A four-hour horseback ride took us over the Sifon bridge, into the hills of Colca Canyon to discover ancient Collagua tombs and come back through Coporaque village.
Personally I think this is the most interesting and beautiful of the three horseback rides I guided. It is also the longest one and therefore the most expensive one too and I got to go there only twice with the tourists. The last ones was a couple of farmers from Canada, both good riders so we could take good, strong horses on the trip.
Watching the colcas
We started walking through the village, to the Sifon bridge which connects the two sides of the valley on the narrow rocky split. Some horses (and yes, some people too) get a bit nervous while walking on this tiny wooden bridge that resonates the sounds of their hooves stepping on. Looking down, there’s a 100-meter deep drop, ending in a river that’s roaring wild these days, powered by almost a month of rainfall.
Safe again, on the other side of the valley, we could breath out and look back, on the rocky wall of the canyon. That’s where “colcas” can be seen. These mud and stone caves were used for storing crops or seeds.
From the bridge, we started climbing high and steep, up into the hills, at times taking breaks for horses to catch their breath while we enjoyed the views. The trail then continued into the jagged valley, a path of llamas, alpacas and sheep. Ascending a bit more, we copied a steep mountain on its side, having beautiful views all round, for some not necessarily nice when looking down.
Tombs of Collagua
The trail led us further, to the ruins of San Antonio village, at this time only remaining the base stones of its house constructions. We left our horses just there, to take some rest and only the three of us started a one-kilometer ascent higher up, into these mountains, a place where the original inhabitants used to bury their ancestors. Climbing up to 3,800 meters, and trying to catch our breath every once in a while we thought how hard it must have been to carry a dead body up there!
The tombs are located on a mountain, facing the rising sun in the east. The bodies were buried in caves, sheltered by a stone wall. Corpses in each tomb were placed in a basket and in fetal position along with some of their belongings, including clothing and common equipment, some remains of their clothes and basket ropes can still be found on the site. Together with the bones and skulls. We especially admired their well-preserved teeth, not a single one rotten, not a single one with cavity. They must have had a good diet!
After coming back down the mountain, we found our horses patiently waiting for us and we could continue towards the nearby Coporaque village. We passed by cascade fields of corn and other local plants, met a few locals with cows and sheep and soon enough arrived in the main square which we circled around before starting on the main road back towards the Sifon bridge.
It was still quite a long ride but having a wide dirt road to ride on, we could finally check out the power of our horses in a gallop. That made our trip back faster and more fun at the same time. The dusk was slowly falling upon us and the rain, that had been holding on all day, started with a little drizzle. The more reason to motivate our horses to hurry up. At one point we had a little race out there. I didn’t have the fastest horse but she sure performed well to keep up. 🙂
We arrived back, all tired in a good way, it was time for horses to enjoy their dinner and for us to take a seat by the fire at Tradicion Colca, drinking a bottle of beer perhaps.