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After squeezing in all the last minute errands (shopping for souvenirs mainly) in Bolivia we left our little apartment mid week, travelling just a few hours to Copacabana. We arrived in the midst of the small town preparing to party- it was the build up to the biggest festival for the year. The accommodation we had eyed off in the guide book (perched high on the mountain side on the edge of the lake, with a jacuzi!) was full, but the lovely German owner happened to own the place next door also, and as it so happened, the suite room was free. We happily settled into our spectacular room, complete with a trap door entry, and sun-room overlooking Lake Titicaca. We had a lovely afternoon and evening eating trout on the beach, wandering the town, then relaxing in the hammock, and enjoying the view from our room.

We had a late start to the morning, catching the mid-day boat to Isla del Sol. After arriving at the southern end of the Island we walked past the clutter of tourist hostals and restaurants where most people spend the night, continuing a few hours (at about 4100m) on a ridge path straight down the centre of the island. The scenery was quite barren but there were lovely views of the snow-capped mountains that we had hiked near Sorata. The Island itself was dry and with small villages hiding in a few of the coves on the waters edge, and sheep herds scatted over the land.

We found a suitably beautiful spot to camp for the night, with scenic views in all directions. We had been told about the fantastic light show to be seen at sun set, and were not disappointed. The colour slowly grew as the sun faded, and gradually lit up every portion of our panoramic view. It was the most stunning sunset either of us had seen as much for it longevity as the vivid colours – just gorgeous. Finally the sky faded and we drew ourselves away to cook delicious camp pasta, complete with a classy box of wine.

In the morning light we walked the short distance to some ruins at the northern end of the Island, explored for awhile, then walked down to take the boat back to the main land.

The town was now in full festival mode. There were plenty of Peruvians in town to celebrate the ‘Feast of the Virgin’, and lots of Peruvian food on the streets. The streets were packed with activity, and we had to push and shove our way through the crowds, loaded with our bags to get to our overnight bus.

The next morning we awoke to a new country, and to the beautiful city of Arequipa, not unlike Cusco in charm and wealth of well preserved Spanish architecture, but without being drenched in the tourist trade. Adam had an interview exam to sit for a job with the ICC, so after a brief rest raced off to find a reliable internet connection. After the exam we explored the city, wandering the cobbled streets, checked out the monumental churches, and had a superb lunch at a seafood garden restaurant to celebrate getting to Peru. Spicy cerviche, and a rich seafood strew, accompanied of course by a few Arequipenas – the local brew.

Apart from Arequipa being one of the prettiest cities in Peru, it is fairly close to the Colca canyon. This is famous for being the second deepest canyon in the world (the deepest is also in Peru), and for the Condors that nest there. We looked into the tours being offered, and although there were a lot of agencies, and they seemed quite cheap, we really just wanted to camp at the canyon, glimpse the famous birds and continue on our way, rather than spend time trekking down into the canyon. This proved to be much harder than expected, as there is limited public transport to the closest towns to the canyon and no public transport to the canyon itself. Once again the tour agencies had the monopoly of the area, making it extremely difficult for independent travellers.  We were also working with limited time, as we had to get to Lima on Monday morning to get my passport application into the Australian consulate.

Anyway, we made it to Chivay, a little town (Adam never thought he would visit again), and managed to convince two guys to share a taxi with us for the hour trip to the canyon. We missed sunset, but were up for a pretty early morning view with the canyon to ourselves before the crowds rolled in around 8.30am. Just as we were about to head off, in search of a lift, at 9am on the dot, the graceful Condors were lifted on the air currents level with the lookout platform, and swooped over our heads a few times, before being raised higher in the sky. They are truly majestic birds, just massive, but so elegant in the air.

We managed to get a lift in the back of a ute to a little town up the valley a little further where we thought we would be able to get a bus to Arequipa, but alas, it was Sunday and as less buses were running, they were full until the next day meaning we would miss our date with the Australian consulate. We finally paid one of the tour companies, and joined the group for the trip back to town, via the hot springs in Chivay, and numerous lookouts and tourists stops. Finally, we managed to get on an overnight bus to Lima

After dumping our stuff in a hostel in the centre of town, we walked the streets of central Lima, which I found pleasant – and surprisingly un-touristy. As we were destined to return to Lima, we headed into the mountains after just one day.

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