A condor dive-bombing was the biggest highlight of Rocío and my two amazing October 2016 day trips from Macusani. Other animals in the Carabaya Province of Peru’s Puno Region included flamingos, Andean geese, a native rodent and domestic livestock.
Andean Condor Hunting and Dive-Bombing
Hiking back from Pitumarka to Ccochauma we had just turned the corner after Lake Qañuqota when we witnessed a truly special sight. In the sky an Andean condor, one of the world’s largest flying birds, was repeatedly hovering then flying, hovering then flying, sometimes as a silhouette in the sky, other times against mountains.
The condor hovering in front of a snowy mountain peak
This juvenile bird had brown feathers unlike black adult condors. Andean condors are New World vultures and usually scavenge dead carcases for food. To see it hunt from the sky was a rare experience. In fact, local guide Ulices had never previously seen a condor hunt.
The brown juvenile condor hovering in front of a closer, lower mountain range
After one final hover the condor folded its wings and plunged dramatically head first. Luckily my camera had a 30 times zoom, enabling me to capture this sensational moment.
My footage of the condor hunting and dive-bombing; upon searching, I couldn’t find any similar videos on YouTube
Back at the vehicle, the driver, who wasn’t with us, concurred with Ulices’ opinion that the condor was likely hunting a calf (juvenile cow). Ulices explained that once killed, the condor would pull the calf’s intestines out from from its rear and leave the remaining animal for pumas and wolves.
Our two private day tours were predominantly at elevations between 3,500 to 4,300 metres high. Here we spotted multiple bird species.
A flamingo outside Macusani town
This small bird is perched on a dry-stone wall
An Andean goose between Macusani and Tantamaco; these birds are generally found in pairs around swamps and lakes above 3,000 metres
Birds adjacent the Marca Marca pre-Inca ruins
Near Corani we saw a viscacha. This rodent resembles and is often compared with the rabbit. Some locals hunt viscacha for food.
A viscacha on a rock near Corani in Carabaya Province, southern Peru
Domestic Animals: Camelids, Cattle and Sheep
Herders raise llamas, alpacas, cattle and sheep in the high Andes mountains, housing them in dry-stone corrals at night for protection from the cold and predators such as pumas, wolves and smugglers.
A corral used to hold livestock
Semi-wild cattle blocked our path near the primary Pitumarka archaeological site in Ayapata District
This rock wall has been constructed wide enough for livestock to walk on when transferring between corrals
Two llamas, one with decorated ears, have an amazing view of snowy Andes peaks near Tantamaco
Alpacas near the rock forest in Corani District
Near a river locals slaughtered alpacas and or llamas for their meat and skins.
People dressing butchered alpacas and or llamas in the rain next to a river
Llamas with decorated ears and sheep graze in the high Andes tundra