The Colca Valley offers dazzling nature, a living culture, and delicious cuisine as well as relaxing hot springs. You can enjoy experiential tourism as well as adventure sports.
The Colca River Basin is located in the northeastern corner of Arequipa. The highest point in the basin is the snowy Ampato at 6,300 meters above sea level. and the lowest where the Colca and Andamayo rivers converge at 970 meters above sea level.
This valley has a great diversity of flora and fauna, highlighting the condor, the kestrel, the peregrine falcon and the mountain partridge; also finding tarucas and deer.
Due to its terraces, the Colca Valley represents one of the most impressive cultural landscapes on the continent.
The place is the repository of an enormous natural and cultural heritage, clearly highlighting the survival of two fundamental ethnic groups: Collaguas and Cabanas.
To get to the valley, you must first go to the bus terminal in Arequipa. From there you take a bus to Chivay, four hours from the White City, for S/20.
The ticket from Lima to Arequia by bus lasts approximately 17 hours and the ticket starts at S/50.
As we already told you, you can stay in the city of Arequipa. Because Arequipa is a very touristy city, accommodations and hotels vary in services and amenities. There are hostels with prices from S/30 in shared rooms.
If you want to be closer to the Colca Valley, you can stay in Chivay, a town located 3700 meters above sea level. This has hostels with affordable prices, and also luxury hotels like the Colca Lodge.
The capital of the Caylloma province, Chivay, is the largest town in the Colca Valley. Located four hours from Arequipa, it is the place with the most hotels and restaurants, and offers numerous cultural attractions for visitors.
Chivay has a simple Plaza de Armas, which has the Chila Mountain Range as a background. In it you can see four columns with protective condors, as well as its old church. Some days you can find witti dancers, the traditional Arequipa dance.
On the other hand, there is also its market, rich in artisanal delicacies, fresh crops, alpaca textiles and souvenirs from the valley. Likewise, Chivay has a planetarium and hot springs, just 5 minutes from town.
Located in the Sol de Sacsayhuaman passage in Chivay, this planetarium is attended by Mr. Dante, a passionate about astronomy. It has various equipment with which you can observe the Andean sky, its stars, planets and nebulae.
Admission costs S/25 and the explanation of what will be seen, available in English and Spanish, lasts approximately 45 minutes.
The planetarium opens Monday to Sunday from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
The La Calera hot springs bath, just 4 kilometers from Chivay, is the ideal place to relax surrounded by the Andean mountains and landscapes. With 5 medicinal water pools, most of them exterior and one of them covered, it offers tranquility and well-being. Its waters are rich in iron and sulfur, which is why they contribute to the treatment of diseases such as arthritis and rheumatism.
The entrance to the complex is only S/15 and the public is served until 7 p.m.
In pool number 5 you can enjoy massages for an additional cost.
It is preferable to attend this complex very early or late in the afternoon, due to the influx of people.
This magnificent viewpoint is located 40 kilometers from Chivay and the ideal is to visit it very early (4:00 a.m.) to choose a good place and photograph the magnificent condor during its flight. This animal is visible between 8:00 a.m. and 10 a.m., when it leaves its nest. The Cruz del Cóndor has a cobbled oval from where you can also observe the Coropuna and Ampato volcanoes.
On the other hand, the Mirador de Los Andes is also nearby, at 4910 meters high. From there you can see the entire Volcanic Mountain Range and purchase various textiles made with alpaca and llama.
This is one of the most complete ways to get to know the beauties of the Colca Valley, since the hikes take place through the hidden towns of the valley. They can last between 3 and 7 hours and involve entering rocky paths to enjoy the biodiversity of this landscape, the snowy mountain range and the Colca River.
Hiking routes can include visits and stays in the towns of Cabanaconde, Sangalle or Yanque. These packages, for the most part, promote experiential tourism, since they allow visitors to share with locals, who offer their homes as lodging and restaurants.
It should be noted that in Chivay, where there are more food establishments, you can get menus from S/9.