Actual Dates: August 31st – September 4th
The overnight bus ride on Peru Hop wiped everyone out the first day in Arequipa. We were able to check into our hostel after breakfast and we had a nice long nap. After resting we took off into town to get something to eat and to book a tour to the Colca Canyon. The Colca Canyon is famous for seeing Andean condors and a great hike in and out of the canyon. We had read it was a huge canyon that rivals the Grand Canyon in the United States so we wanted take the drive to see it for ourselves. We just had to decide what kind of tour we wanted to take to see it. We could take small vehicle tour and stay one night in a town in the canyon and drive out the next day or we could do a hike into the canyon and stay two nights and hike out. When we were doing research we looked really hard at hiking down into the canyon. We knew we could hike down, it was the hiking out that was holding us back. Normally this would have been doable for our crew but when you mix in the high elevation we decided to take a small tour to the canyon, stay the night, and then drive back out the next day. Once we spent some time in Arequipa we were very happy with that decision. The altitude was no joke. We could feel the change in our bodies. We were now only drinking water to stay hydrated and moving very slowly through town. Luckily, our hostel was one block away from the main square. Once we walked around the main square and booked our tour we were off to find some good grub. We ran across a BBQ restaurant and the kids got a kick out of the menu. Their favorite item was RIP Peppa.
|A glimpse at what a hostel was like in Peru. This was a nice hostel. We were all in the same room with 5 twin beds and our own bathroom.|
|Walking towards the main square in Arequipa.|
|The main square was beautiful and lots of people enjoying the nice weather.|
|I love going into foreign grocery stores to see what is different. This was an entire aisle of canned tuna.|
|Sam's new Peruvian hat...little did we know it would not make it out of Peru with us.|
|RIP Peppa! This had us laughing at lunch.|
This trip to South America is amazing and definitely checks some items on our bucket list!! I will tell you all of the cool things we saw and did but there is also some hiccups to traveling with a family of five in South America for 2+ months. As I write these blog posts I will tell you what happened and how we managed it. As you probably have guessed we are now getting ready for our first hiccup on the trip.
We were scheduled to be picked up bright and early at 7:30am for our trip to Colca Canyon the first full day we were in Arequipa. Everyone went to bed early and we were all packed up but Sam woke up in the middle of the night and started to throw up. We knew that this was a big possibility in South America because we would be eating and drinking bacteria our bodies were not use to so we had tried to prepare as much as possible. Back in June when we were in Martinique we got some vaccines for the Amazon and lots of medication for everything else that might happen. We immediately started some medication and hydration. He eventually fell asleep but we knew that it was going to be tough to make the tour to Colca Canyon in a few hours. Emma and Jack woke up and went to breakfast and as soon as they left the room Jack came back and started throwing up too! This sealed the deal for not going on the tour. We were not quite sure what to do. We had already paid in full, the tour guide was on their way to pick us up and the main office was not open yet. Time to take a deep breath….I talked to the tour guide when they arrived and told them we would not be going and Dan walked into town to the office and the company graciously rescheduled our trip for the next day. We spent the day taking care of the boys. They started to perk up at the end of the day but they were still feeling the effects the next day when we left on the tour.
|This is what it looked like when I was trying to sort all of our travel medication before we left Grenada. Our goal was to have relief for any kind of stomach ailment we would come across.|
The tour bus showed up early the next morning and the boys made it to their seats and then crashed for most of the ride into the canyon. The trip into the canyon to the town we were staying at that night would take about 5-6 hours with lots of stops along the way. We would traverse through the Peruvian desert and go over a very high pass in order to reach the canyon. We had an amazing guide with us that coached us on how to combat altitude sickness. The first thing she showed us was how to chew coca leaves and right before we started the big climb over the pass we stopped for some coca herb tea. When we got to the top of the pass she had us inhale fumes from a bottle of 96% rubbing alcohol. This was just basic alcohol you find at the pharmacy. You shake a little in your hands, rub them together, and then inhale three times. We were very happy to learn these tricks because we would need them later in our travels.
