Hiking through the villages of the far side of Colca Canyon. Leaving the Canyon on mules.

Travelogue Peru 2006
Colca Canyon – Part 3

Peru, Colca Canyon: Prickly Pears
Prickly Pears
Peru, Colca Canyon: Irrigation cannals
The ancient irrigation cannals which lead the water to the terraces. If you just move two stones the water will not flow down, as seen here, but continue other fields.

After the alpaca incidence we had a very nice lunch with fresh caught trout from the river. I liked the oasis but I wanted to continue and see more of this beautiful valley. Because Ingrid had problems with her knees from the steep decline I went off alone and hiked through a couple of villages on the other side of the canyon. I had a nice encounter with a farmer and his family who asked me to use my binoculars to look for one of his mules which had run away. He obviously had never used binoculars before and I had to explain to him how to use it. He and his family spent several minutes searching the surrounding hills or more likely enjoying the binoculars. This is another advantage of binoculars: you can always pleasure the people you meet by letting them look at a bird or the moon or whatever. Other things I remember particularly: self picked prickly pears (fruits of a specific cactus); they are very tasty and have nasty spikes, some of them almost invisible; one has to learn to remove them otherwise you won’t enjoy the fruits. And passing the ancient irrigation cannels. Today some of them have been replaced by concrete cannels. It was amazing seeing this system in action, especially as the part I saw was surrounded by dreamlike vegetation. And there was the most unstable bridge I ever crossed, hardly more than two logs covered by some twigs.

A few hours later Ingrid followed me, riding on a mule. We spent the night in another bungalow in one of the still-without-electricity villages owned by a very friendly family. I will remember the pancakes we had for breakfast early in the morning: According to the chef they were made from corn flour, eggs, tomatoes and onions. I assume that there was only little of the last two ingredients in the mixture and that they were cut into very fine peaces as we did not notice them. But it was very tasty, very good with strawberry jam.

Peru, Colca Canyon: mule riding without saddle
If you rent a mule ask if they have a proper saddle. If not your trip might be quite uncomfortable.
Peru, Colca Canyon: Sunset
Sunset in the Colca Canyon

Peru, Colca Canyon: Mule Riding
Ascent from the canyon on a mule … here it looks as if my mule did not want to start but it carried me all the way without breaks.

After the breakfast we had the luxury variant of mountain hiking: We only had to walk down to a bridge, where we could mount two mules which carried us for 1,000 meters in altitude. Amazing and a bit embarrassing: Our two guides, one of the oasis hotel managers and one daughter of the pancake-family followed us on foot. We made the way in only two and a half hours; if Ingrid and I had had to walk it would have taken us much longer. Unfortunately Ingrid and the Oasis-Manager had a little argument when we arrived: Out of the blue he claimed that the agreed price was only for the mule and that Ingrid had to pay him extra. But he didn’t get away with it. It is just a shame that this was an unpleasant end of a wonderful trip.

We returned from Colco Canyon in the normal public bus and arrived in Arequipa in the afternoon.

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© Volker Umpfenbach

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