During my travel in Peru, I had the chance to go out to the canyon of the Colca river. A family of Andean Condors resides in that area
The Andean Condor is among the largest birds in the world. They only have to let Albatrosses and Pelicans ahead in the ranking. With a wingspan that goes over 3 meter (10 feet), the Andean Condor is not a small animal. The condor family that lives high over the Colca river, is pushed up by thermic winds to the level of the canyon. Most days, this happens between 8 and 10 in the morning. They return to their nests in the afternoon, around 3pm. But of course, the thermic winds have no fixed schedule, and the Andean Condor might not be visible at all on some days.
The Colca River has created in the Andes one of the deepest canyons in the world. The best viewing spot to see the Andean condor near the Colca Canyon is located between the towns of Chivay and Cabanaconde. It’s knowns as Cruz Del Condor. 45 minutes by car from Chivay, 15 minutes from Cabanaconde.
I overheard some guides at Cruz Del Condor tell their clients here that the Colca Canyon is the deepest in the world. That’s not true. The deepest canyon is a couple of hundred kilometers from the Colca. It’s the Cotahuasi Canyon of the Cotahuasi river. But, with over 3 kilometer (2 miles) deep, both the Colca Canyon and the Cotahuasi Canyon are way deeper than the Grand Canyon.
You can do a 1 day tour from Arequipa. Don’t underestimate this: you’ll have to leave at 3am in Arequipa, and drive trough the ice cold natural area, to make it by 8am at Cruz Del Condor. By 10am, you’ll be back in the bus on your way to Arequipa, were you’ll arrive in the afternoon. If the weather is wet, cloudy, or if the heat comes a bit later, you might not see even 1 Andean condors.
That’s why I collaborated with Wilmar Diaz in creating a route that would allow me to spend some time in the natural reserve, and have three chances of seeing the condors. We also went to an other viewing point near Cabanaconde, to see the condors return to their nest.
If you organize this by yourself, you can stay in Chivay or in Cabanaconde. These are small towns on high locations. Don’t expect tons of comfort, and be prepared for very, very cold nights.
I’ve seen some people climbing on rocks with selfie sticks. Not just endangering themselves (I’m not against self-elected Darwin Award Winners) but also the fragile environment they are privileged to witness. When you make it here, I hope you show enough respect for the environment, so the generations after us can enjoy the sight if these majestic birds.