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Travel America Peru Wonders of the Andes - the Colca Canyon

Wonders of the Andes - the Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon, Peru, America, Condor Cross

The Colca Canyon in southern Peru is on record as the deepest canyon in the world - more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon - and yet is little known to the general public. A visit to the canyon is a string of impressive landscapes, unique wildlife and a chunk unmistakably traditional Andean culture. Usually who want to see the Colca Canyon starts his journey in the southern Peruvian city of Arequipa. The fact that the canyon is one of those places where the giant andean condor is still relatively easy can be admired closely.

Away from Arequipa, you can see the way around the volcanoes of the city lying on a plateau to eventually come to a plateau at an altitude of 3800 meters. On the horizon adorn three volcanoes, Misti (5820m), the perfect cone as a sign of Arequipa can act, his little brother the Pichu Pichu (5670m) and its big brother the Chachani (6075m), literally translated Snow Mantle. On the way to the plateau, it can be seen the green oasis of Quisqos, a valley that is fully irrigated by melt water from the ice sheets of the Ampato volcano, and thus stands out brightly against the barren rocky area. Something beyond the end of the valley is a small deserted village situated along the railway line is all the way from Arequipa to Puno, the ghost town Arrieros. Since the construction of a good road, however, the passenger train was abolished and created many of the villages were abandoned and remained as ghost towns left in the desolate plateau. Here and there along the way is the rock called "volcanic clouds" discern, clusters gases from the interior of the Earth were released and very rapid cooling and simultaneous compression by upper layers solidified into multicolored layers of the cliff a colorful gave drawing.

The plateau behind the three volcanoes is at the same part of the national park Salinas y Aguada Blanca, a reserve where steps are taken to protect one of the four South American camelids, the wild vicuna .The vicuna is honored the finest fiber in the world to deliver an exquisite material for the finest fabrics. Precisely because of this fine wool (or hair as they say in the vicuna also used to call), the animal was hunted diligently and therefore against the sixties, the vicuna actually threatened with extinction. A project to protect the vicuña was created and is today the animal back on the rise. Currently there are about 150,000 vicuna in Peru, including a 8000 or so in the Reserve of Salinas y Aguada Blanca. Against the background of the three volcanoes above anyway makes a memorable picture, a lovely start for a discovery of the region.

Somewhat further on the Altiplano there are some tuff formations that are similar to gnome hats. The whole region is mainly formed through volcanic material and compressed volcanic ash, tuff, is usually a favorite working material to wind and water erosion. At various points in this way created the artistic nature scenes, including here at the gnome hats, approximately the height of its separation from the road to Puno and Lake Titicaca.

Melt water from the ice and snow covers the surrounding volcanic flows over a surface of soft volcanic material and works its way through the small channels of wear. The result is a maze of small channels separated as it were pillows on which grass and other vegetation grows low, the melt fields. Of course these places are favorite places for grazing herds of llamas and alpacas that can be often seen in large numbers. These two variants of the domestic South American camelids make it difficult for many highland residents a major source of livelihood. Many families have several or many lamas and/or with particular alpaca wool is used, the capabilities as pack animals, and occasionally meat.

The main town of the Colca Valley is the village of Chivay. An immense basalt structure rises like a gigantic building in the area and kad resort as it were, the valley behind them, a valley where a small stream which leaps ahead to culminate in the Colca River. The basalt columns of three million years old then act as if it were a see-through window at the tender Colca Valley and the name could not be more apt. At this point the height is of about 4300 meters above sea level and several travelers here will also quickly become out of breath. The descent is very fast along the small stream towards the confluence with the Colca River. But once again has the Andes a natural surprise, the Callalli Encantados los Castillos, the enchanted castles Callalli which is re-modeled by the strength of impressive erosion formations in the soft tuff rock.

The enchanted castles are at a junction of two roads. A bit further at the confluence of the little river that is the Colca River. At the confluence Sibayo there is a village, whose inhabitants often is named as "the people of the sea". Behind this lies the story somewhat strange nickname of the 'vertical economies' in the Andes. For centuries the people driving the trade with Andean communities dispersed over the three zones of the Peru currently, coastal or desert (oases), the highlands of the Andes and the tropical lowlands of the Amazon. Each of these zones produces its own products. On the coast they fish, shellfish, salt, cotton and sugarcane, in the highland various root vegetables, cereals and maize, coca leaves in the Amazon region, bananas, oranges, mangoes and other tropical fruits. Through trade across the three regions over the inhabitants of the Andes success differentiates itself with all the necessary variety of products. Therefore, are organizing the highland inhabitants for centuries by the Andean pulling caravans. Llama they migrate from the Andes to the coast and the Andes with the newly acquired products. Thus obtained Sibayo the inhabitants of the reputation that they always have fish on shore or products were for sale and went they were "people of the sea". Their llama caravans were well known and on the central square of the village are even a small picture of a llama laden, their name is as it were. The village itself is also a textbook example of the Andean construction. Many houses are built of loose stones that are cemented together with clay and covered with a roof of grass-Ichu (typical highland plant, a sort of beach grass that only above a height of 3500 m thrives).

