Continuously many tourists are getting lost in Colca Canyon. Stories like that of the Peruvian couple who got lost in Bomboya are common.
Eventhough the visitors are adviced to travel in a safe way,there are many who seem not to be interested in preserving their physical integrity exposing themselves to real dangers.
It is sad to find lost couples on the way asking everybody in a poor spanish which is the right way to a village they don´t know much about. It is ridiculous!
The worst thing is that all of them carry “touristic maps” provided by travel agencies from Arequipa whose drawings seem to were done by a 5 year-old kid. Be sure that with those maps it can be your last trip!
One night I was in Sangalle,now known as Oasis inside Colca Canyon and while we were enjoying our dinner outdoors we could see a light on one of the walls of the canyon. It was the flashlight of a tourist who was descending the Colca Canyon ,who unfortunately took a wrong way and got lost.
Help! Help! –Everybody saw the light signals and heard his voice, but nobody helped.
One of the locals there said: “It happens all the time! We are fed up of this kind of situation!”
“They are told all the time about safe traveling and they don´t understand. When they are in danger they want the people to help them and when they are helped they don´t even thank you.
The reaction of the locals made me taught that sometimes we take decisions and that we are t responsible for our decisions.
Everybody continue with their activities. A phone call was done to the police. Later we were told that the lost tourist had taken a wrong path and fell in a big hole.
The result was a broken arm and a broken head and the feeling of having been abandoned in one of the deepest canyons of the world.
Sometimes the tourists believe that if they get lost they will be rescued. It is better to remember that you are in Southamerica, a place where everything is different. Nobody will look for you except if you have family ties with an authority or a congressman. Like the situation of the Peruvian couple which got lost in Bomboya. Even the army were brought to the place to look for them!
With one of the highest unemployment rates around the world, the people has almost the necessary to survive. There is no budget for rescue teams or helicopters for tourists.If something happens to you inside the canyon, you will be the only affected. Nobody else.
If you are planning to trek from Colca Canyon to Cusco area better buy a life insurance.
The mountains are frequented by bandits which are called “abigeos” whose hobby is to steal animals,cows,bulls, horses and if you are found on the way by these guys be sure that you will end with a bullet on the head.
TIPS FOR SAFETY TREKKING
1.-Buy an organized tour with a professional trekking or mountainclimbing guide.
2.-If you plan to do it by yourself,get at least a local guide from the area.
3.-Find out about the area you are planning to visit. Find out about the local customs too.
4.-Go to the mountain police headquarters (USAM) in Chivay and try to have info about the place you are willing to visit.In Arequipa, you can pay a visit to the touristic police headquarters and find out more about the destinies you are willing to visit in the highlands.
5.-Don´t go alone to the mountains, if you get in trouble nobody will look for you.
6.-Buy a geographical chart of the area. The maps are available in the different bookstores in San Francisco street in Arequipa. Don´t use touristic maps.
7.-Learn some useful basic phrases in spanish and if possible in quechua language. Don´t forget that the people still speak quechua in the Peruvian highlands.
8.-Communicate regularly with your relatives and tell them where you are going.
9.-Take the measures you consider necessary in order to have a successful trip.
10.-Be realistic. If you are not in good condition. Better don´t go. Trekking requires a good physical and mental condition.The altitude sickness doesn´t discriminate.
I hope this article was useful for you. We wouldn´t like to hear that the next lost tourist in Colca Canyon it´s YOU!
The Colca Specialist.