Day 55: At Altitude (Pt. 2)

Sun. 7th October 2012

Breakfast in Chivay for the localsIt is breakfast at 6am ready for the early start and all I could manage was some coca tea! Mine was not the only pale face at breakfast as the altitude was affecting a number of us. I had not had a good previous 12 hours having almost run out of restaurant at dinner last night to revisit my lunch.

This altitude acclimatisation is not easy on our bodies. We have all tried the coca products to help alleviate it but not always successfully. Even the explanation that cocaine comes from the coca plant does not give us any highs!

Time to leave Chivay, a sleepy little town which was getting ready to start the day of organised activities for all the family to join in. Apparently they all rise early on a Sunday to take part. Certainly the street stalls were already set up and doing a roaring trade. We head out of Chivay on our bus towards Colca Canyon. The views on the way are spectacular and we have a few photo stops as well as wee stops (or target to drink 3 litres of water a day takes its toll!).

Original Inca terracesInitially the sides of the mountains are covered in the original Inca terraces which are still used to grow crops of maize, potatoes and cacti. The terraces end abruptly as the canyon begins and the scenery changes dramatically.

The bus stopped a few kilometres before Cruz del Condor for the promised hike and those who want to walk to the viewpoint left the bus. Sadly Shiry has advised that all those who are not well should not walk, so I stayed on bus. Dave said the walk was only a short stroll and not strenuous even at that altitude, which was disappointing as it had been built up to be more of a hike.

Colca Canyon but no CondorsAfter 1 hours waiting no sign of the Condors so we trooped back on the bus with long faces. Shiry decides we WILL all play charades on the bus back to Chivay. Not easy being bounced around on the rough road and not feeling well but it had to be done. Mine was seven words first “The”, second is mimed here, so you can see the depths we reached!!The *** the ** and the ***

As a few of us are suffering from the altitude we are grateful when we are back in our hotel in Arequipa where we left most of our luggage yesterday. The day had been a long one, over bumpy roads. The feeling was that although the scenery was well worth seeing, it has been a hard couple of days that has taken its toll on people. We were disappointed not to see the condors and can only hope that this has helped us acclimatise to the altitude and that we will reap our reward on the Inca Trail.

Luckily it is a free evening so it was early supper and early to bed ready for our 4:45am alarm call tomorrow. It is all go this travelling lark (but like Dave I do not expect much sympathy!)

P.S. Luckily I am on the mend, so have managed to get my brain in gear and my homework done (writing this!!)

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