Once past Chivay, begins the true spectacle of the deepest canyon in the world to flourish. The first part of the gorge has a U-shape and has an awesome landscape artwork seen on agricultural terraces. Terraces often already been built before the arrival of the Incas and partly still in use. The same applies to the irrigation channels that run anywhere between the terraces and even today irrigate the crops. Further change from the U-shape of the valley in a steep V-shape. Terraces find no place and the landscape is formed by steep cliffs that are infinitely far into the depth of collapse. Above the snow capped peaks and vast emptiness of the granite masses of the Andes. Almost everywhere the astonished visitor looks, he is treated to a 360 degrees panorama. The 100 km long rift in the Tertiary (between 2 and 65 million years ago), when between the volcanoes and Ampato Coropuna (the two highest volcanoes in the region) which was a tectonic break between the Colca River is looking for a way. At its deepest point retrieves the canyon a depth of 3140 meters, more than twice as deep as the famous Grand Canyon . An impressive piece of nature where no one remains unmoved!
To completely clear the canyon to crown, furthermore one of the few places in the Andes where the Andean condor can be seen quite easy, the largest flying bird in the world. With a maximum span (from wingtip to wingtip) of more than three meters, a weight of 12 to 14 kg and a size of nearly 1 meter in a sitting position is an impressive animal. Depending on the weather (since the condor makes use of rising warm air layer it can reach speeds of 200 km per hour and altitudes of over 7000 meters above sea level. Once a year, the condor lays an egg of about 14 cm high and the newborn chick with full brown feathers. Only after the seventh year, the condor gets the typical black and white drawing into the feathers and the white collar that characterizes this giant vulture. Young and adults are therefore easily distinguishable. Something that many visitors used when called Cruz del Condor, a lookout over the canyon where the condor is often seen late. The steep cliffs here provide an excellent protection for the nests of the condors, protection against natural enemies which are the puma and man.
For the attentive visitor to the Colca Canyon also some interesting details in store. Somewhere between Chivay and Cruz del Condor is Choquetico the village where archaeologists a "model" did. It is a bizarre rock where if it were a reflection of the agricultural terraces were carved at that precise point across the valley to see. Archeologists therefore believe that this actually is a model which was based the construction of terraces. There are 25 such mock-stone found along the canyon and it is estimated that originally there must have been about 100.
Not far from Choquetico in the opposite cliff strange to see such openings like small brick walls were. This is about skeletons and remains of tombs where offerings were found, often it in such cavities for storage or colca's "(which of course gave their name to the river and the canyon). They were specially selected high in the mountains because the wind played through it ensured that food better preserved. Several such colca's remains were found back from corn, potatoes, dried meat (charqui) and so on.
A visit to the Colca region is usually rounded off with a way back to Arequipa. A steep climb that takes about an hour drive from Chivay (3600m) very quickly at the highest point of the trek brings Pata Pampa (4910m). This extreme position is surrounded by desolate and barren rocky plains, part of the cordillera and Janca, as it is called ecological zone. The coast itself, costa, runs from 0 to 500 meters, followed by the Yungas areas (from 500 to 2500 meters), Quechua (from 2500 to 3500 meters), Suni (from 3500 to 4100 meters), or Puna plateau (from 4100 up to 4800 meters) and finally the cordillera and Janca (above 4800 meters). From the pass of Pata Pampa, visitors can enjoy a fabulous 360 degree view of a dozen volcanoes in the region. An unforgettable sight in every case! Moreover, as a bonus is an introduction to one of the oldest plants in the world, the Yareta. This at first sight, in fact, genetically mossy plant belongs to the family of the roots and can reach a diameter of more than 3 meters. It grows slowly and steadily as coral and has a woody inside. The plant was therefore long been collected as firewood by local people but is currently protected. On the mossy surface blooms you can find often small yellow or white flowers. Occasionally dropping a sticky resin from the plant Yareta by the local people used as a remedy for rheumatism. The resin is rubbed on the painful area and wrapped with a piece of alpaca fur. Yareta also show a natural altimeter and is only found above 4500 meters (just as Ichu grass that only grows above 3500 meters).