One of the most amazing things about condors is that they fly like an engineless airplane. Unless you find them on the ground, you don’t see them flap their wings. They change course by tipping their wings, or an invisible movement of their feathers.
When the wind stops, you can hear the sound of their wings as they cut the air just over our heads.
We had been hiking through the Lenga forest, in the Southern Andes, crossing a few creeks, stopping to drink their clear waters, when we suddenly found ourselves, on the top of a cliff, overlooking the waters of a turquoise colored lake, several hundred meters below us. We could see miles away. As, planned, we were to stop, have some snacks, and prepare our cameras, because, we would probably be inspected, at any time by, not one, but several, Condors, the largest vulture in the world and the second largest wingspan, capable of flying hundreds of miles in one day, using the energy of the sun and wind, not flapping its wings once!
As we sat there, the only noise, the wind, and our own voices, we could see, in the distance, the black silhouettes, always curious, getting closer and closer, until they got close enough to make eye contact with us!
I had been in this very same spot several times before, trekking or horseback riding, and every time I had been “inspected” by as many as 20 condors at a time. I had seen them come from every direction, including from straight below, where they sometimes perch, although safely enough for them that even looking straight down, it was impossible to see them.
This time, our aim was to photograph these wonderful creatures, and I had promised my fellow photographers, that they would have great photo opportunities. Of course, wildlife always has the last word……..Fortunately this time, the Condors were here to save my pride! We spent about 2 hours in their silent company, and started our walk downhill towards a warm shower and a great meal!