A Photo Essay
The best way to see condors is to leave Cabanaconde at 06:30 am, get off the Arequipa-bound bus at Cruz del Condor after a 30 minutes ride and catch the next bus that passes there at around 09:45 am. There are three reasons why leaving so early: first you can only spot condors early morning or late afternoon, second the light is better in the morning and third because the Mirador called Cruz del Condor is packed with groups of tourists as early as 08:30 or latest 09:00 am.
When we left early in the morning, we were surprised how packed the bus was. There were a few tourists but the majority was local women with huge bundles, who also got off at Cruz del Condor. Well, they were all vendors selling anything that can be made of wool or Alpaca or any kind of food a tourist who had no breakfast might wish.
The Mirador Cruz del Condor is in itself a beautiful place, with the Canyon dropping down more than 1.100 meters. By the time we arrived, we were only about 8 people and it was truly a great feeling to witness these huge birds gliding effortlessly through the Canyon.
The climax was when four condors landed on a rock a few meters away and started teasing each other. We were so amazed and busy taking photos and videos that we only noticed after a while that bus after bus were arriving spewing out large groups of tourists. By 09:00 o´clock this place was a zoo, people shouting, calling over their friends and family to point out a condor, others did not even seem to bother watching the birds and were chatting about this and that. Many immediately stormed to the vendors bargaining over Alpaca sweaters or other knit-ware.
So we retreated to a food stall for a Mate Coca, a tea with Coca leaves and our newest culinary discovery, a roll filled with soft cheese and avocados, delicious! By 09:30 o’clock the show was over, the tour busses had left, the condors vanished and the vendors were packing their goods. Unfortunately many of the vendors also climbed into the 09:45 o´clock bus to Arequipa. The bus was simply cramped and therefore extremely warm and dusty, since many people opened the windows …
Luckily we had seats because we had bought a ticket to Arequipa the day before and only interrupted the journey at Cruz del Condor. The 30 km trip to Chivay was tedious because the local women would get off at any given location and then collect their stuff from the luggage compartment below, so it took us more than 2 hours to arrive in Chivay. From there it was a quick 3.5 non-stop ride to Arequipa, where we took a super long, hot shower at our favorite Hotel Tambo Viejo and enjoyed the next day doing nothing in the garden of the hotel, reading in the sun, checking our eMails and of course sorting the hundreds of photos we had taken.