Did you know that Andean condors are among the most giant birds in the world that can fly? Did you know that, although its name says they are from the Andes, they can also be found in coastal areas? These are only some interesting facts about this massive animal seen in Peru and other South American countries. 

Are you interested in learning more about this bird – and maybe even getting to see it in its habitat? If so, here we tell you all you need to know!

How does a condor look like?

Andean condors are massive birds and are considered among the biggest flying birds in the world. They have a huge 10-foot wingspan and can weigh up to 33 pounds. 

The Andean condor displays sexual dimorphism. This is when animals of the same species have different physical characteristics based on their sex. Both males and females are big blackbirds, but males have a white collar and a crest, while female Andean condors don’t.

How can they fly?

Andean Condor flying in the Colca Canyon, Arequipa

You might be asking yourself how a giant bird such as the Andean condor can fly? Well, biologists asked themselves the exact same question! With some research, they discovered that these birds live in windy areas in the Andean highlands. This is because they use wind currents to glide with little effort. 

One of the best places to spot condors in Peru is the Colca Canyon. The sun heats the bottom of this deep canyon, and the hot air rises, generating strong currents that allow the condors to fly. 

Some condors can also be seen in deserts with strong thermal air currents or coastal areas where marine breezes help them fly. 

What do they eat?

The Andean condor has an essential ecological role as a scavenger. It diminishes the risk of disease propagation of rotting dead animals by contributing to its decomposition. They are part of the Cathartidae, which comes from the Greek word kathartes which means “he who cleans.”

Condors, like other vultures, keep their eyes peeled for the carrion that makes up most of their diet. They usually live in the highlands, where they eat the carcasses of big animals such as guanacos, llamas, or vicunas. Nevertheless, they sometimes fly to the coasts to feed on dead sea lions or their placentas. 

Where can I find them?

Currently, it is not that easy to spot Andean condors. Fortunately, there are some places in Peru where it is possible to watch them from a short (but responsible) distance:

#1 Colca Canyon (Arequipa region): 

Andean Condor flying in the Colca Canyon, Arequipa

It is one of the deepest canyons globally. Besides offering breathtaking views, it is one of the favorite places of tourists wanting to see a flying Andean condor from a very short distance. If you are one of them, the “Cruz del Condor” viewpoint is for you!

#2 Apurimac canyon (Apurimac and Cusco regions): 

Also, among the deepest canyon in the world, it is the perfect habitat for the Andean condor. The Chonta viewpoint is located 3 hours by car plus 1 hour by foot from Cusco city. 

#3 Chipao district (Ayacucho region): 

Andean condor flying over the Sondondo Valley, Ayacucho

Not so known by tourists, the Chipao district is an excellent place to see condors while avoiding the crowds. There are not many hotels around, so the best option is to spend the night at a homestay. We love community-based tourism experiences!

In October, the Andean condors fly from the highlands to the Pacific coast. This is the best option for people wanting to see this magnificent bird without suffering from altitude sickness. The two best places to see condors on the coast are:

#4 Illescas peninsula (Piura region): 

Andean Condor in Northern Peru

This remote natural protected area located in northern Peru is a paradise for nature lovers. Some tourists reported having watched more than 30 condors at the same time. Besides the possibility of spotting condors, this peninsula has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

#5 San Fernando National Reserve (Ica region): 

This national reserve is located close to the very well-known Paracas. Therefore, it is the perfect option for tourists interested in visiting both areas!

Now, where are you heading next time you travel to Peru? Don’t miss out these spots!

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