Next stop on my Peruvian journey: Arequipa and the southern desert stretching down to Chile! This adventure started with el cañon del Colca, ie. Colca Canyon, famous for being the second-deepest canyon in the world. Colca Canyon is about 4000m deep (twice as deep as the Grand Canyon!) and made particularly impressive by the 6000m mountains towering over it, giving the impression that it's even deeper. It's also home and primary playground for the majestic condor (a vulture-like bird), those of which are often seen gliding over the canyon at 'la cruz del cóndor' (the condor's cross).
To make matters even more exciting, it was also the International Day of Tourism, and so the local municipalidad had asked the local women to welcome all the tourists, dressed traditionally in their beautifully-decorated attire and offering local specialties. They were all so friendly, and even more pleasant when they realised I could speak Spanish, and one even let me take a photo with her (which apparently is a rarity, as they hate cameras and consider it rude if you snap pictures without asking)! We tried 'chicha', an alcoholic beer-like drink made from corn and served warm, as well as little fried pockets of corn, which were delicious! Whilst at the canyon, we were also lucky to see heaps of condors, with one even flying overhead in the background of a few photos!
I'd definitely recommend going to see the canyon if ever in South America, unfortunately a lot of people overlook it and only leave the time to see Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca whilst in Peru. It's only a few hours' drive away from Arequipa (Peru's second largest city) and it's well worth the trip! For more information, check this page out here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colca_Canyon