After our day of rest, we got up early, packed up and headed out again. We left at 6:30, ready to make it to Condor Cross in time to catch some of the legendary birds in flight. The drive there was more spectacular than I can describe.
The views of the valley and the volcanos were breathtaking.
We saw a lot of animals being herded along the road. More than once we noticed the women would actually be knitting or crocheting as they herded animals along the way.
The drive up there was long – at least an hour or maybe two. At one point we went through a deep, dark tunnel. It was just wide enough for one car, so we were glad nobody came from the other direction! Olivia thought it was hilarious when our driver turned off the headlights for a moment…we didn’t think it was quite so funny 🙂
We also passed some ancient tombs in the mountains. You could see the tombs jutting out of the mountains like termite nests or something. It reminded me of an Indiana Jones movie…
This was the prettiest view. The valley was so breathtaking!
We got out at the first point and were shocked by the cold wind (I’m not sure why I wasn’t prepared for it).
The wind was worth it though. We finally were able to see the Giant Hummingbird! It measures 17cm long and is the biggest hummingbird in the world. In addition to nectar they also eat insects.
We also spotted a small mammal related to the chinchilla.
Next, we saw a young condor.
They are brown in color the first seven years of life. After that they turn black and white with a distinct white collar around the neck. They live 40-50 years in the wild and up to 70 in captivity. At the next stop we saw the big condors.
What’s really amazing about these birds is they can go 60 days without food! Since they only consume dead meat, food can be scarce. To conserve energy they live high in the cliffs of the valley and soar on the wind currents.
The view was great from here too. Our favorite part of Colca Canyon was this view though on the way back down, though.
The terraces formed almost an amphitheater and below were three lakes and the river.
We were able to stop in the village of Maca on the way back and see inside the Catholic Church.
This church was destroyed by an earthquake in the 90’s and after being visited by Peru’s president, was rebuilt. It was amazing to see the elaborate ornate inside, while outside the church there was just an ordinary dusty town.
The wood was imported from Europe and then painted with gold leaf. Before the Spaniards came, the locals had never seen a mirror. Mirrors were one of the main decorations of this church. They traded gold for the mirrors because they were so amazed to be able to see their reflection.
Outside the church Olivia found a llama.
This time she was a bit braver. She even got a picture with the eagle!
After lunch we headed back out of the canyon and made our way to Puno. The countryside was beautiful.
It was a long day of driving from there. About 8 hours or so. We tried to rest up, because more adventures awaited us in Puno!