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14 October 2012 / leggypeggy

Condors come to the party

Andean condor

Andean condor at Colca Canyon

Our trip to Colca Canyon was always going to be a bit of a gamble. While it was touted as being the place where we were most likely to see condors in flight, there was no guarantee.

Soon after we arrived at the canyon, our Peruvian guide, Matthew, said it was actually uncommon to see quite so many birds in the air. He’d even gone times when no birds showed up.

Sixteen of us from the truck took the gamble. It was a three-hour drive from Arequipa to Chivay, where we stayed the night (the hostel had one of the best mattresses I’ve ever slept on in any of my travels).

The next morning we headed to the canyon. That meant breakfast at 6, out the door at 6:30 and at the ‘Cruz del Condor’ viewing point by 8:40. On the way, we visited three villages (more about them in another post). Poor John asked Matthew why we didn’t drive straight to the canyon, and visit the villages on the way back. But Matthew explained that if the condors are going to be airborne near the viewing point, it will be between 8:30 and 9:30.

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

We, along with several hundred other people, enjoyed the privilege of seeing these powerful birds in action.

These condors, known as Andean condors, are found in Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentine and Brazil. They are scavengers and will travel up to 120 miles a day in search of carrion. They prefer large carcasses.

The condors, which are really a variety of vulture, have the largest wingspan (up to 10.5 feet) of any land bird and probably the longest lifespan (100 years).

At 13,650 feet, the Colca Canyon, where we were captivated by these condors, is the world’s deepest canyon (more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon). It certainly isn’t as dramatic looking as the Grand Canyon, but it was still thrilling to be there. It is Peru’s third most visited tourist destination.

Our round trip from Arequipa—including travel (with guide and driver), accommodation and breakfast—was US$60. It helped that we almost filled the van we went in.

Any regrets? Yes, one. I wish I still had a working telephoto lens.

Andean condor

Andean condor at Colca Canyon


Leave a Comment
  1. Renae / Oct 15 2012 7:58 pm

    I remember my trip to colca canyon, we got to see heaps of condors too. Bloody fantastic sight. So glad you are enjoying it.


    • leggypeggy / Oct 15 2012 9:54 pm

      Thanks Renae. I’m wondering — should I be considering the downhill bike ride?


  2. barkinginthedark / Mar 26 2017 3:51 pm

    so majestic. continue…

    Liked by 1 person


  1. On the road from Arequipa to Chivay « Where to next?
  2. Two surprising meals in Chivay « Where to next?
  3. Glimpses of a few Peruvian villages « Where to next?

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