way to Mirador Cruz del Condor.
The goal was to arrive by 9 am at the spot, as it will become very busy after. It was getting late, anyway we did stop a couple of times to get amazing photos of the morning fog, and the canyon.
Starting as a rivulet from Callalli District of the Caylloma Province, Colca River becomes very famous once it gets to Chivay. Below Chivay, the valley of the river is deepening, and it is known as Colca Valley to the town of Pinchollo. Downstream to Huambo it is known as Colca Canyon, as it’s reaching its greatest depth. The river changes its name to Camana River at some point, before reaching Pacific Ocean.
Starting as a valley, continuing as a canyon, Colca reaches a depth of 3270 metres, making it the second deepest canyon in the world.
Few small villages are hidden at the base of the mountain range.
We also had some stops along the route, where we could admire the terraced fields from, spread along the slopes of the canyon.
Some of them are from Inca times, and most of them are still tended by the locals, who grow different crops such as quinoa, corn, barley, potatoes. It is said that the origin of the Amazon River is found in the Colca Valley, near the snow-capped Mismi Mountain, in Arequipa region.
The Condor Cross viewpoint was fully packed when we arrived,
but luckily, we had enough time to see the flying splendors before they retire for the day, after 10 am.
This is another beautiful spot to see the grandeur of the canyon, that it goes deeper and deeper downstream the river,
and even more amazed when the majestic condors were soaring above the valley.
The condors were always taking us by surprise when they’re appearing from nowhere, and suddenly flying above our heads, making few big circles before disappearing.
They were never flying too long before becoming invisible. Again, and again, we found ourselves looking everywhere, scanning the horizon for new appearances, ready with our cameras to catch a better shot, or rather immersed in the soaring and powerful sensation we can fly along with them above the canyon.
Tip(s) of the day:
- Puno – Colca – Arequipa tour was a 2days guided tour with a night spent in Yanque;
- This is a guided tour, ask as many questions as you can think of, a local guide is the best source to learn about new places;
- Have small change with you, as all facilities along the route are not free;
- Entrance fee to Colca Canyon is 70 soles, paid separately through our guide once we arrived in Chivay on our first day; the tickets received were good for second day as well;
- Other things to do in Colca Canyon: hiking, horse-riding, hot springs, visiting villages along the canyon, visiting/staying with a local family.
- What to do in Yanque: visit the local museum Musei Universidad catolica de Santa Maria
~ visited in April 2019