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Colca Canyon
Travel Guide


Plan for Colca Canyon with Local Expertise

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Just three hours northwest of Arequipa is one of the most stunning landscapes in Peru: the breathtaking Colca Canyon. The canyon is thought to be almost twice as deep as Arizona’s Grand Canyon, and was carved out of the earth over time by a seemingly innocent waterway, the Colca River. Reaching a jaw-dropping depth of 3,270m, Colca Canyon is one of the deepest in the world, but is not well known on a global scale. Its relative international anonymity, however, means Colca Canyon has retained an air of mystery. Although it is Peru’s third most visited destination, its length and breadth make it far less touristy than other sites such as Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. It is perfect for visitors looking to take the road less traveled, and to have more independent and immersive experiences outside of the tourist track.

Experiences around Colca Canyon

What not to miss

Getting to the Colca Canyon is an adventure in itself. An area renowned for its rugged topography and impossibly picturesque landscapes, visitors to the canyon climb up the narrow trail that winds around the craggy cliff faces to reach the Andean plains from where you can see herds of native animals such as llama and vicuña. Dip down into the lowers parts of the canyon, where you will stumble upon native villages where indigenous communities continue to practice traditional ways of life focused on agriculture and craft. You will see young boys herding cattle, men cultivating the pre-Incan stepped terraces and women in their colorful traditional dress selling produce and handicrafts. Traveling through the Colca Canyon is perhaps less of a commitment than camping along the Inca Trail, because you can stop for the night in these native enclaves, bathing in hot springs along the way to recover from a long day’s hike. The canyon is also a haven for lovers of flora and fauna, and it is home to over 100 kinds of birds, over 300 types of plants and more than 30 types of cactus.

Full Day in Colca Canyon Top

Round trip to/from Arequipa

Our thrilling trip to the Colca Canyon begins bright and early at 3 am as we set off to the Condor Cross, a spectacular viewpoint of the impressive Colca Canyon. The next stop is Pinchollo town, where we will make our way to the Wayrapunko and Antahuilque lookouts that offer splendid views of the area and surrounding lakes. Next is Maca Town, where you can visit a charming whitewashed church made from the volcanic rock sillar. The last town we visit is Chivay, where we stop off at the hot springs of La Calera and the breathtaking Chivay lookout, from which you can see the pre-Incan terraces used by indigenous Peruvians named Collaguas. As you can tell, this tour works to give you many different perspectives of the stunning natural wonder. After a quick visit of another lookout named Patapampa at 4800 meters high, we will drive the the Chuchura crater and arrive at the Pampas de Tocra, where you can enjoy panoramic views of white mountain ranges and also explore the natural reserve of Pampas Cañahuas, filled with vicuñas, llamas and many majestic species of birds, including the famous Condor. We will return to Arequipa at around 17:30.

Overnight in Colca Canyon Top

2 Day & 3 Day Options (End in Arequipa or Lake Titicaca)

A colorful Andean valley with pre-Inca roots, the Colca Canyon has a number of small villages filled with local traditions and culture that are some of the most well-preserved in the country. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States, the landscapes surrounding the Colca Canyon are simply breathtaking! This is one of the best places to spot the Andean Condor as it soars and glides through this vast valley. The 3 day tour allows more time visiting all areas en route, and can carry on through to Lake Titicaca or return to Arequipa, whichever you desire. Options for lodging: Comfort – Casa Andina / Mamayachi; Superior – Colca Lodge; Luxury – Belmond Las Casitas.

Fortress of Chimpa at Madrigal Top

After being picked up at your hotel at 6 am, this magical trek begins with a short visit of the Ichupampa Temple (or Candelaria Temple) and its plaza. Our next stop along the scenic drive is the charming Peruvian village Lari, where we will visit its traditional church that is sometimes referred to as the Colca Cathedral. After a long look at the glimmering white church, we will drive to Madrigal town and admire its splendid pre-Incan terraces. The tour then offers two separate options: either leave the car to start the pleasant 3-hour trek to the Fortress of Chimpa, or continue driving to the end of the road and then walk 2 hours to the fortress. The path is well paved and not too challenging and there will be plenty of opportunities to take a break along the way. During the ascent we will also visit a pre-Incan cemetery, so that you can delve into history while enjoying wonderful landscapes. Upon arrival at the fortress of Chimpa you can enjoy spectacular views of the Colca Canyon and the surrounding valley.

Colca Zipline - Colca as a Condor Top

After enjoying the scenery, the challenge continues with our fastest line. The view from the jump-off point will trigger that adrenaline rush once more and the speed will make you feel what the condors feel! This course consists of a total of 2/4/6 jumps (30/60/90 minutes) combining for over 4000 feet/1200m of length. The maximum speed you will reach during the adventure is 55Mph same that is managed by the experts by dragging chutes, glove friction and mechanical brakes at the end. As you can see speed safety is guaranteed by three different systems. You just have to sit back and enjoy the journey that lasts approximately 60 minutes.

Colca & Coporaque Like a Local Top

A Coporaque villager will take you to his home and together the day-work will be planned. We cannot exactly define what this day will look like as it depends on the season and weekday. However, the normal activities run among others from support in the fields, herding animals, the preparation of land for sowing, or harvesting. This experience includes lunch with your host family, whose main dishes are prepared with the local products such as Qunioa (Inca rice), potato, Oca or rice. After lunch you and your hosts will visit the natural hot springs of Coporaque, which are regularly used by the people of the village. On the afternoon your host will accompany you on your way back to your hotel in Coporaque or Chivay.

Fast Facts on Colca Canyon

USEFUL TRAVELER INFORMATION

This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Colca Canyon.

When to go

It is best to visit the Colca Canyon in the dry season, which runs from May to November. The region benefits from a dry and sunny climate during these months, which makes for smooth travel from Arequipa to the canyon. The greatest numbers of condors seen between June and September, and the birds are typically seen soaring through the canyon in the morning from around 8am to 10am and in the late afternoon from 3:30pm to 4:30pm.

How to get there

If you are planning on visiting the Colca Canyon, you will fly into Arequipa. Daily flights to Arequipa are scheduled from Lima, Juliaca and Cusco. A number of different airlines including LATAM, Aero Condor and Star Peru offer daily flights between these cities, and we will arrange the internal flights and transfer for you as part of your itinerary. The Plaza de Armas, Arequipa’s main square, is located 8 kilometers (5.5 miles) from the airport. To get to the canyon itself, the most common way is via an organised group or private tour. It takes about three hours to get from Arequipa to the Colca Canyon, and you will stop along the way at lookout points where you can take photos of the amazing landscape. Consult one of our travel experts and they will arrange transport to and around the canyon for you.

Infrastructure

Depending on whether you want to do day trips to the canyon or spend a few nights staying in some of the tiny settlements dotted throughout it, you may choose to base yourself in Arequipa or plan your stays in the canyon, which we can assist you with. There is a wide range of hotels to choose from in Arequipa, from budget accommodation to luxury lodgings, and many high-end restaurants can be found in and around the hotels. We can arrange transport for you to and from Arequipa, so just let us know what your travel goals are and we can include the transfers in your itinerary.

Tour Package Connections to Colca Canyon

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