Colca Canyon, Peru

Go where you feel most alive

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It all started with a picture of Machu Picchu I saw on internet few years ago. Then last year when I asked myself where would I celebrate my birthday this year, I could only think about Bhutan, Portugal, New York and eventually end up in Peru. I didn’t know how I’d make it to all those places, a girl can dream and life shows me the way.

It’s been over two weeks in Peru and I have no words to describe how incredibly special this place. Things have been absolutely perfect from day one. I’ve met bunch of beautiful people and experienced new things. Peru not only fills me with a deep sense of happiness that I’ve found very few places in the world, but also challenges me, push me out of my comfort zone and brings out the best in me.

Few days ago I signed up for Colca Canyon trekking for 2 days 1 night. I was craving for nature, craving for the peaceful feeling you can only find when you’re by yourself in the mountains. Where the loudest sound you can hear only your footsteps, breath, your thoughts and nature. So when in Arequipa where it’s a must to visit Colca Canyon, I decided to join two days one night tour. I have more than enough time in Peru, so why not going trekking instead of just one day tour? Little did I know, my decision to join Colca Canyon trekking ( with almost zero research, untrained and unprepared ) has changed my life for the better.

Trek the Colca picked me up early morning at 3.30 am and together with other participants we drove to Chivay for quick breakfast. We started trekking maybe around 8 am. My God, Colca Canyon is stunningly gorgeous. The first two hours trekking was honestly okay, but after walking for more than three hours with the heat and altitude attacked me - it seemed nearly impossible to keep going. The thought of giving up came into my mind maybe every few seconds. I can’t do this. I can’t. But also I prayed God would give me strength to keep going. Just five more steps. C’mon Gyscha. Five more steps. I can do this. I thought it was going to be a fun, easy hike but oh boy what was I thinking. But it was a little too late to give up. The only option left for me was to keep going, no matter how slow..even if I need a break every 5 minutes, it’s all about one step at a time.

I learned once again life always has a funny, strange way to humble, uplift, remind and inspire you. Just when I thought I could never make it, well life reminds me it’s totally OK to go slow. Do not see the entire mountain, it’s never about the destination, but enjoy the journey. One step at a time. Do not rush, do not compare yourself with others. Keep going on your own pace. Rest if you have to. Breathe. Enjoy the moment. Take pictures. Count blessings. We are bunch of lucky people who get to visit Colca Canyon. After more than 10 hours trekking, we finally made it to our lodge. With blisters, my toe turned black, hungry, mentally and physically exhausted but my group and I couldn’t be more proud and happier.

Colca Canyon was by far the hardest, the bravest, the craziest, the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I could never forget how scary it was to ride the mule without saddle on the second day. I had to put my hands and holding on tight between the mini rugs that I sat on. Also when the mule hiked up the narrow path and I could see there’s a very thin line between life and death. For a second I had this thought what if something happen and the world would never hear anything from me again? Your mind can be your best asset or your worst enemy.

But then I learned to breathe and enjoy the moment. I learned to trust nature and my strong, fierce mule. I let him to take me up. After 10 minutes, I started to enjoy the ride and even brave enough to take out my handphone from my pocket and capture the moments. I am truly grateful nature took care of me. Provided me with everything I need from good people, beautiful weather, perfect health, strong legs, good stamina. Colca Canyon not only reminds me of how tiny I am and my problems are, but also I am stronger and braver than what I thought.

Would I do this again? Absolutely! With better shoes, better preparation. I am excited to visit Cusco tomorrow and slowly making my way to Machu Picchu.

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