Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the USA at 4160 metres deep and thought to be the deepest Canyon in the world. It’s not too far from Arequipa and one of the destinations, one can go from Arequipa. Colca Valley has been known by different names: The Lost Valley of the Incas, The Valley of Wonders, The Valley of Fire and The Territory of the Condor.
On the way to Colca Canyon, we pass through a few small villages, where the people are still living the traditional way as they used to live in the Inca and pre-Inca days. Each village still wear their traditional dresses and each has a particular style to know which village they are from. One particularity in the dresses is that the hats indicate whether a person is single or not. E.g in this one village, one flower only one side of the hat means you are single and two flowers, mean you are married.
We also visited the Toro Muerto cemetery of the Wari Indians. The cemetry is built high up in the cliffs and usually the bodies were put in fetal positions. We could still see some remains and skeletons. One particularity about the skeletons were the elongated skull formations. The guide told us that people in these days used to modify the shape of their head – the more elongated head, the more closeness to God.
Many parts of the Colca canyon are habitable, with pre-Colombian terraced fields still supporting agriculture. All along the Canyons, the cliffs had been terraced, with irrigation lines and used extensively for agriculture. Also, another use of the cliffs is as storage, in fact, the temperatures are so cold up there, that they have dug holes inside the cliff to keep their food for reserve for winter times.
The highlight of the tour though was the stop at the Cruz del Condor to wait for the Condors to wake up and have a view at their magnificence. We got at the Cruz del Condor quite early and there were already many other tourists waiting. We stayed there for about 1 1/2 hour waiting for the Condors to show up, as apparently that’s their feeding grounds. The wait paid off and we got to see 4 majestic condors rise up of the Canyon and fly over us at very close range. These birds are just magnificent – their wingspan can be over 3 metres long !! I have never seen such a great creature. In Hinduism, Vishnu’s vehicle is suppose to be Garuda – a mythical bird. I bet in this part of the world, it’d have been a Condor.