Thursday, September 15, 2011

Colca 4: Condors

Of course, part of the attraction of the Colca and of getting to Cabanaconde is that of rising early in the morning for the opportunity to sight some Andean condors.

The Andean condor is is the largest flying bird in the world.  Adult males can attain a weight of 33 lbs, and a wingspan of 10.5 ft, which also gives them the largest wingspan of any land-based bird.

About 15 min outside of Cabanaconde, on the road to Chivay, is Cruz del Condor, a prominence that is not only located across from a prime condor roosting area, but is itself a stopping point for condors as they warm up in the early morning sun, waiting for the thermal updrafts that will carry them up and down the valley, even as far as the coast.

That morning -the 30th of July- we were able to view almost a dozen condors -mostly juveniles, thus still lacking the white ruff that characterizes the adults- circling on the canyon's thermal updrafts, and wending their way down the valley.

By going down a bit further from the overlook platform than I did, Liz, Jacho, and Rafa were able to get a closer look at some condors -the two in the video above- as they stopped at a boulder below the platform. Liz took the pictures below with her phone.

It was pretty neat seeing the condors, specially having the chance to see so many of them at one time.  As a child of 10 I had seen a number of them as they flew over the beaches of Paracas (where I was camping with my Boy Scout troop) looking for dead sea lions, but it was always one at a time, and only one or two per afternoon.  Over the years Liz and I have also been lucky enough to spot one here and there in our travels - in Huarochiri (in the mountains of Lima), on the road from Huaraz, or high above us, in the skies over Ollantaytambo, so to see a bunch of them at one time, and interacting with each other, in the wild was a true privilege.