Colca Canyon

As if we hadn't had enough hiking after the Inca Trail, we decided to add one last trek to our trip. The Colca Canyon is located in southern Peru and is the second deepest canyon in the world.

The depth at its deepest point is 13,650 feet (4,160 meters), making it more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.

Our first stop of the day was a condor viewpoint. Although it was packed with tourists, we were able to spot several of the gigantic birds circling above in the air.

I now have more pictures of condors than I know what to do with...

SO CROWDED!

As you can tell from this closeup, condors are quite unattractive birds.

As you can tell from this closeup, condors are quite unattractive birds.

After a few more scenic stops, we started the hike into the canyon below. With stepped terraces and small villages in the distance, the scenery was breathtaking.

Our first day consisted of 5 hours of walking downhill. After so many steep stairs during the Inca Trail, I was thrilled not to be walking uphill. But let me tell you, downhill can be just as hard at times. My hiking boots, which had never given me a problem until this point, started giving me blisters and my knees began to shake. 

After walking downhill for five hours, we reached our destination – a beautiful oasis in the valley. 

The word oasis brings to my mind lush vegetation, waterfalls and brightly colored flowers in the midst of an otherwise barren setting. I was just as I had imagined – thatched roof bungalow and all.

Our humble abode for the night

Our humble abode for the night

There was even a volleyball net for those who hadn't had enough physical activity for the day... which turned out to be nobody.

After all that downhill hiking the first day, I was wishing for some uphill – any uphill – and that is exactly what I got the next morning.

A steep, never-ending uphill back out of the canyon.

I guess the grass is always greener, right?

More photos of the Colca Canyon:

We made it to the top!!!

We made it to the top!!!

After hiking out of the canyon on day two, we soothed our muscles in some beautiful natural hot springs.

After hiking out of the canyon on day two, we soothed our muscles in some beautiful natural hot springs.

How many llamas can you spot? Correct answer: NONE! These are all alpacas!

How many llamas can you spot? Correct answer: NONE! These are all alpacas!

Please excuse my horrendous hair, but there is an important lesson to be learned here, folks... Never pick a prickly pear. I repeat, never pick a prickly pear! Sure, the may not look prickly, but as the name implies, you will be stuck with hundreds of hair-thin prickles and have to pick them out with a tweezers like I did. Not fun at all.