We spent last weekend doing a three day trek into Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world. We saw condors, visited small villages, slept in rooms with dirt floors, swam at the oasis at the bottom of the canyon and rode mules to get back up to the top. It was a fun, sweaty, dusty and exhausting weekend.
And, to add to the overall fun of the weekend, our new friends James and Briony (who seem to be stalking us around South America… we’ve been in Quito, Latacunga, Cusco and Arequipa at the same time) and Nicola joined us for the trek. They are WAY more trek-y and fit than Andy and I are and for the most part we only ever saw their backs as they hiked way out in front of us. It was nice to have them there anyway.
We started our trek at the insane hour of 3am on Friday. The entrance to the canyon was a five hour drive from our hostel in Arequipa. The tour guides handed out neck pillows and fleece blankets and we all slept for most of the drive, thank goodness. 3am is a mean time of day.
Our first two days were spent mostly hiking downhill. This sounds easier than it was, mostly due to the fact that I am a huge klutz. I trip a lot. I trip going across the street, I trip on carpet, I trip over my own feet. I constantly have bruises on my knees and shins from random trips and bumps. This does not bode well for walking on precarious paths at the edge of mountains. Thankfully, I managed to stay upright for the entire downward journey, but my success was at the expense of speed. I was pretty much constantly hiking at the very back of the pack, slowly picking my way amongst slick rocks and sliding gravel. My amazing husband stayed right with me the whole time, in case I needed to be caught. He’s used to my slips and trips.
We hiked for about 4 hours on the first day to reach a little village where we were going to spend the night. We stayed in very simple rooms with dirt floors and shared bathrooms. I showered as soon as we arrived, then I joined Andy and James for a very cold beer. We sat with our feet propped up, watching the sun set over the canyon we’d spent all day hiking into and felt like masters of the universe. A simple meal of sweet potatoes, avocados and rice and a bit of traditional flute playing by our guide rounded out a very satisfying evening.
The next day was an easy day. We hiked a fairly simple path for a few hours down all the way to the bottom of the canyon where natural waters from the snow-capped volcanoes above form an oasis of clean, temperate water. After two days of being gritty and dirty, the pools at the bottom felt like heaven. Our group was the first to arrive at the oasis that day, so we promptly took over the pool with the very sophisticated “Throw the Ball in the Pool” game. Good times.
On our final day, we had a choice of whether to climb out of the canyon on our own, or to rent mules to carry us to the top. I was torn. On one hand, the mule would be easier and sounded like fun. On the other hand, I felt like I was capable of climbing out and would enjoy the challenge. However, I also knew that I would climb very slowly and I was afraid of holding up our whole group. So, I opted for a mule and Andy joined me. It was actually a really great choice! The mules were genius and we could enjoy the scenery and the amazing views on our ride up. It was a lovely end to our journey!