Two Amazing Day Trips from Macusani, Carabaya Province, Peru

In October 2016 Rocío and I undertook two amazing day tours in the southern Peruvian Andes Mountains as part of our 2016 Interoceanic Highway Trip. We saw stunning scenery, prehistoric history and witnessed something extremely rare: a condor hunting and dive-bombing. From Macusani, guide Ulices and our Hilux driver took us one day to Ayapata District and the next to Corani District.

Video of the condor hunting and dive-bombing near Lake Qañuqota, Ayapata District

Located in Puno Region’s north, Carabaya Province is rarely visited by foreigners. In fact, in ten days, we did not see a single foreign tourist. This is despite being situated between touristic cities Puno, Cusco and Puerto Maldonado. One reason for limited tourism is elevation. Carabaya Province’s capital and largest city, Macusani, lies an inhibiting 4,315 metres high.

With fun couple adjacent Lake Qanuqota, Ayapata District, Carabaya Province, Peru

While hiking to Pitumarka we met a fun couple relaxing against a stone wall seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Ayapata District

The two day tours visited places primarily between 3,500 to 4,300 metres high. At this altitude the climate is harsh with rapidly changing weather systems. While in Corani District the weather went from sunny to hailing and back to sunny in minutes.

Variable weather, Corani District, Carabaya Province, Peru

Is the weather clear, partly cloudy, overcast or rainy?

Next to rock with hail on the ground, Corani District, Carabaya Province, Peru

The driver, guide Ulices and myself standing next to a large rock following a hailstorm

Qañuqota Island from Pitumarka archaeological site, Ayapata District, Carabaya Province, Peru

Viewing Qañuqota Island and Lake Qañuqota from the Pitumarka archaeological site; the island resembles a llama spitting

Pitumarka archaeological site, Ayapata District, Carabaya Province, Peru Bromeliads growing on the Pitumarka pre-Inca ruins, Ayapata District

The Vilcanota and Carabaya mountain ranges traverse Carabaya Province. On these two days we passed multiple glaciers with the highest mountain witnessed probably 5,805 metre Allincapac. We also saw the Quelccaya Ice Cap, the world’s largest tropical glacier. Ulices conducts hikes of Quelccaya and Rocío planned to return to Macusani for this trip, even buying the required gear.

Quelccaya Ice Cap from Corani Province, Carabaya Region, Peru

The Quelccaya Ice Cap

Carabaya Province locals are overwhelmingly indigenous Quechuan, speaking both Quechua and Spanish. Very few people spoke English. Agriculture in the high Andes centres around potato growing and alpaca and llama raising.

Potato fields and rocks, Corani District, Carabaya Province, Peru

Tilled potato fields and rocky terrain in Corani District

Gold has been mined in Carabaya Province since pre-Inca times. The area also has uranium, silver, lead and zinc. Without proper oversight, mining, waste disposal, and infrastructure development could further damage the already fragile ecosystems and historic sites.

Prehistoric rock paintings, Macusani District, Carabaya Province, Peru

Ancient rock paintings in Macusani District on the way to Corani

Woman and dog walk lonely road to Isivilla, Corani District, Carabaya Province, Peru

Woman and dog in bottom right of photo walk the lonely road to Isivilla in Corani District

Following are the blog links from two of my greatest travel days ever:

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