|Our first stop just outside of Arequipa. We picked up our coca leaves and bottled water.|
|Time to chew some coca leaves|
|We also enjoyed the coco herb tea.|
|This was the highest point of the pass - 4910m which is about 16,100ft!|
This trip into the canyon was also the moment that Emma had been waiting for since we started our trip. She would finally see llamas and alpacas!! A few of the farmers herd their animals to the side of the road so people can stop and see them. In Peru the farmers mark their animals with colorful yarn in their ears. Unfortunately, the boys were still out for the count on the bus so they missed our stop with the llamas.
|The Sailing Llama found a llama!|
|He may need a deep conditioner and a strong brush!|
Once we made it to the town of Chivey in the canyon we ate an really good Peruvian lunch and dropped our bags off at the hotel. Remember the altitude? Our hotel rooms were on the second floor and we had trouble catching our breath going up one flight of stairs! It was so strange to feel that way. After a little rest our guide took us to some hot springs in the canyon. The pools were nice and we were able to drink some fresh papaya juice, relax in the water and watch the sunset. We have been in Peru for a little over a week and we soon realized that the fruit juices in Peru are amazing. They make them fresh when you order them so they became one of our favorite drinks. I had wondered why Duolingo made me practice saying orange juice in Spanish all of the time and now I know. You order a lot of juice!
Our guide arranged for a dinner show in Chivey that would show us four typical Peruvian dances. We decided to go and it was a great night. The dances were lots of fun to watch and they tried to include some audience members in the dances. Dan was the first one to hit the dance floor and then Emma was selected for the last dance and they dressed her in a typical Peruvian costume for her dance. We also had a birthday to celebrate at dinner. Sam was turning 9 the next day so he was called up to the stage and the band, staff, and guests all sang “Happy Birthday” to him in English and Spanish!
|A traditional Peruvian dance.|
|Dan on the dance floor!!|
|Emma getting ready for her turn!|
|A Peruvian Princess!|
|Emma on the dance floor!|
|This was our tour group. We danced and danced at the end.|
|Time to sing "Happy Birthday" to Sam!|
|A birthday hug from our guide, Irena.|
The next day was our big trip into the part of the canyon that you see the Andean condors. We stopped along the way as we passed through small villages and saw some dancing and churches. Then it came time to walk out to the edge of the canyon to see if we could find the big birds.
|The breakfast at our hostel. Tea or coffee, juice, bread, and jam.|
|When we stopped by one of the villages, the kids couldn't pass up a picture with this cute guy.|
|Local kids performing dances to raise money to go to Machu Picchu with their class.|
Once we got to the lookout for the condors, the walk was s-l-o-w since we were still feeling the effects of the altitude but we did not have to wait long to see these giant birds. Andean condors are one of the largest flying birds in the world when you combine weight and wingspan. The wingspan on these huge vulture birds is about 10ft. When they flew through the canyon they would not even move their wings. They would just glide.
|Time so find some condors!|
|Lots of alpaca clothing for sale. I loved the colors.|
|A view of the farmlands in the canyon. Some still have the Inca terrance structures.|
|Waiting for a condor|
|Kids are ready for the condors so I stop taking pictures of them.|
|The first one we saw was resting.|
|We saw lots of them after we waiting for a little while.|
|We were able to get lots of different angles in flight.|
|They looked black but from another angle they looked brown. This one blends into the mountains.|
On our way out of the canyon we stopped at a lot of vistas for pictures and then stopped at a local drink stand and tried a Colca Canyon fruit called a Sanky. You could get it as just a juice or as a cocktail with pisco. The fruit was similar to a kiwi and the juice was sweet and tart at the same time.
|A view of the Inca terraces in the canyon|
|Another beautiful vista!|
|Remember the first picture on this blog? Sam decided to boycott all picture stops after we saw the condors.|
|At one of our stops we watched some braiding to make bracelets and colorful hanging decorations|
|Time to try to sanky juice|
|Look who decided to get out of the van.....this little guy got Sam out and about.|
|The kids completely ignored trying the juice and played with the owners pet.|
|Last stop in the canyon before heading back to Arequipa.|
We made it back to Arequipa in the evening and went out for a pizza dinner to celebrate Sam’s birthday. The next day we got up early to head to the airport to fly to Cusco and Machu Picchu.
|Bright and early the next morning! Ready for our flight to Cusco.|