A Visit to Colca Canyon

In April of this past year Colca Canyon became the subject of a huge controversy in Peruvian news. A student named Ciro Castillo Rojo went missing for 6 months before being found dead on the side of the canyon. A lot of hubbub surrounded his disappearance and death because his girlfriend was found alive 9 days after their group went missing. People blamed her for Ciro’s death and it was on the news for months. Today, with forensic evidence it is understood that Ciro slipped and fell and was killed by the fall, not by his girlfriend.  If you read Spanish check out this article from El Comercio that came out on March 18th. If you don’t read Spanish, not to worry, there is a video that accompanies it with a reenactment.

As someone who went to Colca Canyon 5 months before, I was quite interested in the story at the time it was unfolding. However, after a while it got repetitive and until Ciro was found everything was hear say. I couldn’t let it ruin my thoughts on the canyon. It is always sad to see someone found dead after being declared missing for such a long time (6 months) but the canyon is a dangerous place. It’s twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States and nature doesn’t care who it takes lives from, it’s just a part of the cycle. I didn’t do the Colca Canyon trek but I did get to experience the profoundness of the beautiful and perilous canyon in November of 2010.

It was quite a trip finding a tour that wasn’t ridiculously expensive. My friends and I thought about going on the trek but we only had a few days so we decided to go on the traditional tour by car. Our trip only cost S./65 but it didn’t include any meals. I think it was a decent price. I highly recommend going to multiple tour agencies before saying yes to one.  You don’t get a good idea for how much a tour should cost until you have gone to at least 3 agencies. I think we went to about 10 before deciding on one.

The car trip to Colca Canyon takes you through the countryside of Arequipa including the national reserve where vicuñas are protected. It was awesome seeing so many of the deer like creatures. They are super cute and apparently, their fur is the most luxurious and expensive of all the cameloids, which include guanacos, llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas.

After passing the reserve we stopped at a llama and alpaca enclosure and heard their cries like babies since they were all cooped up together in their own guano. Llama and alpaca herders make a decent chunk of change from their animals’ guano. I think it’s something between 150-200 soles a kilo. Not bad! We continued on and made our way over a 15,000 foot pass. There wasn’t much to see but we did see a chinchilla! They are not a common sight! When we made it to Chivay the group had time to relax in the hot springs of La Calera. It was a great way to end the day. There was a zip line for those interested as well.

The second day of the trip we got up nice and early and made our way to the canyon. It was a gorgeous day and while the lookout point was filled with visitors, I was happy that a few condors decided to fly off of their perches and grace us with their presence. The condor is considered the animal of the spirit world according to Incan cosmology and it is easy to understand why. They are giant majestic beings that are beautiful to watch as they swoop around the canyon. They are the main reason 160,000 plus visitors visit the canyon every year. You get a feeling you are in the presence of something greater than yourself. I am sure the condors helped take Ciro to the spirit world.

Amy Brown

My name is Amy Brown and I have been living in Cusco Peru since August 2010. I taught English and I am now teaching violin. I love going on adventures and I play in a two bands here in Cusco. I graduated from Denison University in Ohio in 2009 majoring in Spanish and Communication.

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