See the amazing condors of the Colca Canyon

Okay, so your not a birdwatcher. That’s okay. We still think you’d love this trip.

Arequipa is your initial destination. It’s actually the second largest city in Peru so it is quite a busy place. We spent some time just leisurely walking about and exploring, it has a lot of beautiful architecture. However Arequipa is just your gateway to Chivay- and ultimately the Colca Canyon; home to the majestic condors.

There are numerous companies that offer trips that take you  to see the famous Condors. However, we were on a tight budget and realised we could do the trip ourselves for a fraction of the price ($3) the tour companies were offering ($50). Here is how…

We travelled from Arequipa via public bus, to a place called Chivay, a small town in the Colca Valley. There we spent one night in a hostel called ‘Hostal Estrella de David’. It was very basic and we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but it was somewhere to sleep before our early rise to see the condors.

The next morning, we travelled to the Colca Canyon, again by local bus. Just wait on the main road and flag one down heading in the direction of the canyon (there are plenty). We got on the early morning, 5am, bus with all the vendors who were going to set up their stalls at the canyon. The journey was very interesting and a travel experience in itself!

When we arrived at the canyon we found a few travellers who had actually slept at the famed condor viewing point, Cruz del Cóndor. We don’t recommend this, they must have froze.

Now here is the reason we think this trip is for everyone, not just the birders. The Colca Canyon is beautiful and is one of the deepest canyons in the world. The views were truly spectacular.

After a couple of hours waiting we eventually saw the first Andean Condor appear. The condor has one of the largest wingspans in the bird kingdom. It is a member of the vulture family and is considered a scavenger. The Andean Condor is also considered to be an endangered species so protection is vital to ensure their future.

We would highly recommend going to see these amazing birds and the scenic setting of the Colca Canyon just adds to the experience. Before our return to Arequipa we had time for a soak in the hot springs just outside Chivay, they are definitely worth a visit before your long bus back.

To allow for a bit more flexibility in Chivay we didn’t pre-book our bus tickets back to Arequipa. However, we turned up at the bus station to find out the bus was already full. They would still let us on the bus if we were willing to sit on the aisle floor, plus we’d get a small discount. Of course we took it. In hindsight it probably wasn’t worth the 20 cent saving. If you’re doing this trip book your return ticket in advance.

The journey was back to Arequipa was definitely one to be remembered. Kerry slept for most of the ride resting her head on a Peruvian woman’s leg and we also realised that the box, sat with us in the aisle, was actually full of puppies. At one point we stopped for a good 20 minutes while a lovely Peruvian lady remained intent on bringing her llama on to the already crowded bus. The llama eventually decided it didn’t want to get on and the driver ended up leaving her at the side of the road. The aisle floor was uncomfortable enough without sharing it with an adult llama.

We travelled to Arequipa via sleeper bus from Nazca, staying at Arequipay Backpackers Downtown. From here we travelled on to Cusco, and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Got any questions? Leave a comment below and we’ll be happy to answer. Have a look at the gallery for a taste of what to expect on a trip to see the condors.

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