We reluctantly left Cusco and took the bus to Arequipa in southern Peru, a good staging post for venturing to the Colca Canyon.
Arequipa is almost entirely constructed from a unique white stone called sillar. There's plenty of the stone on-hand, and there needs to be, the town regularly has to rebuild itself after earthquakes. The three 6000m volcanoes that surround the town make for a pretty impressive backdrop.
There are two canyons in the Peruvian desert that make the Grand Canyon look like a small divet. Colca is the lesser of the two but spectacular all the same, reaching 3000 metres depth in parts.
One of the real drawcards of the Colca, is to see elusive Andean Condors soaring high on thermal air currents rising up from the canyon. These birds are absolutely massive, with at least three metres between wing tips! You get the impression they could literally pick you up and carry you away (luckily they only eat carrion). Plenty of other wildlife to spot in the desert also, including Andean foxes, vicunas (like a wild alpaca), chinchillas (rabbits with long tails) and the usual mobs of llamas and alpacas.
We ate some alpaca also, not bad, I might confess to some of the more insane alpaca herders at home (that should get them off my case)! Still psyching ourselves up for the guinea pig.