We were picked up early in the morning and after picking up the rest of a van load of people, we headed off to the town of Chivay. We again passed through the nature reserve which has the wild vicuna, but this time with a very knowledgeable guide who was intent on teaching us what she could about vicunas, llamas, and alpacas, as well as the geology and climatology of the region. We stopped several times for pictures, both of the animals and the scenery. The highest point on the road was 4910 meters above sea level. By the time we got there, it was cloudy, misty, windy, and cold and all along the road were these little stone cairns, made as offerings in thanks for having safely traveled that far. Then we started down to the Colca Valley and Chivay. We had lunch there and were taken to our hotels for a siesta. After a couple of hours, we were picked up and taken to the hot springs for a lovely soak with a great view. Then we went to a restaurant with music and folklore dancers.
Musicians in Restaurant
Very interesting and we got to dance to. Apparently, dancing is considered "massaging Pachamama (Mother Earth) and so is a good thing for everyone. We also stopped by the town square to watch the local people celebrate Carnival with singing and dancing around the gift trees until they cut them down. There were three different communities of people each celebrating in their own corner of the square. Gorgeous costumes, but the music left a little to be desired.
Next morning we had to be up and ready to go for 5:50 a.m. We drove farther down the valley past the point it becomes the Colca Canyon. We arrived at the Condor Viewpoint just a few minutes before the first condor came up out of the valley and flew right past me.
We got to see 4 or 5 condors come up out of the canyon. Very exciting, they just glide past with seemingly no effort. Beautiful! Then we drove back down the bumpy road, stopping several times for photos of the views and saw 2 more condors on the way. We had lunch back in Chivay again and then 3 1/2 hours back to Arequipa. Two long days of riding in the van, but with a good guide and the joy of seeing the condors as well as the spectacular scenery made it well worth while.