Colca Canyon, or Cañón del Colca in Spanish, ranks high among the most stunning natural landscapes in Peru. The terrain and elevations vary dramatically, and chains of mountains guard Andean towns within the valley. Endless rows of hillside terraces and colcas, or storehouses, dot Colca Canyon and add to its picturesque scenery. Colcas gave the canyon its name, and they testify to the rise of highly organized civilizations that predated the Incas. The Colca Canyon is located 4 hours away from Arequipa City, the Colca Canyon – offers travellers the opportunity to get up close and personal to countryside life in Peru, spot soaring Andean condors, bathe in secret thermal baths, uncover jaw-dropping vistas, stay in an oasis, and hike along dusty roads for two or three days into the depths of one of the world’s deepest canyons.
Depending on your sources, Colca is either the deepest or third-deepest canyon on earth and certainly one of the most jaw-dropping. Not only is it twice as deep as the Grand Canyon (this is known with 100% certainty) but, if you ask us, we’d say it’s twice as magnificent, not least because it’s the best destination in all of Peru to spot the majestic Andean Condor, the largest flying bird on the planet.
The trip is doable in one day, however, we advise staying there for at least one night to be able to enjoy and explore better. There are plenty of accommodations in Chivay and Yanque, the popular villages nearby the Canyon. It is better to hire a tour that includes transportation from and to Arequipa instead of reaching the place on your own. It is also advisable to stay one night in Arequipa before going to the Colca Canyon trek in order to acclimatize to the altitude. If you decide to do a one-day tour, you would be leaving Arequipa at 03:30 approx and be back there at 17:30 hrs. This can be a good option for travelers with a tight schedule that does not want to miss this place. If you love to discover new types of animals and birds, this is the place for you! There, you can find over 100 kinds of birds, 300 types of plants, and more than 30 types of cactus. So if you are the type of traveler that enjoys “catching” a new bird or plant, you will enjoy this place. The villages that are located around the Canyon are known for being traditional and colorful. We bet that you will find interesting stories and many authentic souvenirs to buy. You can also take pictures with the llamas, alpacas, and if you are lucky, with a big bird related to the condors. But take into consideration that you will be able to know more in-depth this area if you stay there for at least one night.