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Colca Canyon

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Four hours to the north of Arequipa is The Colca, an Inter-Andean valley more than 3400 meters deep and surrounded by Andean plains and snow-capped peaks. That is to say, it is the deepest in the world.

The Colca surpasses the Colorado Canyon in the United States in more than twice its depth. The route to the Canyon goes through the national reserves of Salinas and Aguada Blanca, beautiful territories where camelids and other Andean species live.

The Colca Canyon has become one of the most important tourist places in Arequipa. A two-day tour will take you to Chival, an important city in the valley where the visitor can rest and enjoy the hot springs of La Calera or try a delicious trout (from the river).

Adventure sports lovers find the turbulent rapids of the river crossing the valley an irresistible challenge for canoeing or Kayaking. In the valley, the climate could range from cold to semi-tropical in the deepest parts. This area has made possible the development of more than 20 species of cacti and 170 species of birds. The most important bird is the Condor, considered the biggest flying creature of the planet. Its flight can be seen in the famous lookout of "La Cruz del Condor" (The Cross of the Condor), a few minutes from Chivay. Here you can also see the tips of the Ampato, Coropuna and the Mismi, whose melted ice gives birth to the Amazonas River. In the towns of the valley, there are churches and traditional parties. The Colca is characterized for its special arts craft: colorful embroideries, pieces made from tin, candle, and carved wood pieces.

Location: 164 km. northeast of Arequipa.

Altitude: 3500 MAMSL.

 

Arequipa Colca Canyon 

The visit to the Colca Canyon, combined with the Colca Valley, is the most popular Arequipa Peru Tours.

It is a destination that combines the wealth of natural settings, towns and people of ancient customs, hot springs sources and excellent scenarios for adventure sports such as rafting and kayaking, paragliding, mountain biking, mountaineering, trekking, horseback riding and for the observation of Andean birds, especially the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus).  

The Colca canyon is one of the deepest in the world with 3,400 meters of depth, in its highest part there are natural viewpoints to appreciate the beauty of the landscape and to see the majestic flight of the condors. 

The recommended minimum is a 2-day trip with overnight in the valley.


Colca Canyon Hike

If you like adventure and you are looking for an outdoor experience, this trek is ideal trekking visiting remote villages, sleeping in shelters in the Oasis of Sangalle, dare to experience the habitat within canon. Walking along the routes of the Colca is an experience, will physically test and visit Andean landscapes. You can consider taking a trek of 2 days or 3 days.

 

Day Trip Colca Canyon 

The Colca tour of 1 day begins at 2:30 a.m., the travel agency takes you to the town of Chivay, where you will stop to have breakfast and be able to buy tourist tickets, then continue the journey to the Cruz del Cóndor with a time of 1 hour and 30 minutes, in the Cruz del Cóndor you can appreciate the formation of the canyon and the flight of the Condor. In the area we will be about an hour, then you will go to visit the natural viewpoints of Wayrapunko, Antahuilque, Choquetico place where you can appreciate the work of our pre-Inca ancestors, hanging tombs and litho-scale models, returning with the respective stops of the villages of Maca and Yanque and finish in Chivay to be able to go to the hot water pools being a time of about 1 hour, then return to the town of Chivay and have lunch and return to the city of Arequipa where you will arrive at approximately 04:30 p.m


Colca Canyon 2 Day Tour 

The first day, departure from Arequipa at 8:30 a.m. to go along the Yura road and later to the Chachani volcano and then go through Pampa Cañahuas and stop for 10 to 15 minutes in which the passengers can appreciate the vicuñas that are in their natural environment. Later we will have a second stop to enjoy coca tea and do not affect the height as we will find at 3800 meters above sea level. Continue climbing up to 4800 m.s.n.m. (viewpoint of the volcanoes). Later, started descent to the town of Chivay after approximately 45 minutes. Then have lunch, in the afternoon go to the Calera (thermal water medicinal pool). Finishing with the program for the day, dinner overnight at the chosen hotel. 

The second day, have breakfast (5:30 am) and then go to the Cruz del Cóndor directly where we can appreciate the Colca Canyon and the flight of the condor waiting for a prudent time and then go to visit the viewpoints of Wayrapunko, Andaguilque, Choquetico and the villages of Pinchollo, Maca, Achoma, Yanque and finish in Chivay. Have lunch and prepare to return to the city of Arequipa arriving at 5 p.m. approximately.

 

FAQ's about Colca Canyon

Where is the Colca Canyon located?

The Colca Canyon is located in the northeastern end of the Arequipa Region, province of Caylloma, 165 kilometers from Arequipa and 40 km from Chivay main town and capital of the province of Caylloma. The highest point of the Valley is the inactive Ampato volcano (6288 masl), and the lowest is the confluence of the Colca and Andamayo rivers (970 masl). 

The Colca Valley has an area of ​​100 km long and occupies only one sector of the Colca river basin.


Why visit Colca Canyon? 

