Colca Canyon landscapes
5-day adventure

Colca Canyon Extension

Peru
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Code: PRCO5EXT

5 days
3/5

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Our office in Cuzco was first established in 2012 and now offers a wide range of trekking options in the area including the Inca Trail, Lares Trail, Salkantay Trek and Choquequirao Trek to name just a few. Our team in Peru also provides trips to Lake Titicaca, Rainbow Mountain and the Amazon for those wanting to experience more of the country before travelling home. With quality equipment and highly experienced guides, you are in safe hands from...
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Kandoo's view

Colca Canyon is truly immense: twice as deep as the USA's Grand Canyon and the river at its bottom is a staggering 4160 metres beneath the rim. Unlike the Grand Canyon though the area is remarkably fertile and you can see the local people farming here on the pre-Inca stepped terraces.

And of course Colca is really famous for the rare Andean Condors which can be seen at close range as they fly past the canyon walls at 'Cruz del Condor'. Condors have been known to live to 50 years old and can weigh up to 12kg with a wingspan often in excess of 3 metres. Soaring above and below you in the canyon they really are stunning.

All trips to Colca Canyon start from the beautiful colonial city of Arequipa located at an elevation of 2380m at the foot of the now dormant Misti Volcano. While it is possible to drive to Arequipa the journey from Lima is over 17 hours so we would recommend that you fly in from Lima and then after visiting the Canyon catch a second flight to Cuzco.

Arequipa town is largely built of white volcanic stone, so it is nicknamed the White City. Adding in a walking tour of Arequipa, a visit to Colca Canyon or a trek into the canyon is a great way to acclimatise before you begin your trek to Machu Picchu.

Trip highlights

  • Visit Colca Canyon and see its condors at close range
  • Enjoy a trek into the immense canyon
  • See the local farmers on pre-Inca stepped terraces

Experiences

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    Hikers in Thorong, during the Annapurnas Tour
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Itinerary

  • Day 1

    ARRIVE IN AREQUIPA

    Our representative will meet you at the airport for the transfer to your hotel. A free day to spend in Arequipa and to rest following your journey. Guided tours can be arranged if required.

    • Transport: Private transfer
    • Accomodation: Hotel
  • Day 2

    AREQUIPA TO CABANACONDE TO LLAHUAR

    We will collect you from your hotel around 3am to begin the drive to Chivay, the main town of the Colca valley, which takes approximately 4 hours. As we drive we will reach 4900m, from where there are great views of all the volcanoes in the area – Misti, Chachani and Ampato – as well as the mountains of Sabancaya, Halka Halka and Chucura. We will stop in Chivay for breakfast before continuing to Cruz del Condor, which will take a further 2 hours driving. There will be opportunities to stop and take photographs of the villages across the canyon before we finally arrive at the Cruz del Condor viewpoint. From here you can truly appreciate the Colca Canyon and the condors circling above. A final short drive from here will take us to the village of Cabanaconde where we will have lunch before beginning our trek.

    The descent into the canyon takes around 4 hours, visiting the Achachiwa lookout point. The trek down to the Colca River has magnificent views of the villages and traditional farming terraces. We will take a break at the bottom of the canyon, where we can watch the small geyser that is located opposite the river. We cross the river on a suspension bridge before trekking for a further hour to our lodge at Llahuar. Here we can enjoy the hot springs, or explore the surrounding area. There is an opportunity to try fishing for trout in the Colca River.

    • Transport: Private transfer
    • Hiking time: 4 hours
    • Accomodation: Hotel
    • Meals included: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
  • Day 3

    LLAHUAR TO SANGALLE

    After breakfast we trek for around 4 hours along the right bank of the Colca River. We trek up through the little village of Paclla which is thought to have a mysterious character because of its abandoned witches’ houses. We will also see the most impressive view of the canyon from the Apacheta lookout point. From the viewpoint we descend once again to the Colca River to reach Sangalle (the Oasis). The afternoon is free to relax in the volcanic water swimming pool, or to explore the abandoned mines and waterfalls of the surrounding area.

    • Hiking time: 4 - 5 hours
    • Accomodation: Hotel
    • Meals included: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
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Trip information

Difficulty

Although not considered to be very strenuous, the Colca Canyon trek can be demanding at times. You will be required to trek down into the canyon which is a gruelling 4 hour, 1000m descent that can be very tough on the knees! Climbing back out of the canyon in the early hours of the morning, you can watch the sunrise over the mountains as you slowly plod your way up the zig zag path to complete the 1000m ascent. As this trek is unsupported, you will need to carry all of your own equipment and belongings so packing light is essential.  You should have a good level of fitness and determination to complete the trek. 

Food & drink

The lodges on the trek are booked on a full board basis. On the first day you will stop for a packed breakfast on your way to the trek start point. On the last day, you will have a very early start and will have breakfast once you reach the canyon rim at Cabanaconde. You will then have lunch at a restaurant in Chivay as you drive back to Arequipa.

Each day starts with a breakfast of fruit juice, cereal, pancakes and tea or coffee and a picnic lunch will be provided. The lodges may not be able to provide a choice of evening meal and you should expect fairly basic food. Soup starters, pasta dishes and milk based deserts are commonly prepared.  

