Colca Canyon, Peru

There is nothing like hopping on a bus at 3am to brighten your mood but it was for a good cause.  The Colca Canyons beckoned. Located in Southern Peru, near Arequipa, we embraced the 5.5 hour tourist bus trip which includes a few interesting stops along the way, such as breakfast.

From the Mirador de Achachihua, Cabanconde

The Colca Canyon has been inhabited since pre-Incan times. Much of the land has been terraced and used for farming, which continues into the present day. It is also a habitat for the endangered Andean Condor, a bird with a wingspan reaching over 3m (12ft).

We chose to head to Cabanaconde, the last town down the canyon. It's a charming place that is only beginning to see the effects of tourism. The road was being paved while we were there and there were many signs of growth. On the return walk to town around sunset we ran across a local farmer with some feed strapped to the back of a donkey, we managed to ask a few questions about the area in our appalling Spanish but we enjoyed the walk back to town. He darted off when a neighbours flock of sheep started stalking his donkey and eating the leaves dangling in front of them.

A walk down to Mirador de Achachihua ('mirador' is spanish for 'lookout point') was rewarded by a sighting of a passing Andean Condor. Exciting but it was far away and it's hard to get a sense of scale when the backdrop is a huge canyon that already defies the senses.