Leah, Eran, Paul and I woke a little late for our 2:00 AM departure time to the Colca Canyon 6 hours up into the Andean mountains settled in behind Arequipa. We got to the bus terminal just after the bus left so we had to wait around for an hour and a half to catch the next bus at 3:30 am… no worries. But damn that was one bumpy ride. Paul and I slept fine on the bus ride despite the constant vibrations and sudden curves… Eran and Leah didnt fair so well. We arrived around 9:30 or 10 am in Cabanaconde, a small town perched up on top of the canyon. Everyone was interested in giving us a tour of the canyon but we were dead set upon doing it ourselves without a guide… it looked straightforward enough, the only problem was to find the start of the trail. Most of the trails are fairly well trodden here, but the only problem is finding the right one, because there are trails everywhere and are usually NOT marked. So we walked outside the city, cooked up some oatmeal for breakfast and found an old man walking out of town and we asked him the way to San Juan down at the bottom of the canyon. Elfoy was his name and he was missing quite a few teeth, making it much harder to understand him, but he basically lead us down the path into the canyon. It was in the middle of the day and the dry air and dead heat really killed us carrying our 17 (or so) kilo backpacks.
After about 3 hours of hiking down, we reached the bottom of the canyon and crossed the bridge across the Colca River. Elfoy owned quite a bit of terreno all around the area and he let us camp on his property for free. We set up camp, exhausted from the hike down and subsequent hike back up to San Juan, just as it began to rain. The rain didnt last long, praise be to Illapa, because we really only had the one two-man tent to split between the four of us and it would have been a really long night if the rain had persisted. As the sun set over the mountains in the distance, the clouds cleared away and the full moon came out to light up the night. We cooked spaghetti for dinner and Paul and I slept under the stars. It was the first sleep in total silence that I can remember since being down here in SA: no airplanes overhead, no loud city streets with car horns flairing, and NO roosters! Simply amazing.
Here is a picture of the hike down into the canyon: Peru-Cabanaconde-ColcaCanyon.jpg