Cañon de Colca, Peru – The real king of birds

Condors don’t stick to timetables and travel guides. Nothing is going on at 7 a.m., not more at eight. Just at 8:30 it is warm enough that the first one slowly spirals upwards. The majestic birds need thermal to fly, since with up to 3.2 m wingspan flying needs too much energy. Elegantly gliding nearly without any effort the world’s largest raptor (Californian condor’s “big brother”) is lifted into elevations of 5,000 m and more, looking for carrion. Still the Andean condor is a bird of prey and can strike a sheep or a young cameloid. Therefore it was nearly extinct since the Spanish conquest, but the bird definitely prefers carrion.

The black-grey birds stay for long time with us. Even at noon they spiral into the air. It’s hard to leave, so we only make 60 km in the afternoon. We take the southern exit dirt road, along uncounted terraced fields that are kept in top shape since Inca times. South of Huambo there is an old unused landing strip where we choose to stay overnight. It doesn’t take long when it knocks at the cabin wall. It is the police that is relived that we are harmless tourists. They tell me the area was dangerous, and cattle theft, poaching, robbery, and even murder happened here. It might be a long time that something happened since they let us stay and just tell us to be careful and lock the door well. Now that we know they go on patrol we can sleep with an easy mind. Who also dares to sleep here: S 15°44’40.3’’ W 72°06’46.1’’.

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