Cruising with Condors

El Condor!

Sunday broke clear and warm, so we anticipated good thermals and birding at today’s highlight, Cruz del Condor.  Our lodge is closest to the site, so we arrive before the hordes and get to see the juvenile vultures test their abilities… the large, lazy, unflappable mature condors rise later with the warming air.  It’s pleasant and quiet in the AM sun, and our perch affords good views of the kid condors nesting below and flying past.

IMG_2815Next the crew has set up our mountain bikes – all well maintained – and their route has us climbing 1 kilometer before meeting and descending 10km more.  At 12,000′ the short climb is a good way to test riders’ abilities and stamina.  Max and Ben are of course at the front of the pack, in spit of Ben’s asthma.  The path is on a well paved, empty highway, but at the summit I trail off road for a bit.  These Andes are rocky and the trail riding is tricky.  But the long warm descent is glorious: clean, uncrowded and view-packed.  It all ends in IMG_2819another Colca ghost town – Cabanaconde.  The boys and I arrive ahead of the pack so have time to toodle about the cobblestone square and attempt trials tricks.

On our return we stop again at Cruz del Condor and find it much more crowded with both tourists and condors… Sue’s pictures tell the story.

IMG_4805Continuing on we swing by the Lodge to pick up our bags then retrace our route up the canyon to lunch, where Sue and the boys mix  a local indigena and her young alpaca.  Then it’s off to a modestly developed hot spring facility on the edge of the Colca River; 5 streamside tubs drain into each other and cool along the way.  We work these woks until we’re cooking, then I jump in the river’s edge for a swedish cool-down and do it again.  This goes on for an hour, and sets us up well for a long, boring ride across the Andean altiplano.IMG_2958

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