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.
Our exciting 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. 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. As you can see, this tour will give you many different perspectives of this stunning natural wonder.
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, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the journey that lasts approximately 60 minutes.
A Coporaque villager will take you to his home, and together the day-work will be planned. We cannot precisely define what this day will look like as it depends on the season and weekday. However, the usual 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 local products such as Quinoa (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. In the afternoon your host will accompany you on your way back to your hotel in Coporaque or Chivay.
A colorful Andean valley with pre-Inca roots, the Colca Canyon has many 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 just 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.
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 most significant 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.
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. Some 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 organized 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 fantastic landscape. Consult one of our travel experts, and they will arrange transport to and around the canyon for you.
Depending on whether you want to make 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.