Since we had some days to fill with Ross not being able to do much on account of lack of oxygen, I searched for stuff to do within or near to Cusco that wouldn’t involve climbing by human or other power. I stumbled across the Santuario Animales de Ccochahuasi, a private family run wild animal rescue specializing in rehabilitating condors. I am no longer a fan of zoos but thought a rescue sanctuary well okay then. In one review it had mentioned that for North Americans this might be akin to a roadside zoo so I didn’t want to have high expectations.
Well we were very pleasantly surprised. We took a local public bus to get there which was great again for the views of the surrounding areas – mountains, family farms, ruins. I finally saw quinoa growing in all its glorious colours but bummer since we couldn’t get any pics of that. I guess we will just have to grow some of this ourselves. In a previous Cusco post – the Ollanta one see the pics of folks drying the grain alongside the road.
We were lead on a tour with a guide whose English was sufficient. We saw two speckled or aka Andean sun bears;
alpacas, baby and adult llamas of 2 varieties, short and long hair;
indigenous eagles; the puma or mountain lion and the Peruvian wild cat – kinda like a large maincoon without the mane.
All the animals had been either rescued from the wild, injured or with parents having been killed, or removed from abusive owners. Most would never be able to be released into the wild. There was also the hairless Peruvian dog – I really can’t say I find these perros attractive, actually pretty ugly especially when they have some tuffs of fur on their heads and tails but that’s me.
The condors were impressive – such wide wingspans. There were juveniles and adults, the latter having the more striking black and white colours. We were able to watch them fly around us, being led into a separate enclosure for them. Several of these were going to be rehabilitated and released eventually.
They also had a place for rescued monkeys of different sorts who were so absolutely cute, playful but I also think sadly bored (I could spend hours watching these critters);
some different scarlett macaws and parrots in another area,
even one toucan that needed a prosthetic beak to be made to repair the damage.
The facilities were more than adequate for the most part so the animals seemed in good hands. It was the best they could do with no government support, only donations and an entrance fee that was super cheap! I am just glad that such places exist, restoring my faith in humanity. My colleague was going to put them in touch with a similar rescue group she knows in her native country of Costa Rica. It helps knowing you are not doing this sort of work on your own. I am very glad to have visited this place and supported it by picking up myself some great moccasin/slippers since my ones back home were falling apart. I highly recommend this place, conveniently located just outside of Cusco and accessible with public transit.