"Being together is like catching a sunbeam; each new memory we make reflects light hinting there is more to see and know."

July 20, 2016

Week 74 ~ Flying High

Flying high with the Assistant Area Auditors in Arequipa and enjoying their spirit and company for the day.  Arequipa is surrounded by volcanoes. Misti is the prominent volcano overlooking the city at 19,000 feet, and in the photo on the left is one which is still smoking. Pretty hot! We planned an extra day to travel to Colca Canyon to see the condors fly which was a three hour trip outside Arequipa, climbing to an elevation of 16,000 feet. We felt light headed and a little sick, indeed. We also saw herds of llamas, Guanacos, and Vicunas at the high elevation.

Flying high as we enjoyed free time at the Colca Lodge for just one night. Such a shame we couldn't stay longer because it was so pleasant. The Lodge included a wonderful restaurant, large gardens, horseback riding, and a little farm with alpacas, llamas, pigs and sheep. It was located right on the  Colca River and the front desk had fishing poles to use, so that's exactly what Joe did. The fish were small and biting, but the hook was too big. There were four large hot thermal pools. Right after dinner, we hopped into one and didn't get out for an hour. It was so relaxing. AND we had a full moon which we could actually see. The weather was very cool but the climate is very dry this time of year. There was no TV or internet but, actually, after a full day we didn't even mind.

Colca Canyon
And then, flying high with the finale of the trip. The Canyon itself was amazing and we weren't disappointed in the views of the valley and then to see the condors in flight. We walked for nearly a kilometer along the canyon ridge which was really peaceful and we could see the condors in the distance. Then it was quite a long, steep climb up to the viewpoint. I’m glad we did the walk because by the time we hiked up to the look-out point, there were so many people scurrying around to get the best view and taking pictures. We had a much better experience than just stopping at a crowded look-out point. 

The condors don’t fly per se and they don't often flap their wings. They mostly use the thermals and wind to get the lift on their giant wings. The Andean condors are massive birds, among the largest in the world that can fly. They weigh up to 33 pounds and have an enormous wing span of 10 feet to help keep them aloft. These birds can live up to 100 years but they only mate and lay one egg every 2-3 years. The Condors put on quite a show for us, the young brown ones learning to fly and staying close to the nest, and the larger black and white adult condors flying high and then up close to our ledge. 

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