Feliz año Nuevo (Happy New Year)

Well our 2016 started off active! We were up early to start the walk down the Colca Canyon. There was a direct route we could take straight down or an option of a detour which would hit 3 villages on the way. The only problem with that, was that we had to descend all the way down, cross a bridge over a river onto the other side of the canyon and then head half way back up to visit the villages and then descend again all the way down to the oasis. 
Obviously this was the route we were taking. We set off around 7.30am which in hind site was a little late. We were accompanied by one of the local stray dogs who seemed to know where we were going and showed us the way. 
Right from the start it was a pretty heavy descent, on pretty uneven gravel which had a tendency to slip under your feet. As you can imagine the path wasn’t that wide and it was right on the edge of the canyon. Nothing dangerous but caution was definitely used by us. We were very glad of our newly purchased walking sticks!
The views from the top of the canyon were spectacular. The colours of the rock and the weird formations were fascinating. About half way down the sun crested the canyon and boy did it get hot! 
By this stage out faithful canine guide had abandoned us for a spritely Italian couple who overtook us on the way down, only to be replaced by their faithful canine guide who obviously thought their pace was too quick!
I spent half the time going down worrying about the stupid dog overheating and even shared our precious water rations with him. Much to Tim’s chagrin (though I did see him sneak the dog some water on a later occasion so he was all talk!). 
We were pretty hot and bothered by the time we hit the bridge and were not looking forward to the climb up. At a fork in the road where our destination was clearly signposted to the right, a local lady sitting there proceeded to tell us to go left as it was a harder climb but quicker. At this stage we just wanted some shade and there seemed to be more trees on this route. We were followed by the lady and soon found out why she was sitting there. Her family owned a cafe built off the house and it was on this route. Enterprising lady that she was! Well she was also correct that it was quicker because as were sitting back on their veranda drinking ice cold Inca Colas, the Italian couple trudged by on the street above us. They had taken the correct route and were about half an hour ahead of us.
We set off again along a path that we couldn’t miss and suddenly came to a fork. We were told to take the right even though the map looked like we should have taken the left. We got a little way up and then the path quickly got steep. We were still unsure about the route and began to turn around only to run into the Italian couple who were ahead of us. They had taken the left and it was the wrong way so we turned around and rushed back up the mountain. It was tough. But we made it to the first village and the second was an easy flat walk away so we had done the tough part.
The villages were tiny as you can imagine in such an isolated spot and mules were definitely the popular mode of transport. We kept on going as we could see the oasis below and all the hostels had pools!
Once down we turned into the first hostel where the Italian couple were staying as we got along well with them. Unfortunately the room we were shown to wasn’t much chop at all. Actually it was pretty disgusting with a layer of dust and animal poo on the bed. So we kept going to the hostel that was recommended to us and it was all good. The pools were fed by the natural spring water of the oasis which although cold was pretty damn good after a 20 km walk. S   

The path on the right and the villages on the canyon side which we were going to pass through.  Not far as the condor flies but our route was going to be fairly long
    

The Oasis we were staying in that night
  

The bridges looked in a lot better condition than we had expected

  

The football pitch at the first village we stopped at for our Inca Cola
    

Me with our guide
  

Amazing buildings built in such out of the way places

  

Surveying the scene
  

The view from back down the valley, we had pretty much walked the whole way up and back from this point to where the green of the valley floor disappears  

The oasis, but also tomorrow’s path up the other side
  

Fairly scary paths and bridges

  

Our delux accomodation 
  

Outside was great though

 

Dinner anyone, unfortunately we didn’t get offered Guinea pig 

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