2018AnimalsCitiesLandscapesPeruSouth America

Arequipa and the Colca Canyon – the deepest gorge in the world

From Titicaca Lake we drive on good tracks and roads to Arequipa – the second largest city of Peru, which is located at “only” 2,300 meters altitude not far from the Pacific. As always, we are planning trips to larger cities with Shujaa exactly in advance in order to reduce stress with small streets and heavy traffic: which destination, which streets to take into the city etc. This time, however, the large bypass, which should take us almost directly to our place in the sheltered courtyard of a centrally located hotel, is closed without any notice. We drive through small streets with a lot of traffic and really ruthless Peruvian drivers. The philosophy of the Peruvian motorists seems to be to always advance with a loud honking and afterwards consider how a solution could look like. In our case, of course, the solution for them can only be driving backward until we can pass.

Arequipa itself is a very beautiful city with a great plaza, many colonial buildings and churches and as a highlight the Santa Catalina Monastery. We stroll through the streets and Karin shops. The alpaca wool products are really beautiful. Then we visit the monastery. Founded in 1579 because there was a shortage of convent places (the second oldest daughter of wealthy families was always sent to the monastery at that time), it is still a “city in the city” and accommodated up to 150 nuns and 400 maids in its peak time. The rooms are very large and, for that time, luxurious. There are named streets after Spanish cities and the whole complex is very picturesque with its combination of blue and terracotta colors as well as numerous flowers and plants.

The next day we head to the Colca Canyon northeast of Arequipa: it is considered to be the deepest canyon in the world (due to the height of the surrounding mountains). It also offers very good viewing opportunities for the Andean Condors, with a wing span of up to 3, 30 meters they are the largest prey birds in the world. We are lucky and see various condors only a few meters from our pitch. In the morning we are surprised, because they do not want to rise and sit forever on a rock. Later we find out that they can only fly with the correct thermals, otherwise there is a danger of falling down.

The next day, ambition seizes me and I descend the 1,200 meters into the canyon to a fertile oasis and – after a short break – back up. A sporty challenge! As with the mountain bike downhill along the “death road” near La Paz, it is also fascinating to explore – within the shortest possible time – through the most diverse climatic and vegetation zones and experience. Exhausted but satisfied, I arrive at the top of the canyon after 6 hours.


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