We begin our drive into the Colca Canyon. The guide warned everyone to take the elevation pills and we would be stopping at a small stop to drink some coca leaf tea. I was pretty worried so I drank two just to be safe and bought every damn thing in the store that had coca leaves – from cookies to candy to leaves themselves. We began our climb into the mountains on the tour bus. The views were just desolate land and a road that seemed like it never ended. I took some shots from the front of the bus with the dramatic sky and the surprisingly fairly well kept roads. We kept winding our way through the mountain. The sky began to dramatically change and the temperature began to quickly fall. I was used to the 70+ in Lima I now had to be ready for 30 degree F. With Llamas and bushels of grass covering the entire plane it seemed like we were in the wild west but where horses or buffalo would roam in the states – instead there were llama everywhere just wandering. I was a little surprised thinking if this were the US these animals would be turning a profit for some company or simply be food for someone for dinner. Yet here they were roaming with no worries. At one point we stopped and I got fairly close to the animals just to take a shot and run back onto the bus in the Caylloma Province.
Our altitude journey had reached its peak at roughly 4900-meter mark according to my GPS. I had never been at such altitude and at first didn’t feel any affects – grants I was chewing on leaves the whole time. We stopped at an area that was covered by mini pyramids made of small rocks. According to our guide it was good luck and I quickly rushed out of the bus and began running towards a small pond/lake to check it out.
As I ran I began to feel very tired and my breathing had substantially risen even though it had only been minutes and I was not doing much. I made my small little pyramid – photographed it and decided to run back. After about 5 steps I realized that if I continued to run I would be laying in the rocks for a pretty long time before I could catch my breath. I slowed down and crept back towards the bus to regain my breathing. The top or the peak of this mountain is roughly the same height as Mont Blanc, one of Europe’s highest peaks. We began our descent to a town called Chivay.
As we continued further down hill the grass seemed to spring out of nowhere and began to cover every inch of my view out the window. The views were simply breathtaking. Land that felt like it was not robbed of its beauty – not bothered – just left the way it should be. We first stopped in a natural spring bathing area near Rio Colca. After which we continued our descent into Chivay where we would be staying the night in a fairly large lodge.
It seemed like we were the only group of people for miles. We settled into our rooms and came back into the lobby to share stories and talk to one another and really get a sense of who was on this trip. Seemed like roughly 80% of our group was composed of Aussies who I had never known get over a month of vacation! While in the US we get 1-2 weeks max – sad. We ate some pretty good food and settled into our rooms for the night yet my night was not over!
Two hours into the night I wake up with heavy breathing not able to understand what was going on. I didn’t know if I was having a heart attack or who knows what. I had no idea that we were sleeping at roughly 3500-meter altitude. I began feeling light headed and quickly rushed to the small cozy lobby area trying to find someone to get me an oxygen tank. A gentleman came out and brought a tank to my room and after about 20-30 min it seemed like I was back to fairly normal and went back to bed.
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