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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. 

Our suggested itinerary for trekking in the Colca Canyon is below.

Day 1: Arequipa – Cabanaconde – Llahuar

Distance: 6-8km, Trek time: 4 hrs

 You will be collected from your hotel around 3am to begin the drive to Chivay, the main town of the Colca valley, which takes approximately 4 hours. We stop here 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 you finally arrive at the Cruz del Condor view point. 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 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 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 the opportunity to try fishing for trout in the Colca River.

Day 2: Llahuar – Sangalle

Distance: 7-9km, Trek time 4-5 hrs

 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 also see the most impressive view of the Canyon from the Apacheta lookout. 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.

 Day 3: Sangalle – Cabanaconde – Chivay – Arequipa

Distance: 6-8km, Trek time: 3-4 hrs

 Another early start, as we set off around 5am to begin the ascent of the canyon, back to Cabanaconde. From here we transfer back to Chivay for lunch, visiting villages such as Pinchollo and Maca along the way. In Chivay we will visit Calera hot springs, thermal baths of medicinal waters with a constant temperature of 35-40°C. We have lunch in Chivay before heading back to Arequipa, with stops on the way in the National Reservation of Salinas and Aguada Blanca. We arrive back in Arequipa around 6pm.

Contact us for more information quoting Colca Canyon.

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