  • The Colca Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon! 
  • The area surrounding the Canyon is famous for its colorful and traditional villages, which you will visit on the way.
  • In the Canyon you can find 100 different types of birds, about 300 types of plants and more than 30 types of cactus. 
  • The highest point of the Canyon is Ampato, with 6388 meters above sea level. These snow-capped peaks form an impressive backdrop for the Canyon. 
  • The Andean condor can weigh up to 12 kg with a size of more than 3 meters! The CRUZ DE CONDOR viewpoint is famous for being the best place in South America to see the Andean Condor in flight.

When to visit Colca Canyon?

First, it is necessary to know that before traveling the Colca you must stay at least one day in Arequipa, resting, to acclimate and get used to the heights. Its climate corresponds to that of a high mountain area and the temperatures oscillate with extremes from day to night.  

Colca can be visited at any time of the year, but it is best to do it between March and June, since it is there when the condors abound and the area is re-greened by the rainy season (which ends in March). That would be the ideal season since the sighting of the condor, the largest bird in the world, is one of the flagship activities of the Colca. 

You should also know that during the day everything is usually sunny, but the weather drops a lot during the night, especially between June and August when temperatures can go down to zero degrees


Is Colca Canyon worth visiting? 

There is a lot of reasons to visit the Colca Canyon. First, the Andean communities of the Colca recognize and value their culture. Every day, women wear their typical costumes with handmade embroidery in bright colors. Each community has a different pattern and style of embroidery that reflects their cultural identity. For the explorers, the colonial churches wait to be discovered. Valued by the inhabitants of the Colca, the churches show colonial style paintings and overwhelming religious images. Take advantage of every stop in the villages of the route, explore the area, converse with the locals, try their food and feel like one more inhabitant of the valley of the volcanoes.  

Walkers from all over the world come to explore the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world. In order to have a safe trip, the guide makes an offering of coca leaves to the volcanoes before starting the trip. This scene, of mysticism, mountains, volcanoes and families of vehicles in the distance, is simply captivating. 

The Altiplano del Colca is the day-to-day setting of a family of vicuñas. The same ones that appear in the Peruvian shield. Beyond, you can see a mixture of auquénidos: llamas, alpacas and guanacos drinking water from the small lagoons. With the binoculars reached to a taruca or Andean deer, climbing a madwoman in search of food. Suddenly you see a small brown spot moving through the dry bushes. It is a vizcacha, which runs fast who knows where. The silence of the puna is cut by the sound of a bird flying in a tailspin. You look up to see the sovereign of the Colca: the condor. 

One of the largest birds in the world, the condors, the owners of the Andean skies. During the tour you can enjoy this spectacle of nature that Arequipa and the Colca Canyon offer you.


How hard is the Colca Canyon trek? 

About the difficulty of trekking through the Colca Canyon, I must inform you that it is a trekking where the difficulty "cheats". You have to walk a great ascent of more than 1000 meters of altitude that awaits you on the last day of the Oasis until you leave the canyon. Three or four hours of demanding ascension that begins at about 4 a.m. Although it is demanding it can be done. If you do not see yourself with strength, there is a mule rental service, although the truth is that they were a bit scary. The trekking groups are usually 10 people or so and a guide. Since it's only two days, just take a small backpack with some clothes to change.


What to do in Colca Canyon?

  • Along the valley formed by the Colca River, there are fourteen colonial towns where it is possible to show extraordinary examples of civil and religious architecture, stone houses roofed with wheat straw and ichu, and temples such as those of Lari, Yanque, Cabanoconde and Sibayo, which are true masterpieces of Baroque mestizo art. In these towns you can find lodging, typical food, and services of tour operators for adventure sports. 
  • For lovers of boating, rafting and kayaking, the waters of the Colca River on the canyon offer one of the best places in the world for the practice of these sports, between the months of December to March, rainy season. It includes rapids of extreme difficulty (grade + V) and great isolation in certain sections. The upper part (Andagua) and the middle of the canyon can only be navigated in kayaks by very experienced athletes, an area of ​​pure adrenaline. This is an area of ​​pure adrenaline for trekking, mountain biking or mountaineering. 
  • It also offers great possibilities for the observation of high Andean birds. Mirador Cruz del Cóndor It is a natural viewpoint in a place of privileged view, in which it is common to see condors in flight. The visits to the viewpoint are made very early in the morning to see the majestic flight of the condors at close range, as they float in the ascending thermal currents in search of carrion far below them. From here it is a good place to start a trekking in stunning landscapes. There is no public transport to this area, it must arrive in tourist transport.

What to bring to Colca Canyon? 

For the full day tour, you should only bring a small backpack. Large luggage can be stored at your accommodation in Arequipa. 

  • Water bottle 
  • Original passport 
  • Local money 
  • Swimwear 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Sun glasses 
  • Hat 
  • Camera 
  • Batteries 
  • Warm jacket

What to wear Colca Canyon? 

  • In addition to the essentials to spend one or two nights in the canyon, we recommend that you wear light clothing, as during the trip you will be very warm, as well as warm clothes for the night

Colca Canyon Trips 

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