Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Into the Colca Valley

Leaving Chivay (3630m) we drove west on a dirt road following the rim of the Colca Canyon fissure. As we entered the upper reaches of the Colca Valley terraced fields started to appear, initially on the lower slopes, but soon they towered above us high up the valley walls. These manmade terraced fields stacked up like gigantic staircases on the steep canyon slopes. Pre-dating the Inca civilisation by nearly 1000 years, they are a masterstroke of early agricultural engineering and still in use to this day.

They are still tended to by local farmers who grow crops such as potatoes, barley, beans and quinoa. This region produces 32 varieties of corn, 12 varieties of beans and 54 of quinoa - I didn't even know there were so many varieties of corn!

As the valley narrowed and the mountain slopes steepened the road deteriorated and the first condors appeared. Gliding effortlessly on the late afternoon thermals they soared high above the valley floor looking for carrion and easy prey.

At the end of the road we reached Cabanaconde, a small village with a pretty plaza and church. The majority of houses were stone or mud brick construction, the narrow cobbled streets held few cars and the locals were traditionally dressed. There were only a few places to stay and no more than a handful of tourists in town. The place felt like it had hardly changed in a millennium.

Fields, terraces, bare hillsides and distant snow capped volcanoes - simply breathtaking

A good section of road with tarmac - wahoo!

A timeless landscape - unchanged in a millennia

The ancient terrace systems include their own aqueduct and drainage systems and have been functioning for nearly 2000 years

The condor is a very symbolic bird in this area, to the Inca's it represented heaven, the highest tier of the afterlife

The upper reaches of the Colca river

Cabanaconde - the village at the end of the Universe

The best breakfast view in town

The kids are out in force this morning marching with the band celebrating something...we never did find out what exactly!

Its a sleepy kind of place

But the locals seem friendly!

Its mainly the women who keep the traditional dress and seem to do most of the carrying too

Along with the mules and donkeys

A few of the locals

And a traditional Peruvian pizza for dinner!

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