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High Altitude Grazing – Near Colca Canyon, Peru


Photo of the Day – High Altitude Grazing – Near Colca Canyon, Peru

Dead asleep in the back row of a jam-packed, nasty smelling van is where I found myself moments before this paradise flashed before me. Our Colca Canyon hike was over and we were driving through the frigid cold Andes air several thousand meters above where we slept the previous night.

The van pulled over to the side of the road and I was instantly awoken when the keys turned left and cut the engine. Sleepy eyed and shivering, I stepped down out of the van and smiled at the beautiful scene in front of me. There was a herd of Alpaca enjoying the fresh greenery growing across the Andean hillside.

High Altitude Grazing - Near Colca Canyon, Peru

15,000 Foot High Textile Market – Colca Canyon, Peru


Photo of the Day – 15,000 Foot High Textile Market – Colca Canyon, Peru

On our way to the trailhead for a Colca Canyon hike that we joined in Peru, our van pulled over to the side of the chilly and narrow road near a group of Andean women selling an array of locally stitched textiles. The women’s native dress and warm smiles normally would have caught my eye, but the dramatic canyon background sitting right behind them was nothing short of amazing.

Shortly after snapping this picture we descended by foot over 1,000 meters to the bottom of the canyon and spent the night starring up at the massive canyon walls. If you have a little bit of extra time before or after visiting Machu Picchu, hiking Colca Canyon is a scenic and rewarding side trip that both Will and I enjoyed.

15,000 Foot Textile Market - Colca Canyon, Peru

Wild Peruvian Alpaca – Near Colca Canyon, Peru


Photo of the Day – Wild Peruvian Alpaca – Near Colca Canyon, Peru

The title of this post is a little deceiving. Alpaca have been domesticated for thousands of years in the South American Andes Mountains and there are no known Alpaca living in the wild today. So why label this guy a “Wild” Peruvian Alpaca? I caught him grazing in the “wild” as I drove by in a van after completing an exhausting hike out of the deep Colca Canyon in Southern Peru.

I’m sure a lot of people reading this own at least one clothing item that contains Alpaca fleece. Have you ever made the connection that you were wearing this little guy?

Wild Peruvian Alpaca, Near Colca Canyon, Peru

Flight of the Condor in Colca Canyon – Colca Canyon, Peru


Photo of the Day – Flight of the Condor in Colca Canyon – Colca Canyon, Peru

With a wingspan of 10.5 feet (3.2m) the Andean Condor is hard to miss. And it is certainly not something you’ll want to miss if you venture to Peru. We spotted this Condor flying high over Colca Canyon. Unfortunately, one of the more memorable things about this trip was taking a small van with a few too many people crammed in through the back roads of Peru making 15,000 foot passes. The van was freezing cold and insanely uncomfortable. I remember being curled up in the fetal position to try and contain all warmth, but also feeling every single rock the van hit. Our driver seemed to be receiving points for hitting rocks, making for a painful trip. I suppose this only helped to make the sight of the Condors all the better!

We photographed this Condor with the Nikon 18-200mm lens all the way out at 200mm (f5.6, ISO 100). The Condors were of course in mid flight and although they are massive, they were still quite far away making for a tricky shot. What we did have going in our favor was decent lighting which helped the relatively weak 200mm shot come out with some pretty good details. I love the finger-like tips of the Condors wings in this photo.

There are also California Condors in the US. Has anyone else seen either the Andean or California Condor? What did you think?

Flight of the Condor in Colca Canyon - Colca Canyon, Peru
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