Cotahuasi – the deepest valley in the world
Cotahuasi is the deepest valley in the world with its 3535 meters. I have seen a lot of incredible nature in Norway, but this is so much crazier. For several hours you can climb the sides of the valley with your car. What is hard to believe is that there are people who live all over these places, and when you think you have reached as far out as people could possibly live they tell you about people that live 8, 9, 10 hours even further away, and that walk for several days to exchange their lama meat for potatoes and fruit.
Today I will tell you about this amazing valley so you have a bit more information in order to understand the wildness and its beauty.
When we planned this trip we where sure that it was necessary to find a guide. Even finding the valley might give us some problems. It is a 10 hour drive with car from Arequipa. You start at 2500 mamsl and go down to 400 mamsl and then back up again to 4700 and down again to the village of Cotahuasi which lays at 2600 mamsl. Puyca, that is a little village high up in the valley, is similar to most villages on the andean plateau (Altiplano) in Peru, but in the other end of the valley you find a warm climate where they grow fruit and rice. The farmers in the highland of the valley have llamas and alpacas, but in the bottom of the valley they have sheep and cows.
One of the volcanoes that serve Cotahuasi with water from its glacier all year long is Coropuna. This is the highest volcano in Peru, and the highest point in the south of Peru. This volcano is really huge, and it’s an incredibly sight. Some years ago I tried to climb it, but since we had to push the car in the altitude of more then 5000 meters, I didn’t have the energy to reach the top.. (at least it is nice to blame it on the car..)
The economy is growing fast in Peru today, and turism and mining are very important in this growth. There are some informal mines in The Cotahuasi Valley, but still no big company has entered. A ten-twelve hour drive to the coast is a long way to transport what you can find, and as long as there are good places to find gold and copper closer to the ocean this valley will live in peace, but in a few years I´m almost sure that you will find a lot of mines in this area too.
Most of the well educated people live in Arequipa, and it´s hard to bring them back to Cotahuasi. We heard several stories that it´s really hard to find engineers too build roads and other buildings which are important for the development in this valley.