Tuesday, April 3, 2012
We awaken early for this morning’s excursion. We walk to the town center to await our ride for the day, a 15 seat bus. While in the town center, a group of children dressed in native garb comes out and music starts playing and they dance for us. Quite the fun sight and as you can guess, a tip jar is passed around the groups of spectators! We drop some coins in and our day has begun!
Another bus picks us up today. We head out around 6 AM for a ride up to Condor Pass and we make a 10 minute stop in Maca for some locals that hope we’ll spend a few dollars. We get some fun photos with a little girl and her Alpaca and a lady that has a trained Condor!
We make it to the top of Condor Pass at 7 AM, the time the condors start soaring to warm themselves for the day! Absolutely amazing! Literally hundreds of Condors fly in and out of the canyon! This the deepest canyon on earth at a depth of 4160 meters or 13,640 feet deep! We are standing at about 11,000 feet but the mountains across the canyon are several thousand feet above us. For the next two hours, the magnificent Condors fly and our cameras are singing! Colorful vendors sell their wares to the crowd of spectators as this is one of Peru’s highlights for tourists. Elee buys a hat which gives us permission to photograph them. For any of you that would like to hear some Peruvian Pipe Music, here is a link to “El Condor Pasa”, a Peruvian tune supposedly written for this place, and with a little research, it turns out that Simon and Garfunkel did a version of this in 1970! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_gSydN_BYM The Simon and Garfunkel version here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pey29CLID3I
Standing here at 11,000 feet, watching the largest flying birds on earth soar gracefully back and forth is a sight I wish all of you could witness! Even baby Condors learning to fly are here. The canyon is ablaze with Wild Lupin larger than any I’ve ever seen. Some blossoms are more than a foot tall! Our bus group gathers for a group photo before traveling on as the Condors have settled down after warming themselves.
We travel back down to a place called “Chivay” and stop for some refreshment, to use the restrooms and a lunch stop.
The bus travels on for several hours, climbing through the Peruvian Highlands and a brief stop at “Mirador de Los Andes”, back at 16,000 feet and this time we don’t over exert ourselves. Supposedly, several volcanos can be seen from here but we only get a glimpse of part of one, “Volcan Hualca Hualca” (pronounced ‘walka, walka) because a rain storm has taken over the area. Back on the bus and another hour or so and we descend down to 13,000 feet and arrive in “Puno” on the shores of Lake Titicaca (yes, a real place!), the highest ‘navigable’ lake on earth! It is dark now, so photos will be few until morning.
My stomach is feeling a bit queasy, probably from something I ate and I recognize the signs early as possible food poisoning. So Elee orders normal food for dinner but I order dry toast and 2 bananas. The waitress brings me a banana milkshake and I cringe for the absolute last thing I want is a non pasteurized milk product. We finally get her to understand that all I want is the bananas and she brings them.
We have an early day scheduled for tomorrow and my stomach is on edge so we turn in for some sleep. See you all tomorrow!