Drinking water is not included on this trek. You should bring 2 litres of water with you from Arequipa for the first day. Additional water can be purchased at the lodges.

 

Your hotel in Arequipa before and after the trek is booked on a B&B basis.

Accommodation

The lodge accommodation in Llahuar is very basic. Simple, unadorned rooms with single beds and shared bathroom facilities. Cold showers are available or you may like to take a short walk to the nearby hot springs. The lodge in Sangalle, although still basic, offers en-suit rooms set around a central garden area and also has a swimming pool.

 

Your hotel in Arequipa is booked on a B&B basis. You can purchase snacks or meals at the hotel, which can be paid in Peruvian Sols, or often in US Dollars. Alternatively, there are plenty of restaurants in Arequipa within walking distance of your hotel.

Transport

We insist on using a high standard of vehicle and driver for all of our transfers. In Peru it is not a legal requirement to have seatbelts fitted in the back of vehicles, and while we try to use vehicles that do have rear seatbelts fitted, this cannot always be guaranteed. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the vehicle or the standard of driving, please speak to the driver or our local office immediately.

Luggage

This trek is unsupported so you will need to carry all your own gear each day. It is important that you pack light and carry only what you need in a 40-60 litre day pack.  Your main bag can be left securely at the hotel in Arequipa and collected when you return.

How do I get there?

Our trek through the Colca Canyon starts from the city of Arequipa. You can book a flight to Arequipa from Lima or Cuzco. For those on a budget you can also travel by bus, from Lima this will take around 15 hours or 10 hours from Cuzco. Please inform us when you have made your travel arrangements and a member of our team will be ready to meet you when you arrive.

Budget & change

The Peruvian Sol can be purchased in advance, although US Dollars are also widely accepted in larger establishments. If you want to change money when you arrive we can take you to an ATM or foreign exchange bureau. When changing money, request small denominations (10’s, 20’s and 50’s) as the larger notes can be hard to spend. If you withdraw money from an ATM, you are likely to receive 100 sol notes.


If you are relying on a credit or debit card for emergency funds, make sure you tell your card issuer that you will be using it abroad, or you may find that it won't work when you really need it.

Tips

We realize that tipping may not be a common practice in all countries but for Peru it is a standard practise that all operators support. The decision on how much to tip should be determined by how well the guide served you while you were on the trek. Tips are always discretionary and if you are not happy with the service you have received, you do not have to pay tips. Tips can be made in US dollars or Peruvian Sols. It is very important that US bills be new (post 2006), crisp and untorn. For the guide in Colca Canyon we recommend $15-20 per day.

Formalities & health

Passport

Unlike many other countries where Kandoo operates, there is no requirement that your passport be valid for 6 months longer than your expected stay. As long as it is valid through your departure date, you are fine.

If you are coming into Peru from Ecuador, get your passport stamped for entry at the local immigration office nearest your border crossing. Most enter this way through Aguas Verdes in the Tumbes region. Make sure you find your way to the immigration office there, as if your passport is not stamped you will have to go back to the Ecuador border if your papers are inspected. You may also have trouble if you do not have a valid exit stamp from the country you left before coming to Peru.

Those entering overland from Columbia generally enter through Leticia. You will need to get your passport stamped in Santa Rosa, on the Columbia/Brazil/Peru border. Please keep in mind that Santa Rosa is rather under-policed, and tourists should avoid isolated places, and travel only in groups.

Lastly, if you are crossing into Peru from Bolivia by road, you will need to visit the immigration office for the Puno region, in Desaguadero.

Visa

British and EU nationals do not need a visa to come to Peru as a tourist. You can get permission to visit upon arrival at the airport, and the duration is usually up to six months. American citizens and nationals do not need a visa either so long as they have a valid US passport, but will generally only get permission to stay as a tourist for 90 days. Still, this is usually plenty of time.

Vaccinations

You must though consult your own GP or medical adviser. Your GP will understand your overall fitness levels and any health issues you may have, and will be able to give you much more specific advice about what vaccinations or other medications you need, and which you should not have. When in doubt, ask your doctor!

That having been said, the following is a list of common vaccinations that are useful to many travellers in Peru and surrounding countries, and some specifics about each.

Hepatitis A and B
Kandoo recommends all travellers to the Andes region are vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B.

Typhoid
Typhoid is also present in the region, and it is a good idea for all travellers to be immunised against it.

Yellow Fever
Yellow fever is a problem in the area, especially in regions like the Amazon, the areas around Cuzco (but not the city itself), Loreto, Madre de Dios, north-eastern Ancash, northern Apurimac, northern and north-eastern Ayacucho, northern and eastern Cajamarca, the far north of Huancavelica, most of Huanuco, the north and east of Junin, the east of La Libertad, most of Pasco eastern Piura and northern Puno, as well as San Martin and Ucayali. Anyone travelling to these areas should be vaccinated against yellow fever, unless given specific medical advice otherwise.

Lambayeque, Tumbes, and certain parts of Cajamarca and Piura are less at risk, and only those who can expect to be bitten by large numbers of mosquitoes specifically need to be vaccinated.

