June 07, 2010

Peru: Colca Canyon Patapampa

After having flown from Juliaca into Arequipa the night before, we set out early morning on our Colca Canyon adventure. The Colca Canyon is 124 miles long and over 11,000 feet deep. We passed fascinating flora and fauna (note nursing alpaca).

The fertile valley was filled with terraced farming.

And we admired volcanoes
But my big thrill was a personal altitude record. The sign said 4,910 meters which is a bit over 16,000 feet (Cusco is a mere 11,200 feet and El Tatio Geyser Field is 13,800 feet above mean sea level) 
We continued on for lunch at La Casa de Mama Yacchi in the sleepy town of Corporaque
After lunch our guide decided to take us on a long, steep hike.  

Our reward was the sight of candies placed in the mouths of pre-inca skulls.  Note the elongated shape of the skulls, a sign of beauty. 

At the end of our hike, we were ready to join these burros seeking shade.

We travelled back along the canyon to our hotel. This was the most rustic and quiet of all the places we stayed. We amused ourselves by watching craftsmen embroider various useful souvenirs like eyeglass cases and water bottle holders. We also attended the planetarium / observatory lecture but the astronomer spoke so quickly I am not really sure what planets and stars I saw. I still took pleasure in the plentiful constellations in a night sky with almost zero artificial light.

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