For the most part, our week was relatively quiet. Everyone had Spanish lessons, either in the mornings or the afternoon, depending on skill level, which left half the day to roam free and explore the city of Arequipa. The real height of our trip was the weekend trek the group chose to do, through the Colca Canyon. As we learned, it is one of the largest canyons in the world, several times the size of the Grand Canyon.
We started the trip by waking up at 2:30 in the morning; To make sure everyone could be ready for the 3:30am, 4 hour bus ride to the top of the canyon. One of the highlights of the trip was a stop on the way, at a vista point. It gave us the first view of the canyon as a whole. The views were fantastic, and we saw giant, wild condors. From there we moved onto the actual trek. We met our guide, Remi, who was incredibly experienced in leading these exertions and very knowledgeable about the (slash his) local culture and belief systems in the Peruvian Andes. The first day was mostly downhill stumbling, slipping, and hiking. We went for 4 hours until lunch, and another 2 hours to reach the oasis we were staying at for the night. It was a beautiful area but the group was tired and most of us went to bed relatively soon. The second day was breathtaking- the view of the valley at sunrise was amazing, but breathing while up hiking up hill at altitude also makes breathing challenging. The second day was difficult; we hiked for about 4 hours. But, we ended the experience with thanking the mountains for our safety and visiting some amazing hot springs to ease our tired muscles. In truth, the pictures are the most effective way to describe our experience, it was challenging but the entire group was psyched to take it on.