Lastly, you will not need yellow fever vaccination if you will be above 2300 metres of elevation for your whole stay, or if you will only be visiting Cuzco, Lima, Machu Picchu and/or the Inca Trail.

Rabies
Trekkers who will be spending a great deal of time out of doors, who will for some reason be dealing with bats, or who are otherwise at risk of being bitten by animals, should be vaccinated against rabies.

MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
If you have not already had the MMR vaccine and were born after 1956, you should have two doses.

Tetanus-diphtheria
This vaccine should be taken if you have not had the tetanus-diphtheria jab in the last ten years.

Insurance

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are fully and adequately insured for the duration of your trip. Please ensure that all activities, excursions and destinations in your itinerary are included in your travel insurance policy, in addition to your regular cover for cancellation and medical expenses. Most of our treks in Peru do not exceed 4700m with the exception of the Ausangate Trek which will reach 5200m. Please ensure that your insurance policy covers you for trekking at these altitudes.

We ask that you keep a copy of your policy summary (containing policy number and the emergency contact number for your insurer) in your day sack at all times, so that we can access this information should we need to contact the insurer on your behalf.

Health

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness, called soroche in Peru and also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or hypobaropathy, is an illness caused by exposure to low air pressure, especially low partial pressure of oxygen, which many climbers experience at high altitudes. AMS is caused by exerting yourself at high altitudes, especially if you have not been properly acclimatised. It is most common at altitudes above 2400 metres. Our routes have been designed to aid your acclimatisation wherever possible, but the following will also help your body adjust:

Slow and steady. You need to keep your respiration rate low enough to maintain a normal conversation. If you are panting or breathing hard, you must slow down. There is no pressure on you to keep up with other members of your group.

Drink much more water than you think you need. Proper hydration helps acclimatisation dramatically. You need to drink at least three litres each day.

Diamox

There has been a lot of research on Diamox that shows is that it has been reasonably well proven to be helpful in avoiding AMS by speeding up the acclimatisation process. In the UK it is a prescription drug which must be prescribed by a doctor, but some doctors are reluctant to prescribe it. The concern is that by taking Diamox, people believe that they are immune from AMS and can ignore the symptoms. In reality, although Diamox can help prevent the symptoms, should symptoms still develop it means that you are not acclimatising and you have to take notice. Diamox is taken before you start the trek to prevent altitude sickness, not once symptoms have developed.

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in Cuzco or on our treks due to the altitude. However, there is a risk of malaria in rural areas of Peru below 2,000m. This would include Tambopata National Park, so if you are planning an extension to the Amazon Rainforest, you need to plan anti-malarial medication for this part of your trip. In addition to taking medication, we would recommend you take every precaution to prevent mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved trousers and shirts at dusk and dawn when the mosquitos are active, and by using a DEET based mosquito repellent.

Dehydration

You can easily become dehydrated at high altitudes. The lower air pressure forces you to breathe more quickly and deeply, and you lose a lot of water through your lungs. You will also be exerting yourself, and sweating, and may even suffer from diarrhoea. As a result, you will have to drink much more water than you normally would and you should drink at least 3 litres of fluids every day while climbing. Even when you do not feel thirsty you have to drink this amount as a minimum – preferably more. Stay on the look-out for signs of dehydration in yourself and your fellow climbers. The most common symptoms include thirst, dry lips, nose or mouth, headache and feeling fatigued or lethargic.

Medication

It is always a good idea to carry a small first aid kit with elasticated bandages, plasters, pain killers, antiseptic cream and any personal medication. 

Equipment & clothing

Clothing to bring

  • Sun Hat
  • Warm hat (beenie)
  • Sun glasses
  • Sturdy walking boots
  • Comfortable trainers for the evenings
  • Socks and underwear
  • T-shirts and Long sleeved shirt for sun protection
  • A warm fleece / soft shell
  • Thermal layers
  • Waterproof jacket / trousers
  • Trekking trousers / shorts

Equipment to bring

  • Sunscreen and lip balm - high SPF
  • Toiletries, wet wipes and hand sanitiser
  • Insect repellant
  • Camera and spare batteries
  • Plug adapter
  • Personal medication and first aid kit
  • Day pack (40-60 litre)
  • Water bottles or hydration system
  • Head torch
  • Microfibre towel

Price

Ideal travel time:
Prices stat from £455 / $595 per person

Want to add flights or create a private trip? Don't hesitate to contact us!

Contact us

Price includes

  • Return airport transfers in Arequipa
  • Hotel accommodation in Arequipa before and after your trek (B&B)
  • Private guided Colca Canyon trek
  • Lodge accommodation in Llahuar and Sangalle
  • All meals while on the trek (boxed breakfast on first day due to early start)
  • 1 bottle of water each day of the trek
  • Entrance ticket to Colca Canyon
  • Entrance to thermal baths in Calera
  • Buffet lunch in Chivay on the return drive

Price does not include

  • Airfares and departure taxes
  • Tips and gratuities to local guides and hotel staff
  • Meals & drinks not specified 
  • Items of a personal nature such as WiFi, laundry and snacks